Opposition urges speed in making German ports leading energy hubs – media
The conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group opposition is calling on the German government to accelerate planning and approval procedures and greater investment in the expansion of infrastructure for a new national port strategy to improve the role seaports in the European energy transition, business daily Handelsblatt reports. German ports have “the potential to become Europe's leading energy and raw materials hubs,” CDU transport politician Christoph Ploß told the newspaper. The geopolitical and energy supply challenges resulting from Russia’s war on Ukraine only added urgency to this aim, Ploß argued. “The traffic light coalition [government of chancellor Olaf Scholz] must seize this opportunity and ensure that the necessary infrastructure can be built as quickly as possible,” he added. The German parliament is set to discuss the role of ports on 19 January. The government had originally wanted to complete the strategy in summer 2024, but pushed discussions forward in view of the energy crisis and the need to “strengthen the competitiveness and resilience of German sea and inland ports and port operations,” according to Handelsblatt. Developing ports into sustainable hubs for the energy transition by exploring their potential for integrated electricity systems, hydrogen and other low-CO2 fuels should be explored in the strategy. Guidelines for the new strategy should be available by summer and presented at the next maritime conference in mid-September, the newspaper reports.
The importance of ports as energy hubs grew recently as a result of the energy crisis, with the building of floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals seen as paramount to ensuring energy supply security in Germany. Beyond acting as a new import routes for fossil LNG, ports in the future should also accommodate green hydrogen infrastructure, allow oceangoing vessels supply with clean energy and enable a rapid expansion of offshore wind capacity.