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AGV auf dem HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder © HHLA / Engel & Gielen

Port of Hamburg: Contribution to energy transition

Container transporters to support grid stability as mobile power storage units

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) and its partners began research and development work on the publicly funded FRESH project at its Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) in early 2019. FRESH stands for flexibility management and control reserve provision of heavy goods vehicles in the harbour. The goal is to integrate the battery capacities of the automated guided container transport vehicles (AGVs) used in CTA into the German energy network as flexible storage units that contribute to the grid stability of the power supply.

Using capacities of batteries

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG and Next Kraftwerke GmbH, one of Europe’s largest virtual power plant operators, are investigating the extent to which industrially used mobile battery capacities can be connected to the German power grid. This would make primary control reserves available for grid stability without impacting terminal operations. Energy sources such as wind or sun are not always available depending on the weather and leads to fluctuations in the power grid which have to be cushioned.

Digitalisation and electrification of logistics industry

By 2022, around 100 AGVs in use at Altenwerder for “transporting containers”: will be completely converted to fast-charging lithium-ion batteries. They could then provide 4 megawatts for the energy market at the 18 electric charging stations. “This is, of course, not their primary purpose – container transport is. But in less busy times, free AGVs could provide battery capacity as mobile power stores to safeguard grid stability,” said Boris Wulff of the CTA Terminal Development department, who is responsible for the FRESH project.


CTA counts among the most modern and efficient handling facilities and is being developed into the world’s first zero-emission terminal. It is also a test field and laboratory for new technical and environment-friendly applications at HHLA. FRESH is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the “IKT for Electromobility III” technology programme and receives subsidies of around EUR 1.4 million.

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