Sustainability in the maritime industry

The life cycle assessment of logistics is significantly influenced by the maritime industry. Dr Nils Kemme, Managing Director of HPC Hamburg Port Consulting, knows how it can contribute to the climate change.

  • Interview
  • Ship & Port
  • Climate protection
  • People

There are many levers to improve the climate footprint of maritime logistics. For example, resource-saving technologies in the ports or environmentally friendly energy sources in shipping. The current trend is the electrification of vehicles and equipment or the use of LNG and fuel cells. In this interview, Dr Nils Kemme gives an overview of promising approaches.


HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder is the world's lighthouse terminal.

Dr Nils Kemme, Managing Director of HPC Hamburg Port Consulting

New challenges due to climate change

Climate change has a significant impact on the entire maritime industry. Rising sea levels threaten not only ports but all coastal infrastructure. More frequent and intense storms affect shipping and increase insurance costs. Changing weather conditions can make navigation more difficult and jeopardise safety at sea. Port operators must adapt to rising water levels and prepare for extreme weather. They also need to reduce their emissions to mitigate climate change. Climate-friendly business models are being sought everywhere and innovative solutions are being tried out.


Disrupted supply chains, blocked trade routes

The blockade of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given accident in 2021 had disrupted supply chains for the first time. This was followed by the very severe restrictions caused by the Corona pandemic. But climate change is also changing transport routes, as the limited capacity of the Panama Canal due to prolonged drought shows. Port operators must react, and even new trade routes for shipping are conceivable.

Digital supply chains

Reduction of emissions

Ships currently still rely predominantly on fossil fuels, some of which are harmful to the environment, such as heavy fuel oil. Replacing such energy sources as quickly as possible would have a significant impact on emissions in the transport chain. Currently, a lot of electrification is taking place in the maritime industry, especially in port facilities. For container ships, however, battery operation is not yet a solution. What alternatives are there?

Shore power systems in Hamburg

Why electrify?

Everything that can be electrified in a port terminal is currently being converted to electric power. In battery mode, many devices can be supplied with green energy and operate emission-free. Where does this technology reach its limits? Would hydrogen, for example, be a sensible propulsion energy? And where could hybrid ships be used? 

Hydrogen at HHLA

Climate success stories

Everyone wants to see results, and HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) delivers. It was the first of its kind to receive a certificate (TÜV NORD) for climate neutrality. Other operators also see the lighthouse project as a role model. Dr Nils Kemme mentions it in the same breath as the Port of Los Angeles. Other ports reward environmentally friendly ships with incentives.

Climate neutrality in the Port of Hamburg

Published 7.8.2023