Climate & Air

Good Climate

Climate change and the adjustment to its consequences pose one of the biggest challenges for us. As an energy-intensive company, we wish to make an essential contribution towards climate protection. We therefore increasingly support the utilization of renewable energies for the maintenance and the expansion of the ports. We are always striving to seek out energy-saving and lower-emission alternatives to keep our footprint as low as possible. What's good for the climate is good for our company.

We actively apply measures for the protection of the climate. Our business model closely associates energy, greenhouse gas emissions, and air pollutants. Our Sustainability Goals until 2025 acknowledge this fact. We have resolved to reduce our emissions (in comparison to 2017) by 25%, and to significantly lower our energy consumption by completely (100%) switching our exterior lighting to LED technology. In addition, we want to support a better climate through the increased use of alternative fuels. During the reporting period, we have already accelerated these projects quite a bit.

The superordinate topic ‘energy’ is placed with our staff department ‘Strategic Corporate Development’. The operational responsibility lies with the energy managers in the individual branch offices. During frequent meetings, pertinent topics and projects are discussed and measures are decided. The round table ‘Energy Efficiency’ offers a platform for all employees working on the topic. The coordination of the strategic and operational goals, measures, and parameters for the topics Energy and Climate Protection is overseen by the Sustainability Management within the scope of the Sustainability Strategy.

Energy Monitoring

2015 was the first time that we performed an energy audit pursuant to DIN EN 16247-1. We have built on this basis to create an energy monitoring system. We have been using it since 2016 to capture any energy-relevant data. The database is the controlling instrument of our energy policy and it simultaneously serves as the basis for the energy audit. In addition to the energy sources used, the system assigns the most important energy consumptions to the pertinent facilities, buildings, and systems. The monitoring permits us to recognize savings potentials earlier and to utilize them in a better way.


In general, there are four factors that are crucial for our energy consumption:

1. Cargo Handling: The amount of handled cargo and the required material and work input that goes along with it are influencing our energy consumption, e.g., through the deployment of equipment and facilities.

2. System Technology and Control: Technical innovations in the existing system technology and for the system control are improving the energy efficiency.

3. Behavior: Our employees are operating equipment and systems that use a lot of energy. Training, education, instructions, etc. can contribute to a more efficient utilization. 

4. Environmental Conditions: On the one hand, the weather dictates the operation of heating systems in our warehouses, workshops, and buildings. On the other hand, the number of storm events influences the dredge activities necessary for maintaining the proper water depths.

Energy Consumption

Energy Consumption

Electricity, natural gas, and diesel make up more than 95% of our energy consumption. In order to make utilization of these energy sources also more environmentally- and climate-friendly, we streamline the use of traditional energy sources and replace them - wherever possible - with climate-friendly and energy-saving alternatives. 
Here, one of the ongoing activities lies in the modernization and/or retrofitting of our buildings, for instance by utilizing more energy-efficient heating systems. We also improve our land and water vehicle fleet using Sustainability Aspects through energy-efficient propulsion systems or alternative fuels. One important measure that immediately pays a dividend towards our Sustainability Strategy: The gradual streamlining of the port lighting by deploying smart LED systems.

Only for the rest of the energy consumptions do we encounter increased values, for example in 2019, which can be explained by the conversion in our passenger car fleet and the associated increase of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas). All the other energy values during the reporting period were reduced. (See table).

We should note that: When it comes to energy consumption, we have already made good progress, but our immediate influence on it has its limits.
Some of the reasons are founded in technical restrictions, stemming from our business model. Increased dredging, for instance, is directly related to an increased consumption of ships’ diesel. Since dredging is dependent on natural environmental impact, the natural sediment dynamics of the North Sea can clearly influence the annual energy consumption. In addition, detrimental weather conditions may yet again drive up the consumption of natural gas within the coming years.

Another parameter is the energy intensity. It puts energy consumption in relation to business figures, such as the cargo handling volume. Due to our progress, even this indicator had a positive development: Our energy consumption for each metric ton of cargo handling within the past five years has dropped by more than 20%, and in 2019, it reached a value of 0.64 kWh/t.

Energy intensity kWh Energy/t Cargo handling


Climate Protection and Air Pollutants

Maritime shipping - when you compare it by each ton kilometer - produces significantly less CO2 than transport on land.  Still, the exhaust fumes from ships’ engines impair the environment, since ships traveling outside the SECA and ECA area are largely operated with heavy fuel oil. It contains significantly more sulfur oxides and other pollutants (such as heavy metals, nitric oxides, etc.) than you will find in fuels used in land transport. While maritime shipping causes 3% of the CO2 emissions globally, 13% of all air pollutants are attributed to it.

The air emissions in the port come from various sources: from the port operators, the maritime shipping industry (such as ship owners and ship operators), and from other companies within the port. To some of the emissions originating within the port we only have  a limited impact, e. g. on the emissions of foreign ships, or from hinterland transport.

In the future, we want to largely reduce emissions that can be controlled by us. For these purposes, we started recording in 2017 for the first time greenhouse gas emissions in CO2-equivalent values, and attributed them to various sources. Within this process, we were primarily guided by the scopes of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG protocol).
In doing so, we put an emphasis on direct (Scope 1) and indirect GHG emissions (Scope 2). For now, the additional indirect emissions (Scope 3) in the pre- and post-chain of our business activity, remain unrecorded (see images below).

CO2 at NPorts


Within our Sustainability Strategy, we have formulated our express goal to reduce our emission by 2025 (compared to 2017) by 25%. Even as early as 2019, we were able to reach half of that goal with a reduction of 12%.
– a development that gives us confidence in reaching this goal. Compared to 2014, we actually almost cut our emissions in half. We are certain that the large-scale change-over to eco electricity played a large role in this, lowering the electricity-based CO2 emissions by 86% (see image).

Direct Emissions

In order to lower our direct emissions - climate gases and air pollutants, among others - we generally pursue two approaches: (1) Improvement of the energy efficiency, and (2) Promotion of renewable energies in the port.

Energy Efficiency

One way to increase the energy efficiency is the gradual change-over to an eco-friendly vehicle fleet. In 2019, we have already swapped out a large number of our fleet with electric vehicles. We are now up to some 20 electric vehicles and 25 charging stations. A step-by-step expansion is in the planning. In addition to this conversion, streamlining of our facilities and systems, as well as the purchase of eco-friendly IT devices for our administration, the lighting in the port plays a significant role as a source of energy and emissions.
It accounts for some 20% of our electricity consumption.

Due to this, we created in 2016 a branch-transcending expert group that is tasked with exploring sustainable port lighting, and we made the complete conversion to LED technologies an integral part of our Sustainability Goals until 2025. Experts from all port locations meet at regular intervals to discuss the gradual implementation of this project. LED light sources feature a significantly longer life span than the high-pressure sodium vapor lamps you typically find in a port setting, and they consume less energy. They are also easier to dispose of, since they operate without the need for detrimental substances such as mercury or lead.

Through this, we want to take advantage of the savings potential versus traditional lighting (up to 70%). In this regard, we were able to make a big step forward during the reporting period: Each branch drew up a plan with concrete measures and figures, to meet the goal of “100% LED”. Implementation has already started. In 2019, the LED portion of the overall lighting (LED ratio) reached 19%.

In addition, we are sharpening the employees’ awareness towards planning and acting energy-efficiently. In collaboration with the Oldenburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry, some of our apprentices were able to garner the add-on qualification as Energy Scouts. During the reporting period, we trained ten new Energy Scouts. They develop and implement energy projects in the individual branches to help improve our energy efficiency.

Renewable Energies

To us, renewable energies are an important tweak mechanism for the permanent reduction of the CO2 output from electricity consumption. With our switch to eco-electricity in 2017, we have already received 87% of our electricity from renewable resources. For the future, we are planning to exclusively use eco-electricity.

In 2019, about a quarter (26%) of our total energy con-sumption was attributable to renewable energies. Our current focus is also on the utilization of energy from the sun through photovoltaic (PV) systems that are installed on free and unused roof areas. In December of 2018, our first PV system on the roofs of our workshops with a capacity of 100 kWp went online and onto the grid at the Port of Emden. In the meantime, another system went into operation in Norddeich.

With the help of the PV systems, we supply our own properties in the port with eco-friendly solar power. In addition, we have been taking advantage of geothermal energy at our site in Emden for years now, and we are determined to utilize the energy source in new buildings at a much higher rate in the future. An example of additional goals and ideas to increase the portion of renewable energies can be found in small wind power plants.

Eco Electricity at NPorts

Air Pollutants

The utilization of fuels (particular ships’ diesel) is connected to the contribution of air pollutants, among other things. The emissions from fuels, in particular nitric oxides (NOx) and of fine particulates (fine particle dust) are a particular challenge for the efforts to keep the air clean. We intend to also reduce these emissions with the help of alternative fuels.
Therefore in 2019, we tested the deployment of alternative fuels, and we have already been able to put them to use here and there. For instance, we were able to convert the water injection device on our dredger in Cuxhaven from diesel to GtL (Gas to Liquid).

This means a savings of between 2 and 3% in CO2 emissions. The NOx and particulates readings were significantly reduced. Another example is the possibility for fuel bunkering for ships in the first LNG fueling in Emden, using the Ship2Ship process, where one ship transfers LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) to another ship. In another project, we are testing the possibility to utilize methanol as fuel on one of our dredging vessels.

Indirect Emissions

Incentives for Environmentally-Friendly Shipping

In order to improve the ecological balance sheet of maritime shipping, new approaches towards the protection of the climate and the preservation of cleanliness of the oceans are required. We are pursuing two approaches to create incentives for more eco-friendly shipping.

As a member of the World Port Climate Initiative (WPCI), we have been granting a so-called ESI (Environmental Ship Index) Rebate for certified ships. The ESI Certificate is issued by the WPCI. The index informs about the environmental performance of ships in terms of their avoidance to produce air-polluting emissions (NOx and SOx), as well as CO2. We use the index as a basis for granting vessels rebates on harbor dues, thereby promoting sustainability in maritime shipping. And so far, it has been increasingly successful: For the reporting period of 2019, the number of ships receiving the ESI Rebate has almost doubled, when compared with 2017. We are certain that this increase is due to the fact that many of our customers are aware of these measures and increasingly take advantage of them for their ships. Another explanation may be found in many ship owners switching their ships to low-sulfur fuels in 2019. This helps ships reach high ESI scores more easily and makes them eligible faster for the above-mentioned rebates. The reason behind this switch can be found in the so-called IMO Regulation 2020. This regulation became effective in early 2020 and stipulates that ships may only use fuels with a sulfur contents of max. 0.5% from here on out.
In addition, we have been creating additional incentives for the use of cleaner fuels since early 2018 with our own eco fuel rebate. With it, we are rewarding ships exclusively operating with LNG, methanol, or ethanol, with a rebate on harbor dues of up to 20%.

Ships featuring dual-fuel engines receive a 15% rebate. Unlike the ESI Rebate, there is no separate registration necessary for this. The ships must merely prove that they are operated with an alternative fuel. With this, we are creating a low-threshold incentive for eco- and climate-friendly behavior.

Shore Power

Once a ship is in port, it can significantly reduce harmful emissions by feeding shore power into the board grid for the length of its stay.
On the quay and on board, electrical connectors and transformers must be installed, which will provide power with the voltages and frequencies required throughout the ship's grid. Unlike barges, leisure crafts, and smaller ocean-going vessels, there are currently only very few freight vessels equipped to receive shore power in our ports. In our ports, those smaller crafts have already been supplied with shore power for many years. For the long term, we are planning to expand the offering and performance, particularly in places, where we can supply larger ships with power.  We have already created the construction prerequisites, for instance at the Niedersachsen Quay in Brake. In addition, we have built a new shore power system for larger freight vessels in 2018 in Cuxhaven with a capacity of 630 kW.


Research Projects

Since December of 2018, we are spearheading the project “WASh2Emden - Innovative and Eco-Friendly Hydrogen Applications in the Seaport of Emden”. Specifically, this project is looking into opportunities to make excess electricity from wind power usable as “green” hydrogen that can be made available for many different applications within the port, which in turn would significantly reduce CO2 emissions and air pollutants.

In 2019, within the scope of this project, we conducted a comprehensive survey of the energy consumption for the entire Port of Emden. The interesting and positive findings showed that we, as port infrastructure operator NPorts, are only responsible for less than 1% of the CO2 emissions in the Port of Emden. And here too, we are operating the entire port infrastructure, such as bridges, locks, the port pumping station, the lighting, and other facilities.