The Hamburg Senate will build on the port’s existing strengths and make it fit for the future – guided by the vision 2040 Port of Innovation: Quality, Sustainability, Value Creation. The port’s goals and development opportunities up until 2040 have been divided into seven action areas. These are based on the vision and on four guiding principles: value creation and quality; sustainability and climate action; innovation; and customer focus and competitiveness.
“The expansion of digital and autonomous systems is making the Port of Hamburg more efficient and climate-friendly, strengthening its ability to compete with other European ports and opening up new value creation potential.”
Goal A – 1
To increase competitiveness by developing digital and autonomous systems
Goal A – 2
To better connect stakeholders in a digital ecosystem
Goal A – 3
To ensure cybersecurity (digital trust)
Goal A – 4
To establish the port as a centre of excellence for maritime digital logistics
Further digitalisation will allow optimised logistics management, comprehensive data-sharing and closer links between stakeholders. This will help to lay the foundations for new growth. A strategic commercial development and cluster policy will allow the port to participate in this economic dynamism and become a cradle of innovation in its own right.
A key role will be played in the digital transformation process by the ongoing expansion of communications infrastructure, with a particular focus on uninterrupted next-generation mobile coverage and a high-performance fibre-optic network. Building information modelling (BIM) and sensor technology will help support planning and predictive maintenance of the port’s physical infrastructure. BIM can be used to compile relevant, up-to-the-minute data into digital asset twins over the port infrastructure’s entire life cycle. These individual twins can then be integrated into an overarching Port Digital Twin.
Thanks to institutions such as the Hamburg Port Authority’s (HPA) Nautical Center and the Hamburg Vessel Coordination Center (HVCC), Hamburg is one of the world’s leading ports when it comes to digitalisation. To enable efficient collaboration at points where different port processes intersect, stakeholders will in future be connected by an ecosystem of new and existing platforms. At the core of this ecosystem will be a network of networks that supports further digital collaboration between privately organised logistics and public infrastructure/traffic management.
Cyberattacks and their effects are one of the greatest threats to companies and infrastructure. To make the system as a whole more resilient to such attacks, public-sector agencies and relevant port stakeholders are working together on a collective defence strategy.
The Port of Hamburg offers ideal conditions to build a world-leading hub for digital maritime logistics. One key foundation will be the homePORT innovation campus, which provides the maritime industry with a real-world laboratory for developing and testing innovative technologies. The national pilot project Border One Stop Shop (BOSS) is also working to further increase digital collaboration between the authorities responsible for goods import control at the Port of Hamburg.
Climate action, circular economy and environmental sustainability
“Decarbonisation, renewable energy, circular business models and conservation of vital natural resources will allow the Port of Hamburg to combine economic success with carbon neutrality and environmental sustainability.”
Goal B – 1
To achieve climate neutrality in the port
Goal B – 2
To develop and expand hydrogen activities in the port
Goal B – 3
To foster resource-efficient growth
Goal B – 4
To combine ecological balance with economic efficiency
Carbon-neutral cargo handling at the terminals, low-emission transport systems in the port and a high proportion of hinterland transport by rail will significantly reduce the climate impact of freight traffic. This will also allow the port to cater to growing demand for climate-neutral products and services. Furthermore, there will be various measures to help embed hydrogen technology in north Germany’s industrial policy. Other steps to boost Hamburg’s profile as an environmentally friendly, climate-neutral, future-ready port will include factoring the port’s environmental importance into planning; attracting sustainable companies to the port; and supporting existing industrial partners to make the transition to circular business models.
The Port of Hamburg is significantly reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants from cargo handling and transport, with the goal of making its operations net zero carbon by 2040. To monitor and manage this process, standardised carbon reporting will be introduced for the port based on the methodology set out in the Hamburg Climate Plan. One key sustainability measure will be the transition to new energy sources. Greenhouse gas emissions will be significantly reduced by providing renewable shore power for container, inland and cruise ships. Another key goal is to further increase the modal share of eco-friendly rail and inland waterway transport.
The Port of Hamburg will be developed into a leading hydrogen hub. It offers potential unrivalled anywhere else in Germany to consolidate and integrate the hydrogen value chain and hydrogen logistics. One key project at the port will be the construction of a large electrolysis plant with an initial capacity of 100 MW on the former site of the decommissioned Moorburg power station.
The circular economy also offers great potential for value creation and sustainability; an analysis of this potential will be undertaken with the involvement of all relevant companies and stakeholders. Measures are also planned to foster a circular, resource-sensitive planning and construction regime.
The port’s water and land areas also make an important contribution to biodiversity. This contribution will be further enhanced in line with the Port Development Plan’s guiding principles: for example, by extending conservation measures and minimising soil sealing and light/pollutant emissions.
“Fit-for-purpose infrastructure is essential for efficient, competitive and sustainable port operations. The infrastructure will be expanded in line with demand and used in a resource-efficient manner.”
Goal C – 1
To optimise nautical conditions
Goal C – 2
To maintain water depth and develop the tidal section of the Elbe
Goal C – 3
To improve transport infrastructure in the port
Goal C – 4
To maintain and expand hinterland connections by rail, water and road
Goal C – 5
To support and make more efficient use of infrastructure through national and international cooperation
Goal C – 6
To improve infrastructure for cruise ships
Goal C – 7
To adapt the port to climate change impacts and strengthen infrastructure resilience
Infrastructure needs to be adapted to changing customer requirements and rising freight volumes. Digital traffic management will improve the performance of existing systems. In order to reduce carbon emissions from freight transport, the port railway and rail connections to the hinterland will be further strengthened and expanded.
The adjustment of the river Elbe fairway, which was completed in 2022, is crucial to maintaining the Port of Hamburg’s functionality as a multipurpose port and ensuring it can still be accessed by large ships. Another important measure is the enlargement of the access channel to the container terminals at Parkhafen and Waltershofer Hafen (“Western expansion” project). Berths, waiting areas and quay walls will also be extended and maintained in the coming years.
Effective, adaptable sediment management is likewise vital to ensure reliable seaward access and protect biodiversity in the tidal section of the Elbe. That will require suitable disposal sites for dredged material with adequate capacity to be maintained or established over the long term at the mouth of the Elbe estuary and in the German Bight. These measures must give high priority to environmental factors and water/marine conservation.
One particular focus will be the expansion of the port railway in order to improve the port’s capacity and facilitate its transition to climate-friendly transport. To promote the transport of freight by rail, connections to the port rail network will be prioritised in development projects and incentives will be put in place to shift intra-port and hinterland transport from road to rail. The HPA has developed an extensive expansion programme to strengthen the port railway network and make it more attractive. The programme comprises a number of measures that will be rolled out in phases.
To keep the port functional and competitive, the road network will also be maintained and expanded to ensure it is fit for purpose. In the coming years, the existing bridge over the Köhlbrand will be replaced by a suitable crossing in order to secure the long-term capacity and functionality of the vital east–west axis. The federal government’s planned construction of the A 26 (East) motorway will also further improve the port’s connection to the national road network. Strong hinterland connections are likewise key to the port’s competitiveness. The Hamburg Senate is therefore lobbying both the federal government and EU for an expansion of transport infrastructure (especially rail infrastructure) to meet demand.
Another goal is to develop Hamburg into one of Europe’s most diverse and sustainable cruise ports. Further improvements will be made to the necessary infrastructure, including increasing terminal capacities to meet demand. The focus will be on constructing the new Cruise Center HafenCity and evaluating options for expanding the Cruise Center Steinwerder.
Commercial development and land use strategy
“Strengthening the multipurpose port: active land management will ensure a future-focused industry mix, more efficient use of land and increased value creation.”
Goal D – 1
To redefine criteria for land allocation, bolster value creation and innovation, use land more efficiently
Goal D – 2
To concentrate sectors/industries into geographic zones
Goal D – 3
To secure and develop land, provide attractive business (re)location options
The land use strategy is key to ensuring land is available for forward-looking companies to establish or expand their operations. The aim is to retain successful companies in the port, to actively support structural change and to increase value creation. Hamburg’s multipurpose port will be strengthened and further developed by attracting new companies and industries. When allocating land, increased emphasis will be placed on the guiding principles of value creation, sustainability and competitiveness.
The central port area is a key development priority. The area will be transformed to enable attractive new developments, especially in the Steinwerder Süd area. The Waltershof area, which is focused on container handling, will likewise be developed in the coming years to increase its capacity. The “Western expansion” project, for example, offers potential to expand the existing terminal area at the Predöhlkai and install two new berths suitable for large modern container ships. The Port of Hamburg will also seek to position itself as a centre for sustainable energy: companies from the sustainable energy sector (storage, processing, suppliers, service providers, etc.) will be prioritised for developments on former fuel depots. The port expansion area Moorburg also offers further potential capacity.
Port areas that are suitable for multimodal transport connections will be strategically developed; the option to make increased use of rail and inland waterways could significantly enhance these areas’ value in terms of logistics and sustainability.
Given the high demand, it will also be necessary to make more efficient use of the scarce space that is already available, primarily through multistorey developments. To promote synergies and networking, companies from the same sector or with similar (infrastructure) requirements will be concentrated into geographic zones defined by certain uses. This will be achieved through a long-term transformation of land that is or becomes vacant.
Transformation of work
“The Port of Hamburg will effectively manage the transition to a new world of work. Secure jobs, decent working conditions and future-focused training will make it possible to retain existing employees and attract new ones.”
Goal E – 1
To identify skilled labour requirements and potential for development
Goal E – 2
To build links between stakeholders, and create opportunities for current and future employees
Goal E – 3
To make the port a more attractive place to work and attract new talent
Committed, qualified workers are crucial to the port’s long-term functioning. But their training needs are changing due to the transformation of the world of work, including specific trends in maritime logistics and port-related industries. Building on existing networks and on local and global knowledge transfer, education/training programmes will be developed and updated to meet demand, in collaboration with social partners. Another goal is to invest in making the port a more attractive place to work, so that it can compete for top talent.
Developing and implementing effective measures to support the transformation of work in the port will require continuous dialogue and collaboration by all relevant stakeholders and social partners. One overarching measure to help achieve this will be to establish a port working group in the Hamburg network for education and employment (ABBH/FKN).
Megatrends and developments such as sustainability, the energy transition, digitalisation and automation are transforming jobs and the associated training needs. Future skills/skilled labour needs will be identified and compared with the skills and qualifications of the existing workforce. Based on this analysis, education and training programmes will be updated accordingly. A first important step towards this goal is the study PortSkill 4.0, which is analysing the impact of the digital transformation on port-related careers and running pilot studies on new careers and learning methods.
Perceptions of the port as a place to work and train will also be analysed, as will the younger generation’s expectations of their workplace and work environment. Based on this analysis, a promotional campaign aimed at skilled workers will be developed, which will seek to increase awareness of port companies/careers and improve the Port of Hamburg’s image as an attractive place to work.
E-commerce as a new business segment
“The Port of Hamburg is a central e-commerce hub and is developing innovative logistics solutions for this segment.”
Goal F – 1
To integrate e-commerce freight flows
Goal F – 2
To help shape future e-commerce technologies
Goal F – 3
To position Hamburg as a pioneer of innovative delivery models
E-commerce is growing strongly and permanently establishing itself alongside traditional brick-and-mortar retail. As central logistics hubs, seaports are ideal places to organise the highly complex supply chains in this sector more efficiently and sustainably. A regional focus will be established by attracting relevant businesses, building links between existing stakeholders and supporting applied research. New delivery models will also be developed and tested, with the port and city serving as a real-world laboratory.
A study will examine potential for attracting further e-commerce logistics companies, possible land options and the establishment of an e-commerce excellence centre. These measures will build on existing initiatives, such as homePORT and Next Commerce Accelerator.
City and port
“The port has long been both a driver of economic prosperity in Hamburg and a symbol of the city that its residents positively identify with.”
Goal G – 1
To make Grasbrook an innovative city/port district
Goal G – 2
To improve access to/through the port and create better visitor experiences
Goal G – 3
To ensure continued dialogue between the port and stakeholders/residents
One thing that sets the Port of Hamburg apart is its central location in the heart of the city. Being a good neighbour requires the port to consider the interests of all relevant groups and stakeholders, without neglecting its own needs. It is important to be mindful of the impact of port traffic and emissions on local residents’ quality of life. At the same time, port businesses need reliable infrastructure and conditions for their operations and logistics.
One particularly important project is the development of the new Grasbrook district near the port, which alongside new residential areas will also include the Hafentorquartier: a forward-looking commercial quarter for innovative, value-creating companies with a connection to the port.
The port also offers a wealth of interesting places, viewpoints and experiences. It is important to improve access to and between these attractions for visitors, residents and port workers, whether they are travelling on foot or by bicycle, public transport or private motorised vehicle.
On the map below, you can click on selected strategic measures from the 2040 Port Development Plan. A complete list of measures can be found in the full version of the plan (available to download here).