Germany’s federal government launched a National Ports Strategy last week. While some have criticized the approach for its lack of financing plans, others have welcomed the development.

thumbnail_Copyright. AgenturfürWirtschaftsförderungCuxhaven

Source: port of Cuxhaven

The strategy aims to strengthen the competitiveness of sea and inland ports; develop ports into sustainable hubs for the energy transition, climate-neutral shipping and industry; promote the digital transformation; as well as expand and protect transport infrastructure. 

It includes around 140 operational measures in addition to strategic objectives, including accelerated and simplified space provision and approval procedures as well as initiatives to attract and train skilled workers.

However, Stefan Thimm, managing director of the Federal Wind Energy Offshore Association (BWO), said that the national port strategy needs an expansion financing plan. “A port strategy without a budget to implement it is a huge disappointment. We need an immediate port expansion plan, otherwise the expansion of wind energy at sea will come to a standstill.”

He continued: “The federal government should pay for a large part of the port expansion; it ordered it. As of today [March 20], the federal government is skimming off the revenue from the offshore wind energy tenders but is only giving peanuts for the national task of expanding ports through port load equalisation. Aligning the capacities of seaports with the goals of the energy transition is a great opportunity. The examples of Esbjerg and Eemshaven show this.

“In this country, however, offshore wind energy companies are at risk because they cannot build their wind farms in the sea as planned without suitable ports. That’s why we as an industry continue to propose that part of the revenue from offshore wind energy auctions be used for this purpose.”

Following the strategy launch, there was welcome news in terms of financing for the port of Cuxhaven – which handles around 80 percent of all rotor blades installed in Germany, both for onshore and offshore projects. The government has committed to finance a 30-ha expansion of the offshore terminal, together with the state of Lower Saxony and the private port industry.

The estimated construction costs for the infrastructure are around EUR300 million (USD325 million).  Lower Saxony has already earmarked EUR100 million (USD108 million) in its budget, and the private port industry will contribute EUR100 million through concession fees. The federal government has now committed to the remaining EUR100 million.