Port of Rotterdam

Port of Rotterdam: €3 bln invested in energy transition projects in 2022

Port of Rotterdam has seen a number of investments in energy transition projects in 2022 worth a total of approximately € 3 billion.

Port of Rotterdam; Image by Offshore Energy

Some of these projects include investments in a major biorefinery and Europe’s largest green-hydrogen plant. To remind, in July 2022 subsidiaries of Shell have taken the final investment decision (FID) to build Holland Hydrogen I, which will be Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen plant once operational in 2025.

The 200 MW electrolyser will be constructed on the Tweede Maasvlakte in the port of Rotterdam and will produce up to 60,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day. The renewable power for the electrolyser will come from the offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust (noord), which is partly owned by Shell. Holland Hydrogen I is expected to be operational in 2025.

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The role played by the Port Authority in the planned projects varies from project to project. However, the port has been particularly important in the development of infrastructure that allows companies to operate more sustainably.

“To minimise delays caused by ongoing procedures relating to nitrogen emissions, a guarantee arrangement has been agreed with the Dutch State for the Porthos CO2 transport and storage project so that financial commitments can be made in advance of the final investment decision. The pipelines for the port’s hydrogen network have now been delivered,” the port authority said.

“The first TenneT substation on the Maasvlakte, where electricity from offshore wind comes to land, is now in operation. Projects and investments of this kind mean that the energy transition is underway across the entire spectrum. All the projects now in progress add up to a potential reduction in carbon emissions close to 30 million tonnes by 2030. This volume represents 40% of the national reduction target.” 

The port authority stressed that there is a need for a margin on nitrogen emissions to be set. As explained, nearly four years after the Council of State put an end to the Dutch Nitrogen Reduction Programme (PAS), it is still unclear how the Netherlands will find a way out of the resulting impasse.

The port added that the industry in Rotterdam is applying the best available technology (BAT), marking a fall in total nitrogen emissions of 60% in the past fifteen years. The industry in Rotterdam accounts for only 1% of nitrogen deposition in Dutch nature areas, according to the port authority.  

“It can therefore make only a limited contribution to the conservation and improvement of those natural areas. At the same time, industry in Rotterdam accounts for approximately 14% of Dutch carbon emissions and it plays a major role in achieving the climate goals. If industry is to implement sustainability projects, it needs some margin in terms of nitrogen emissions, for example for construction activities. In addition, a range of energy transition projects – such as the use of renewable fuels produced in the port and the use of hydrogen (imported and otherwise) – reduce nitrogen emissions outside the port,” the port authority noted.

Annual throughput

The port said that the throughput remained virtually unchanged in 2022 despite the war in Ukraine and the wakening economy standing at 467.4 million tonnes, down by 0.3% when compared to 2021.

However, trade patterns and cargo flows changed. Container throughput fell by 5.5% in TEU (-9.6% in tonnes), mainly because container traffic to and from Russia came to a virtual standstill after the invasion of Ukraine. Imports of LNG, mainly from the USA, increased by 63.9% as an alternative to Russian gas. At the same time, coal imports rose by 17.9% as mainly German coal-fired power plants were used more. In line with the sanctions, companies reduced imports of Russian oil, oil products and coal, and succeeded in importing them from elsewhere.  

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“2022 was an extraordinary year in many ways. The war and the sanctions led to changes in energy flows around the world and high energy prices, and therefore high inflation and the weakening of the economy. The Rotterdam business sector and all service providers were able to respond quickly and effectively. The war has also demonstrated the risks for crucial sectors of strong dependence on one country or a limited number of countries,” Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said.

“In this respect, the war should work as an incentive to make Dutch and European energy and industry more resilient. That will mean accelerating the production of renewable energy and maintaining strategic industries. However, other factors are involved. They include the lack of progress on tackling nitrogen emissions, high energy prices in Europe, and the speed and scale of the efforts of the government of the United States to rack up the sustainability of its industry. They could place the Netherlands and Europe at a disadvantage. We really need to move up a gear in that respect.” 


The current geopolitical situation is a source of major uncertainty and inflation has risen sharply. As far as can be foreseen at present, the economy of the Netherlands and Europe will stagnate in 2023. Throughput volumes are therefore expected to decline slightly. In the energy transition, which is so important for the future of the port and for achieving the national climate goals, the necessary steps forward are again expected in 2023, with the speed of that process being determined in part by how vigorously the Dutch government manages to resolve the issue of nitrogen emissions.