Hamburg First in Europe to Supply Shore Power for Containerships

Hamburg container terminal
Container Terminal Hamburg is the first to be fully able to offer shore power for containerships (HPA)

Published May 19, 2024 6:47 PM by The Maritime Executive


The drive to eliminate shipping emissions at berths is now extending to containerships with the port of Hamburg becoming the first port in Europe to provide shoreside power. Initiated last week the development that comes after two years of planning and €13 million ($14 million) of investments in the necessary infrastructures.

Hamburg, which is among Europe’s top container ports, said that after years of supplying cruise ships with shoreside power, the technology is now also being used for cargo ships. It is in line with the port’s net zero ambitions and European regulations which will in the future require the use of shore power to reduce in port emissions.

The 18,000 TEU box ship CMA CGM Vasco de Gama became the first vessel to plug in to shore power at the Container Terminal Hamburg. The 2015 built containership was able to be supplied with shore power following numerous tests with different systems and ships.

This comes as the number of vessels calling at the port maintained a steady increase in recent years. In 2023, a total of 6,901 vessels representing 256 million gross tons at the port, nearly half of which were containerships. The port’s container throughput amounted to 7.7 million TEU in 2023.

To facilitate shore power connections to box ships, Hamburg began investments two years ago in the necessary infrastructure culminating in a plant that will operate at the container terminal providing connections for three mega-ship berths. Each has a connection capacity of 7.5 MVA. The plant will supply the ships with renewable energy from the public grid. Half of the funding for the shore power installation at Container Terminal Hamburg came from the German government through the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection.

Hamburg expects to extend the offering to other parts of the port so that all its container terminals and cruise ship berths will have shore power available by 2025. CMA CGM is the first to use the capability, but the port said it is currently in the process of concluding contractual agreements with other shipping companies to guarantee that more vessels plug in instead of running on their engines while at berth.


Three containership berths now have shore power with the plan to continue the ramp up into 2025 (HPA)


“This project was launched when there were still many uncertainties regarding the use of shore-side power. The proportion of containerships in Europe capable of using shore power was almost zero. Despite these uncertainties, we decided to go ahead and pave the way for a more sustainable future. In doing so, Hamburg has raised its global profile as an innovative pioneer and doer,” said Jens Meier, Hamburg Port Authority CEO.

Having deployed shore power at CTH, Hamburg intends to extend the service at the Burchardkai and Altenwerder container terminals before gradually expanding the range of services offered. The port also intends to carry out regular ship integration tests and technical inspections in order to check the connection of additional ships and to adapt the technical conditions to the requirements. Hamburg has been offering shore power for cruise ships following its first pilot project in 2016.

Ports across Europe are also working to meet the EU mandate which requires shore power by 2030. The Port of Rotterdam began a trial project for shore power at its Rotterdam Shortsea Terminals in July 2023. That project is exploring the potential of a lower voltage installation for short sea shipping which would also create a cost saving for the port.