What is a Green Port?

High angle view of the entrance to the Rotterdam harbour, the Netherlands at dusk

A green port is a port that invests and encourages in environmentally friendly and sustainable operations in all formats of the ports and maritime industry.

Whilst ports will have different perspectives as to what ‘sustainable’ operations truly are, broadly there are new green technologies and low and zero-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels and power-intensive terminal equipment.

Globally, international maritime and shipping consortia is bringing together supply chain stakeholders to collectively reduce power consumption and carbon emissions:

CATEGORY: Environment and Sustainability News

In PTI Journal Edition 105, we analysed some of the key sustainable initiatives ongoing in ports and maritime currently.


The growth of electricity-powered operations in ports can be a key driver in bringing down emissions.

Many ports are considering investment in shore power, which allows docking vessels to ‘plug-in’ to power units berthed within the port complex – reducing the need to draw power from generators, reducing fuel consumption.

Port of Long Beach electric RTG
Port of Long Beach using electric RTG cranes

Electrified zero-emission yard equipment (such as electric rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) cranes launched at the Port of Long Beachwill become more common in the future as ports seek to reduce carbon consumption.

Stakeholders in the port community are increasingly investing in electrification also: trucking provider Effenco has announced the launch of the first 100% electric solution offered at the same purchase price as diesel alternatives.

Low and zero-emission fuels

Renewable fuels for vessels; cargo-handling equipment; or the storage, generation, and transportation as a business model are all areas where low and zero-emission fuels can make an impact in ports.

Green hydrogen is zero-emission, generated through renewable electrolysis. Blue hydrogen is generated through fossil fuels, however carbon emissions are captured and stored safely. Hydrogen is in development in ports in cargo-handling equipment and, in the future, potentially hydrogen-powered vessels.

Hydrogen plant

Wider supply chain stakeholders are also investing in hydrogen to drive down emissions: AIDrivers and Hyzon Motors have announced an agreement to jointly develop autonomous hydrogen powered trucks with fleet deployment in 2022.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) fuel for use in vessels is experiencing an increase in demand globally. LNG reduces 85% less nitrogen oxides and considerably less greenhouse gases (GHG) into the air.

LNG bunkering at the port can in the near future be used for fully carbon-neutral variants of LNG, including liquid biogas from organic waste or liquid synthetic methane from green hydrogen and captured CO2.

Other renewable fuel sources include methanol production, ammonia bunkering, and biofuels for vessels.


Transporting goods by rail freight is a low-carbon alternative for the supply chain compared to fossil fuel-powered trucks in terminal yards.

The Port of Valencia is investing heavily in intermodal transport and cut its carbon emissions by 30% between 2008 and 2019 despite continuing to grow cargo throughput.

Maersk launches new India rail service
Maersk launches new India rail service

Stakeholders are increasingly turning to inland rail freight to move goods: in early September 2021 shipping line MSC launched a new direct rail service connecting Trieste, Italy and Ludwigshafen, Germany. The same week, the Port of Kiel introduced additional intermodal cargo services between Lehrte MegaHub from Kiel to Verona in northern Italy.

Many in industry have highlighted investment in intermodal freight solutions as opposed to trucking to reduce port carbon consumption.

Intermodal trade will become more important for US container ports as e-commerce forces importers and exporters to bring their supply chains closer to destination markets, according to the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA).


Digital investments can make transformational differences for ports understanding its carbon footprint and how to reduce power consumption of all port stakeholders.

The Port of Esbjerg installed Honeywell’s data visualised Enacto Carbon and Energy Management system into its facility, monitoring and pinpoints resource consumption of every user and the variety of sensors and energy gauges at the port.

Environmental Control Booths at the Port of Valencia
Environmental Control Booths at the Port of Valencia

Similarly, the Port Authority of Valencia (PAV) has installed two environmental control booths that analyse air and noise quality in real-time and provide port actors of where hotspots of emissions can occur.

The Port of Piraeus uses data to better manage incoming vessels through the PIXEL Ports project

Broadly, ports can make investments in Just In Time (JIT) arrival by communicating relevant information – such as the requested time of arrival – to the vessel in advance, allowing the captain to adjust to optimum speed and cut harmful emissions.

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