Hamburg News: Hafen und Logistik - Shipping-Container-Schiff - © HMG Christian Spahrbier
Hamburgs Umweltsenator Jens Kerstan übergibt den Förderbescheid offiziell an die HHLA-Vorstandsvorsitzende Angela Titzrath © HHM / Annette Krüger

HHLA's container transport going electric

Kerstan presents EUR 8 million in European Regional Development Funds

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) will use container transporters powered by lithium-ion batteries to move the containers at HHLA Container Terminal Alternwerder (CTA) between ships and the yard in future, a press release said Monday (April 16, 2018). The use of green energy prevents any CO2, nitric oxide or particulate matter from being emitted. When the vehicles are at the charging station, the container transporters can help stabilise the grid by extracting or feeding precise amounts of energy.

Over EUR 8 million in funds

Jens Kerstan, Hamburg’s Minister of the Environment, presented Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of the HHLA’s Executive Board, with funding Monday (April, 16 2018) of approximately EUR 8 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the energy transition project. Kerstan remarked: “HHLA is implementing an exciting project in Altenwerder that will have three positive effects from the outset: It saves CO2 and thus helps protect the environment, it reduces nitric oxide emissions, which in turn reduces air pollution, and, to top it all off, it serves as a flexible storage solution therefore further advancing the energy transition.”

Prototype in use since 2016

A lithium-ion battery-powered automatic container transporter (automated guided vehicle or AGV) prototype has been in operation at the CTA since autumn 2016 and was successfully tested with an electric charging station. Six of these charging stations have been installed at Altenwerder. Some 25 lithium-ion battery-powered AGVs will go into operation at CTA in the next weeks. By late 2022, the fleet of almost 100 AGVs will have been completely switched to lithium-ion battery drive and a total of 18 charging stations will have been installed.


The ratio of energy consumed to actual power output for lithium-ion battery-powered AGVs is three times higher than that of diesel AGVs. The batteries can be recharged in just one and a half hours, are more durable and weigh less than lead batteries with weight reduced from 12 to four tonnes. Unlike lead acid batteries, lithium-ion batteries do not require any upkeep. This reduces costs and downtimes caused by maintenance.

If the container transporters are, for instance, at charging stations in the North Sea and there is no wind, software will prompt the batteries to feed energy back into the grid to balance out gaps between the generation and consumption of energy. If the offshore wind turbines are turning particularly fast, however, while lots of solar energy is being generated in the north, the batteries will receive a signal to begin charging.

Sources and further information:

ERDF in Hamburg

The project at the HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder is supported by the Ministry of Environment and Energy using funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the “Energy Transition in Companies” research project. The ERDF will provide Hamburg with approximately EUR 55 million between 2014 and 2020 to increase investment in growth and employment. The Ministry has earmarked approximately EUR 24 million to support projects in Hamburg that focus not only on increasing energy efficiency, but also on the flexible, energy market-driven operation of technical facilities. More information can be found on:

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