Carbon neutral in 3 steps

The Port of Rotterdam Authority is working with the port business community and the government to create a future-proof port, a port where businesses can flourish both now and in the future, and provide income and jobs. The aim is to do all this while minimising the impact on the climate and nature.

We are working towards achieving a carbon-neutral and circular port in three steps. Steps one to three are efficiency & infrastructure, transitioning to a new energy system, and to a new raw materials and fuel system.

Futureproof business practice

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Step 1 - Energy transition

Industry can evolve into a carbon neutral economy step-by-step. Step 1 is for existing industry to take all kinds of efficiency measures, residual heat will be used to heat homes, company buildings and greenhouses, and CO₂ will be captured and stored beneath the North Sea. These developments will require a lot of additional infrastructure in the coming years including pipelines and cables.
Handling energy and raw materials more efficiently

Before society runs on a new energy system, there is still a lot of technology to be developed and scaled up. The first major step in the energy transition is therefore to use current sources more efficiently. According to studies, industry can save around 20% energy by optimising production processes, using better insulation, applying fuel savings or using alternative fuels, and above all by cooperating more intelligently with other companies. For example: one company has steam that another can use properly.
In the meantime, we are working hard on new technology needed to further improve the sustainability of the Rotterdam port area.

Rotterdam industry produces less CO₂ in 2018

Infrastructure: kilometres of new cables and pipelines

A lot of additional infrastructure is needed to improve sustainability in the Rotterdam port area in the coming years. This applies to various areas. The companies in the Rotterdam port area are currently closely connected. They supply products to each other via pipelines and cables. In the coming years, more and more sustainable products will be exchanged between companies, including steam, heat and hydrogen. We will also be generating more and more energy from offshore North Sea wind farms. The electricity generated by these wind farms needs to be transported to the high-voltage network on land. And finally, we will be capturing and storing CO₂ beneath the North Sea. New technology is needed for this infrastructure as well.

Step 2 - Towards a new energy system

Step 2 - Energy transition

Step 2 involves changing the energy system. Instead of using oil and gas for heating, industry will switch to electricity, hydrogen and green hydrogen. This demands a lot of and affordable electricity from sustainable sources such as sun and wind.
Electrification and hydrogen

The Port Authority is working with various partners towards the introduction of a large-scale hydrogen network across the port complex, making Rotterdam an international hub for hydrogen production, import, application and transport to other countries in Northwest Europe.

More about: hydrogen in Rotterdam

Solar power

Renewable energy such as wind and solar power is crucial for a carbon neutral port. The Port of Rotterdam Authority considers it vital that companies in the port generate more electricity from renewable sources. For example solar power. Company buildings in the port area are therefore increasingly being equipped with solar panels. This is good for the environment and will result in lower energy costs.

Solar panel advise

Geothermal energy

We are increasingly switching to sustainable energy sources, mainly solar and wind power. However, energy can also be obtained from the deep subsurface. Every 100 metres the ground is approximately 3 degrees warmer. This geothermal heat is also an alternative for fossil fuels.

Together with NAM, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is examining the opportunities for a geothermal heat source in the western port area. If the heat (approx 170 degrees) is brought to the surface as hot water, it can be used as a renewable source of energy, particularly for the production of steam for industry.

Film Diederik Jekel, science journalist about #geothermal heat


The port of Rotterdam is an important port for the import of biomass to Europe. Wood pellets, the main product group for biomass, are mainly used in the European heat and energy market. Excellent connections for supply and transit, processing of biomass in the port, existing cargo flows and specialised transhipment and storage facilities make Rotterdam an attractive biomass hub.

Read more about biomass


Step 3 - Energy transition

This step involves the replacement of fossil fuels. This can be done through the use of biomass, recycled materials, green hydrogen and CO₂.
Rotterdam as waste-to-value hub

Rotterdam’s port area – and the associated port and industrial area in nearby Moerdijk – is an attractive location for giving shape to the circular economy. The region’s extensive network of connections with the hinterland offers an excellent point of departure for bundling circular activities. And Europe’s largest sea port is not only a major hub for international cargo flows; it is also one of the world’s foremost centres of refining and chemical production.

This concentration of interwoven industrial activities offers an excellent opportunity to valorise and utilise the wide range of residual flows that are found (and can be imported) in the greater Rotterdam area. Parties in the region are working to realise a smart infrastructure for the transport of different flows – including steam, heat, CO2 and hydrogen – as well as a joint system for wastewater treatment, sludge processing and bleaching earth that can link together a variety of companies.

Read more about Rotterdam as Waste-to-Value hub

Circular Economy

In the circular economy, production, innovation and recycling are key issues. Products and substances are reused as far as possible. The Rotterdam port area, with its many circular companies and projects, is an attractive region for the circular economy. Extensive connections with the hinterland offer a strong starting position for the reuse of waste streams. Green hydrogen will be used on a large scale as energy for industry and raw material for the chemical industry. The port will also be an important import port for secondary raw materials (waste, plastic) and sustainable biomass. In addition to hydrogen, carbon is also needed to manufacture products. This requires the cooperation of parties throughout the production chain: obtaining raw materials, product design, production process, repair, reuse and recycling.

Together with others, the Port Authority is exploring how to handle raw materials. We are investing in, facilitating and advising potential coalition partners. We aim to support existing industry in the transition from fossil fuels to bio-based and circular, while also attracting new industry.

Port of Rotterdam: Circular Hotspot

CO₂ as a building block

Recycling and biomass

Mechanical recycling is the most environmentally and cost efficient way of converting plastics so they can be properly recycled. The growing demand for high-quality raw materials for new plastics has resulted in a need for further expansion, scale-up and professionalisation of recycling capacity in Europe. The presence of primary plastics manufacturers and the large supply of waste and sorted flows make the Rotterdam region an interesting location for high-quality mechanical recycling.

In addition to mechanical recycling, chemical recycling technologies offer the opportunity to convert non-recyclable plastic waste into products such as polymers, fuels, waxes, aromatics or synthetic gases.

Position paper circular economy

Webinar recording: Opportunities for renewable chemicals & fuels in the Port of Rotterdam
Watch the video and subscribe to our circular economy email list.

Dutch BioPort Region: the place to be for companies that want to grow in the biobased market

The Dutch BioPort Region (South-west part of the Netherlands) is the place to be for companies that want to produce value-added clean products, fuels and energy, based on circular and biobased resources.

The BioPort region provides good access to renewable feedstock, interesting markets and many potential partners to work with. Highly skilled talent is available. There is over 150 years of expertise in industrial biotech, with a leading hub in Delft.

Do you want to grow your biobased business? The Dutch BioPort Region offers opportunities to scale your business in all phases of growth. More information can be foundin the flyer or by contacting:

Stijn Effting, Program Manager renewable chemicals & fuels
+31 6 2252 5273


Sustainable transport

As well as industry, the transport of freight to, in and from the port area also needs to become climate friendly. Together with partners, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is developing a series of activities to help the logistics sector reduce CO₂ emissions.
Sustainable logistics chains

The Port of Rotterdam’s leading position as Europe’s largest port is partly due to its excellent accessibility by sea and good connections with the hinterland. But these high sea and inland shipping volumes also result in CO₂ emissions. That’s why the Port of Rotterdam Authority is taking the initiative to improve the sustainability of the logistics chains in which Rotterdam participates. We do this using such things as digital tools to ensure that vessels sail more efficiently, promoting the use of electric motors and electric cranes and by stimulating transition fuels such as biofuels and LNG. These transition fuels will be replaced in the long term by hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

Short-distance, port-related journeys by road will be emission-free by 2040

Particularly container transport by road offers opportunities in the transition towards alternative fuels. Because, even just focusing on short journeys through the port (under 30 kilometres), some 12,000 take place every day. Were these journeys to be emission-free, this would save around half a megaton in CO₂.

Deltalinqs, TLN, evofenedex and the Port of Rotterdam Authority have joined forces and formulated a joint ambition: short-distance, port-related journeys by road will be emission-free by 2040.
Container transport will continue to be a growing activity in the future. A further increase in container transport by road will therefore result in additional pressure on the Port of Rotterdam Authority’s objective of realising a carbon neutral port by 2050.

At the same time, heavy road transport in the Port of Rotterdam offers opportunities for the transition to alternative fuels. There is a relatively rapid development in sustainable trucks. This increases the possibility of demonstration projects and ultimately the transition to a more sustainable transport sector.

Three important conditions have been formulated that are key to the success of this ambition:

  • Availability: increase the availability of alternative fuels by contributing to the availability of charging and alternative refuelling infrastructures.
  • Scalability: increase the reliability and scaleability of alternative trucks and fuels by establishing pilots, demo projects and testing grounds.
  • Affordability: increase the affordability of alternative vehicles and fuels and, therefore, reduce the difference between conventional and alternative fuels by exploring the options of privileges/incentives.

To meet these conditions, the first phase will focus on constructing charging and refuelling infrastructure at strategic locations in the port industrial complex, establishing a point of contact for information and knowledge exchange on sustainable heavy road transport, exploring possible incentives to stimulate sustainable vehicles and using demonstration trucks on specific routes.

Container transport by E-trucks throughout the port in the pipeline

The switch to electric trucks is an option if we are to succeed in making heavy transport in and around the port of Rotterdam sustainable. But is this direction also realistic? The Port of Rotterdam Authority, together with TLN, has commissioned an exploratory study to gain better insight into the feasibility of electric container transport, both hydrogen-electric and battery-electric.

Switching to electric trucks prevents CO₂ emissions from the engine and trucks charged using green electricity are even zero-emission. Additional advantages are no local emissions and the reduction in noise nuisance from freight traffic.

The study demonstrates that the purchase of a battery-electric truck in 2024 can be cheaper than a diesel truck across its entire service life. However, optimised use of electric trucks in daily operations is a requirement for this. This demands the establishment of a good power and charging infrastructure. ‘Overnight charging’ will be required in the transition to battery-electric trucks.

Electric driving costs less than diesel calculated per kilometre, partly because an electromotor is more efficient. It is also expected that less servicing will be needed since electromotors have fewer moving parts compared with combustion engines.

Currently, however, there are no electric trucks available for container transport. This will change as a result of technological developments, price reductions and capacity increases in batteries and powertrains. It is expected that electric trucks will eventually become the optimal form of transport across many distances.

The hydrogen-electric truck is expected to only become cheaper than the diesel version in 2030, and the battery-electric truck will then still be cheaper.

Read the study here

Incentive Scheme Climate-Friendly Shipping

The Port of Rotterdam Authority’s Incentive Scheme for Climate-Friendly Shipping is stimulating the use of sustainable fuels in shipping. The Port of Rotterdam Authority initiated the Incentive Scheme for Climate-Friendly Shipping to create demonstration and other projects in Rotterdam in which new climate-friendly fuels are used in sea-going shipping. In total some € 5 million is available for shippers, shipping companies, fuel producers and suppliers, motor manufacturers and vessel owners. The scheme will run until the end of 2022.

Read all about this Incentive Scheme here

Discount on port dues for environmentally-friendly shipping

The Port of Rotterdam Authority rewards vessels that have a Green Award certificate by offering discounts on port dues. The Green Award is a quality mark for vessels that meet high requirements with respect to safety and the environment.

Read more about Green Award Discount

Ongoing projects

We are working in partnership with companies towards achieving a carbon-neutral port. Innovations are being tested in practice, new technologies are being implemented, and existing companies are starting to collaborate with new ones. We too are already taking measures to minimise emissions in the short term. The ongoing projects demonstrate that the Port of Rotterdam is working full steam ahead towards the energy transition.

Do you want to get started?

No one can look into the future, but we know with a fairly high degree of certainty that the CO2 price will rise and that environmental requirements will become increasingly stringent. Companies that step in on time and invest in carbon reduction, in circular activities and/or in biofuels and raw materials will be investing in long-term success.

The first steps don’t have to be difficult or very expensive. Sometimes they actually make money. For example, check out the various possibilities of installing solar panels on the roof of the premises, or investigate what measures your company can take to make energy savings. According to studies, industry can save around 20% in energy - and therefore costs - by using efficient production processes, improving insulation, making fuel savings and/or by using renewable fuels. Smarter collaboration with other companies is also an option. For instance, one company might produce a surplus of steam that another can put to good use.

Is your company getting more involved in the circular economy? The Port Authority has identified the current waste flows in the port. Examine the opportunities for developing new circular activities in the port here, or check out which circular companies you may be able to collaborate with are already in the port.

If you would you like to know how best to prepare for the future, we would be happy to share ideas with you. Please contact us.


Would you like to know more about the energy transition? Please contact:

Nico van Dooren Director Energy and Industry port of Rotterdam
Nico van Dooren
Director Energy and Industry
Maike Akkers
Program Manager Energy Infrastructure
Ankie Janssen Havenbedrijf Rotterdam
Ankie Janssen
Program Manager Alternative Fuels
Wilco van der Lans
Program Manager Renewables
Randolf Weterings, Program Manager Electrification and Hydrogen port of Rotterdam
Randolf Weterings
Program Manager Electrification and Hydrogen
Stijn Effting Havenbedrijf Rotterdam
Stijn Effting
Program Manager Renewable Chemicals and Fuels
Moinique de Moel Program Manager Circular Economy port of Rotterdam
Monique de Moel
Program Manager Circular Economy
Refke Gunnewijk port of Rotterdam
Refke Gunnewijk
Program Manager Sustainable Supply Chain

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