Decarbonising the industry blog series: Ports

May 28, 2021

In this series of blogs, we will cover how the decarbonisation of industry plays a pivotal role in Europe’s energy transition, is essential for meeting EU Green Deal targets and the ambition to be climate neutral by 2050.

In our first blog we looked at the growth of the European solar PV market and how it is already playing a huge part in the new industrial revolution.

In this, our second blog, we will be discussing ports and their infrastructure which provides a thriving ecosystem for industry. On top of traditional activities such as cargo and logistics, ports also support the energy industry (generation, import and export, grids, offshore wind) – as well as heavy energy intensive industry such as chemical, cement, manufacturing and logistics. All these sectors choose ports as a location for their facilities because of the industrial land available and easy logistics for import and export. This multisector environment means that ports need to be key players in the energy transition – which of course comes with its own set of unique challenges.

EIT InnoEnergy is committed to helping ports decarbonise their activities quickly and effectively. Many of the solutions in our portfolio of companies respond to the energy transition challenges that ports are facing, which you can see first-hand at The Business Booster


Decarbonisation is the biggest challenge that ports, and the companies that are situated within such infrastructure, face. Pressure to comply is coming via policy and regulation, in particular the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). As such, there is now a cap on the total amount that companies can emit each year and a need for companies to have permits to produce emissions, or face fines. The price of CO2/ton in this market has been soaring and has recently reached 52€/ton.

There is therefore clear financial incentive for energy intensive industries to cut their emissions. This will then be extended to the maritime industry from 2022, when ships will also be penalised for their C02 emissions.


Electrification of port activities is the first option to support decarbonisation. With the idea that electricity will come from renewables, we should be able to impact much of the mobility and logistics related to ports. For example, there are already some initiatives to provide electrical shore power to docked ships. But on the other hand, it is not yet clear if there will be a case for electric trucks in the near future.

Such transformations require a lot of investment in infrastructure and some port operators are reluctant due to the significant investments that need to be made, as well as the long lead time.


Local port logistics, such as (mobile) cranes, automatic guided vehicles and straddle carriers can find a solution in EIT InnoEnergy’s portfolio company Skeleton Technologies. The company has developed KERS, an ultracapacitor to electrify existing harbour cranes. This will replace the traditional diesel generators and herewith decarbonise this activity as well as allow them to save money.

The energy generated when a container is lowered is usually burned in the braking resistors, but with this ultracapacitor-powered system, the excess energy can be captured and re-used to help lift the containers. It offers improved lifetime, less noise and over 30% lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Skeleton’s ultracapacitors have already been implemented in retrofitting cranes in the Port of Amsterdam and in Muuga Harbour (Estonia).


Broader electrification of various sectors will raise the need for electricity. If we add to this the intermittence of renewables, we understand why storage becomes so key for the energy transition to succeed.

A lot is happening in this area and mainly the search for cost effective storage solutions. Last April Elestor, another of our portfolio companies, entered a joint development agreement with Vopak, the largest tank storage company which is specialised in the storage of chemicals and gasses.

Elestor manufactures a flow battery with Hydrogen and Bromine as active materials, that stores electricity at a fraction of the cost of traditional batteries, safely and with a long lifetime.

Together, Elestor and Vopak are planning to bring up the capacity of Elestor’s storage solution to 10s and 100s MWs to be able to cover industrial needs.


The European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center (EGHAC) will drive forward the sector in Europe to create a green hydrogen economy with an annual market volume of 100 billion euros by 2025.

This initiative is particularly relevant for ports, as they host a lot of heavy industries which are difficult to electrify. Green hydrogen will also play a role in the decarbonisation of ship transport as it can be used to create green ammonia which is considered as a sustainable fuel for long haul ships

The Port of Amsterdam, for example, is leading the way in developing a green hydrogen cluster with initiatives underway in the Amsterdam metropolitan region that ensure the production and storage of green hydrogen.

Under the name H2Gate, the Port of Amsterdam, Evos, Electriq Global, Hydrogenious and Hysilabs, a start-up from EIT InnoEnergy’s portfolio, are working on a blueprint for an import, storage, distribution and trade hub of green hydrogen. The project aims at building facilities with a total throughput capacity of 1 million tons of hydrogen per year, sketching a roadmap towards 2030 and beyond.

To transport large quantities of hydrogen, it must be highly compressed and cooled. The H2Gate project is seen as an important step in the realisation of an international hydrogen supply chain on a commercial scale as it explores the possibilities of the different hydrogen carriers and may lead to studies and pilot projects later on. This supply chain is expected to scale up by the end of this decade.


To ensure Europe’s successful transition to a carbon-neutral future, port authorities and all stakeholders within ports must join forces to coordinated strategies. What is more, relevant policies need to be developed and implemented by governments and authorities.

EIT InnoEnergy places itself at the heart of this transformation. By supporting large industrial projects we play a key role in supporting Europe to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Our flagship event, The Business Booster, offers a rare opportunity to discover and connect with over 150 companies in our portfolio, many of which are making a significant impact on the decarbonisation agenda for ports. From crane operators to waste water treatment, energy production to hydrogen transportation, The Business Booster 2021 offers ways to help advance the agenda of European ports as catalysts in a new green industrial revolution.