Adoption of joint position paper “Zero Emission at Berth”

The German seaports endorse the introduction of a European limit for carbon emissions for all seagoing and inland waterway vessels at berth.

At the same time, however, the responsible parties at the port management companies are sceptical as to whether the EU’s proposal to expand shore power is the right strategy to obtain a sustainable reduction in emissions by shipping (cf. attached statement by the nine seaports). The position paper ‘ZeroEmission@Berth’, which was signed by all port management companies, states, “Grid-connected shore power systems operated entirely with renewable energy offer a useful option to reduce emissions by seagoing and inland vessels while at berth, but not for every port, not for every berth and not for every vessel.”

The proposal of the EU Commission would require investments running into billions of euros to provide shore power connections for the approx. 550 berths for seagoing vessels alone at the German ports. These investments would have to be borne by the taxpayer and by the ports which are organised as private-economy companies without any significant support from the ship operators who are responsible for causing the emissions. Moreover, only certain ships would be obliged to use the provided power plant. This would lead to a situation where one vessel would be obliged to use shore power when moored at a berth with a shore power connection, whereas another unregulated vessel at the same berth would still be permitted to burn fossil fuels.

In July 2021, the EU Commission published the “Fit for 55” package which is aimed at reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The package stipulates specific requirements for ships at berth. Zero emissions at berth will be compulsory for certain types of vessel as from 2030, and shore power, batteries and fuel cells are listed as potential solutions. While the German seaports endorse this fundamental target, they believe that it has to be open to all technologies and thus permit, for instance, the use of fuels from renewable energy sources. Such fuels are capable of reducing carbon emissions and air pollutants not only at the berth, but also while the vessel is in operation, and would thus achieve reductions on a far more significant scale. Approx. 95 per cent of the emissions caused by shipping are generated during the voyage, whereas the time spent in port accounts for only five per cent.  

In the position paper, the German seaports invite shipping to seek joint solutions for emission-free vessels at berth apart from grid-connected shore power systems. 

Innovation competition will begin in February

The German seaports have announced their intention of running an innovation competition to identify and learn more about suitable approaches. In doing so, they will jointly look for innovative ideas, concepts and potential solutions that use any technology which is capable of supplying ships in port with energy as an alternative to stationary shore power systems and which could also potentially help to reduce emissions while the vessels are in operation.

The innovation competition will begin in February 2022 and will be judged by a jury of seven representatives from shipping companies, maritime associations and science. The innovation competition will be monitored by the Maritime Cluster Northern Germany. For further information visit  

Robert Howe, Managing Director of bremenports, states, “The German seaports all share the same intention of making a key contribution to tackling climate change. It is therefore important to address the reduction of ship emissions as an overall problem rather than concentrating primarily on the time spent in port.”