Sustainable Environmental Management in the Seaports of Niedersachsen

Protection of the environment and resources has become an important part of the company philosophy of the seaports of Niedersachsen. Therefore companies in the port locations implement a great variety of measures on their own initiative to improve sustainability and environmental compatibility. One of the major issues is the reduction of emissions and energy consumption during the entire value chain. 

For the implementation of these aims within the framework of a lasting and responsible sustainability management, the following gives you an exemplary overview of the various concepts and activities within the business processes.


Over the past years the companies in the Seaports of Lower Saxony have already significantly reduced their CO2 emissions through targeted investments in new transshipment technology and equipment.  Furthermore, there are many examples of other measures which help render port operations more environment friendly and sustainable every single day. For example, by means of an intelligent car park and space management in the ports, exhaust and noise emission can be significantly reduced. For environment friendly stationary operations of refrigerated vehicles it is possible to switch from diesel to electrical power, e.g. with so-called retractable supply posts. The importance of the notion of sustainability in the Seaports of Lower Saxony is reflected both in the use of electric vehicles within the terminals and the provision of charging stations for e-vehicles, and in regular training for drivers (eco-training) where employees learn to drive their vehicles on a consumption-oriented basis; it is also reflected in the approaches to introduce climate-friendly energy production and innovative heating, refrigerating and ventilation technology in the buildings and refrigerated warehouses.

Decreasing Noise and Dust Emissions

Dust emissions can occur naturally during transshipment and storage in particular of bulk cargo. These are prevented or effectively minimised in the Seaports of Niedersachsen by means of targeted measures such as special covering of the goods and the use of modern absorption technology. To restrain noise emissions, present concepts are being continuously refined and investments are being made selectively in technical optimisation.

Environment Managers in Port Operations

The importance of environmental awareness is demonstrated by the increased employment of environmental and energy managers as well as various environmental certifications in the Seaports of Niedersachsen. With targeted data analyses environment managers can detect potential for optimisation with regard to environmental aspects and, therefore, possible cost reductions and, above all, for reducing environmental risks.

Connection to the Mains Power Grid

Electrical power for operation on board vessels in ports and shipyards is usually produced by on-board generators. In order to reduce the exhaust, noise and waste heat pollution from the diesel engines running for this purpose, vessels must be supplied in future by the mains power grid. These preconditions have been fulfilled in individual Seaports of Niedersachsen and efforts will be accelerated and further expanded in the future.

Incentives for Environment Friendly Vessels

Particularly low-emission vessels will be granted discounts on the port tariffs in the Seaports of Niedersachsen by the state’s own port infrastructure corporations. The aim is to remunerate the efforts of the shipping companies regarding particularly environmental-friendly technology and the use of clean fuels.

Concepts for the Supply of LNG

In order to do justice to the growing importance of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a future environment friendly fuel for vessels, the state’s own port infrastructure corporations, in cooperation with associations and initiatives, have begun intensive examination of the feasibility of providing LNG bunker facilities in the Seaports of Niedersachsen. One of the reasons for our commitment is the potential importance of LNG regarding competition between the ports of the North Range. Vessels which will be powered in future by LNG are reliant on cost-efficient bunker facilities in most of their ports of call as the bunker capacities on board are very limited. For the sensitive markets of short sea transportation this means that they must relocate to where security of supply and stable prices can be guaranteed. It is therefore necessary to strengthen the activities in this area and to compile a national concept for the supply of LNG in cooperation with the other German locations.

Individual ferry ship owners who are based in the Seaports of Niedersachsen locations have already had some of their vessels converted for LNG fuel. This has led to a significant reduction in CO2, nitrogen and sulphur oxides as well as fine dust. This improvement in the environmental balance must be pointed out, particularly considering the operational area of the ferries in the National park Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer (Niedersachsen Wadden Sea National Park) which has been granted UNESCO world natural heritage status.

Ballast Water Management in the Ports

In order to prevent aquatic organisms from being absorbed and carried off through the intake of ballast water, the International Maritime Organization approved the Ballast Water Agreement in the year 2004. As soon as 30 States representing 35% of the world merchant shipping tonnage have accepted the agreement, it will come into effect. This means that vessels will be obligated to install ballast water treatment systems on board by 2016 according to their year of construction and size. Prior to this a transitional period of varying length of time applies in which the ports can make a contribution to the protection of the surrounding ecological systems by providing possibilities to treat the ballast water. In Lower Saxony solutions for ballast water management in the ports are already being looked into.

In the ports of Niedersachsen entrepreneurial action will continue to uphold the pledge to provide high quality and performance and will increasingly take into account environmental and energy efficiency aspects in order to strengthen and stabilise the long-term competitiveness of the Seaports of Niedersachsen.