Wanted: More sustainable ports

article picture: Wanted: More sustainable ports


When talking about sustainability in maritime, one can hardly ignore the ports. In the EU alone, there are over one thousand ports, handling goods in the excess of 4 billion tonnes. But just how green are they?

In addition to being a vital link in the worldwide shipping logistics chain, the ports play a key role in assuring a greener maritime sector. Ports handle and dispose waste from ships and can facilitate the use of alternative fuels and energy supplies. Through port call optimization, ship time spent at berth can be minimized, thus reducing the generation of associated air emissions. Lately, onshore power supply (OPS) has become a big driver in the Green Ports agenda.

Andreas Slotte, Head of Sustainability at the Port of Helsinki, points out that as EU’s Fit for 55 regulation package is now taking shape, one key aspect of the package concerns onshore power supply.

“During the last five years we’ve build our OPS system to full coverage – and it’s something the liner vessels really appreciate, since these ships require lots of power and call on Helsinki daily,” Andreas Slotte, Head of Sustainability at the Port of Helsinki says.

“Onshore power supply will be mandatory from the year 2030 onwards, for some segments,” Slotte says, adding that Port of Helsinki has been perfecting its own OPS solution in recent years: for example, in 2021 the LJ7 and LJ8 berths at West Harbour were equipped with onshore power connections and OPS at South Harbour was completed, as well.

“During the last five years we’ve build our OPS system to full coverage – and it’s something the liner vessels really appreciate, since these ships require lots of power and call on Helsinki daily,” he says.


In October 2023, it was announced that Helsinki and Tallinn will create a Green Corridor to ensure and accelerate the creation of a climate neutral customer journey and maritime Green Corridor between Helsinki – Tallinn and Vuosaari – Muuga connections.

This Green Corridor is a shipping route and an umbrella for several projects at sea, and in shore operations in Helsinki and Tallinn, which aim to reduce emissions and increase the use of solutions of zero (or near zero) emissions. The partners in the Green Corridor initiative are the cities and the ports of Helsinki and Tallinn, Rederi AB Eckerö, Tallink Grupp and Viking Line as well as the Estonian Ministry of Climate.

Andreas Slotte notes that, currently, Green Corridors are being set up around the world, but rarely with so many committed partners: typically, you have two ports and a shipping line in the venture.

“In this Finland – Estonia Green Corridor, there are three shipping companies which are competitors as such – but still want to contribute to sustainability together. That’s pretty rare and really quite fantastic,” Slotte says.



This Green Corridor is an active one, since there are annually 9 million passengers and 2 million vehicles crossing the sea between Helsinki and Tallinn. While ferry business is still seen as a necessity for the well-being of the “Twin Cities,” reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has become an urgent issue for all parties involved.

The goal of this Green Corridor is to boost the transition to a climate neutral and sustainable customer journey for both passengers and cargo of the related sea routes. This means that there will be joint roadmaps for shipping companies, cities and ports with founding – and other partners – to assist them with achieving zeroemission (and other) goals.

Activities within the Green Corridor are geared towards climate neutrality and, at the same time, increasing of passenger and cargo flow between the two countries. In addition, it is vital to strengthen the competitiveness and vitality of the corridor as well as to have some joint scientific studies carried out to enhance project activities and increase knowledge and knowledge-sharing. Joining relevant international initiatives for the development of Green Corridors is also being prepared as part of the venture.


Andreas Slotte reports that, of late, Port of Helsinki has been achieving other green goals, too. The TWIN-PORT III and TWIN-PORT IV projects, partly funded by the EU, were completed this year at Port of Helsinki. The projects led to various improvements, the common thread of which was the pursuit of responsible, efficient and modern port operations and, in particular, the streamlining of ship traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn.

In fact, the name ‘TWIN-PORT’ refers to the shipping and port operations between Finland and Estonia via the ports of Helsinki and Tallinn.

“We have installed, for example, double ramps which are a very green investment as such, since they shorten the time in port, which in turn enables a more fuel-efficient sea voyage,” explains Slotte. In addition, a new Smart Port gate system for vehicles at West Harbour and Katajanokka was introduced at the beginning of summer 2023.



According to Slotte, adapting to a new, more sustainable world is simply “a must” for all the actors of the sector.

“Those who don’t pay attention to sustainability will become irrelevant rather soon,” he says, adding that all players must show initiative in their green pursuits and continue to go deeper and wider.

“Also, the long-term competitiveness of ports, for example, will benefit from a more sustainable approach, even if there are costs involved in the short term.”

Sustainability is already a cornerstone of many a strategy drawn up by the maritime companies in recent times – and this trend will only continue and strengthen. “Shipping companies are heavily focused on sustainability. We are not going to be an interesting partner for them if we do nothing.”

In trying times, there’s not much money to go around – so is sustainability facing headwinds that it can’t overcome right now? – Slotte feels that the answer may lie in allocating resources more wisely.

“Green investments may not take a hit, if prioritizing is made right. Futureproofing the business must be on everybody’s agenda in any case,” he encourages.


25 % reduction in vessel emissions by the year 2030
- Shore power capabilities for several berths
- Making alternative fuels available at Helsinki ports
- The continued development of an environmental program targeted at ships

60 % reduction in emissions from heavy goods vehicles by 2030
- Minimizing the use of transport vehicles at ports
- Introducing incentives to use low-emission vehicles

60 % reduction in emissions from work machines used in the harbor area by 2030
- Enabling the electrification of work machine infrastructure
- Encouraging the use of biofuels

The Port of Helsinki should be 100% carbon neutral in terms of its own emissions by 2025
- Minimizing the Port’s energy consumption by modernizing heating, installing LED lighting, and increasing the use of solar panels
- Acquiring necessary energy from carbon-free sources
- Helping to lower subcontractors’ carbon footprints via procurement

by: Sami J. Anteroinen

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