First shore-side power station for container ships in Hamburg

First for cruise ships, now also for container ships: the first shore-side power stations for box carriers are being built at HHLA Container Terminals Burchardkai and Tollerort in the Port of Hamburg. From 2023 on, they will deliver green electricity from the public grid to ships in an initial test phase.

The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), as proprietor of the quaysides at the Port of Hamburg, commissioned Siemens AG to construct the corresponding systems. The use of shore-side electricity substantially reduces the emissions of a docked ship. As soon as the electricity is connected, the diesel generators usually used for power on board can be switched off. This reduces not only air pollution and greenhouse gases but also local noise emissions to a minimum.

The project is one of many measures implemented in line with the city of Hamburg’s air purification plan starting in 2025.

Shore-side power stations are an effective and sensible solution for emissions-free layovers. They eliminate the emission of nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, soot particles and greenhouse gases while ships are docked. – Their workings are technically complex. It’s not enough to use a long, thick cable and two plugs; large container ships require about as much power as a small city.

Background: In international seaborne transport, approximately 75 percent of all ships are equipped with 60 hertz on-board power systems. Yet only a quarter of all countries’ electrical grids operate on this frequency: for example, Germany uses 50 hertz. This means the land frequency and on-board frequency must be adapted – a complex undertaking that must also be safe.

The first shore-side power station for cruise ships in Europe already began operations at the Cruise Center Altona in 2016. It serves as a model for the new systems at HHLA Container Terminals Burchardkai and Tollerort.

The construction of shore-side power stations by the HPA is another important step in the decarbonisation of the port and of logistics chains. It will also help improve the city’s air quality in the long term.