In the following interview the new managing director of the HPA Friedrich Stuhrmann is talking about targets and visions of the Hamburg harbour.
Renewable Energy Hamburg: Hello Mr. Stuhrmann, you have been Managing Director of the Hamburg Port Authority for a few months now, a very important role at the port of Hamburg. Congratulations! What are your main aims?
Friedrich Stuhrmann: "Many thanks for your well wishes: The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) indeed has an important function in the active future direction of the port of Hamburg. At the same time, the HPA can successfully further develop the port, especially together with policymakers, the port industry, customers and other national and international partners. Therefore, one of my goals is that we in Hamburg pull together to become even more aware of the importance of the port for the city and its people and to make this clear. The port is the economic and also emotional heartbeat of Hamburg. The port provides over 600,000 jobs across Germany, ensures added value of over 50 billion euros and generates over 1.5 billion euros for the Metropolitan Region of Hamburg alone. This port is also indispensable for the German economy. Without this port, we would not be able to maintain our logistics chains in such a resilient and reliable manner. That is extremely important for us as both an exporting and importing nation and also ensures that we remain independent. Another goal is to strengthen the competitive position of the port of Hamburg. Our competitors do not sleep and are very keen to take some of Hamburg’s market share. We need to find answers for this and, above all, take action to strengthen the competitive position of the port as a whole."
Renewable Energy Hamburg: The port of Hamburg is facing big economic and technical challenges. Which ones would you highlight in particular and why?
Friedrich Stuhrmann: "We need to make the port fit for the future. That means we need to align it with current and future ship size development. To do this, we must support the terminals in the best possible way to further increase their performance. The port does not just consist of handling and logistics, but also production, industry and other value chains. The port and Hamburg need suitable space to provide development opportunities for existing businesses while attracting new emerging industries to the port.
I also consider the energy and transport transition to be a major and hugely important challenge. As Europe’s largest railway port, we in Hamburg are very well positioned for a transport transition and we are in the forefront. In Hamburg, around 50% of containers are transported to the hinterland by rail. In comparison, this is just 7% in Antwerp and 14% in Rotterdam. However, we must not rest on our laurels, but consistently build on our strength. Rail as a mode of transport also plays an important role in the energy transition: it can already be operated with 100% renewable energy today and is thus very environmentally friendly.
The energy transition also means changes in the flow of goods for the port, to which we must adapt the infrastructure in good time. It is well known that infrastructure projects in Germany require considerable planning and approval processes. On one hand, fossil fuels are being imported through Hamburg less. On the other hand, we want to actively use the opportunities of the energy transition in Hamburg."
Renewable Energy Hamburg: At the port of Hamburg, the necessary infrastructure for the emerging hydrogen economy is currently being created. What are the biggest challenges here?
Friedrich Stuhrmann: "At the port of Hamburg, we want to contribute to establishing the entire hydrogen value chain: Manufacturing and import, consumption in industry and transport applications, as well as further processing in other fuels. There are currently no self-sustaining business models for green hydrogen. Producers, consumers and transporters are still dependent on public support. Hydrogen is also to be imported through the port of Hamburg. But it is still unknown when, in what quantities and in what form this will be – liquid, gaseous, or bound in other substances are all possibilities. Therefore, committing to a specific infrastructure is another challenge."