CBS-led partnership on the energy transition and the role of ports as hubs

CBS Maritime and Copenhagen School of Energy Infrastructure (CSEI) are joining forces in a cross-cutting project together with Maritime DTU to investigate the key role of ports in enabling the energy transition at sea and on land.



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Meeting the targets set by the Paris agreement demands all sectors of the economy to rapidly embrace the green transitioning of the worldwide energy systems and develop new, innovative business models and collaborations. The maritime sector has now set the ambition for zero emissions vessels to be a commercial reality by 2030.

"The transition from fossil to green fuels on board our vessels is comparable to the big change sailors and shipping companies faced, when they went from coal to diesel engines. If we are to succeed, it is absolutely crucial that we join forces with the rest of the value chain and therefore, I am really pleased the Danish Maritime Fund has chosen to support this important analysis," says Maria Skipper Schwenn, Executive Director of Security, Environment and Maritime Research at Danish Shipping.

However, recent estimates show that almost 90% of the investments needed for the energy transition at sea will be in land-based infrastructure. On the other hand, the energy sector needs to meet the rapidly increasing global demand for renewable energy by relying on the maritime sector to enable the offshore production and storage and global trade of green electrons and molecules.

Huge challenges ahead

“The energy transition is driven by environmental and climate concerns. It not only requires supply side innovations but also large-scale, concurrent adoption and diffusion in energy intensive sectors such as transport, heavy industry, and the built environment. The challenges are huge, and action is needed now if we are to meet climate and environmental targets in the medium to long run. The challenges are not only of a technological kind, but also include regulatory, governance and business model innovations happening conjointly”, says Henrik Sornn-Friese, the director of CBS Maritime.

The interconnection of the two sectors is most evident in ports, which are expected to develop into energy hubs that will serve in bridging the maritime, energy and interrelated industries. However, this imposes the challenge of how ports can manage and facilitate the transition, which must occur almost simultaneously globally, and do it as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

“The energy sector policies are looking to increase integration of different energy vectors and sectors. Shipping has a special status in this viewpoint as it is both a major part of the energy supply chain and at the same a significant energy user. Moreover, some emerging future designs for offshore renewables and hydrogen production and usage are based around new concepts of industrial clusters. Ports as part of industrial infrastructure can play an important role as facilitator and host to future clusters around, for example, Power-to-X,” says Tooraj Jamasb, director of CSEI.

In order to meet these challenges, there is a need for large-scale coordinated research that can be enacted as national strategies in an increasing number of countries and regions. In addition, the maritime and energy sectors will demand talent equipped with interdisciplinary skills and the ability to bridge industries and countries at a pace that has never been so demanding.

Ports as hubs

The project Accelerating the Energy Transition at Sea and on Land: Ports as Hubs” has been developed to address all of the above challenges. The project has now secured a grant from the Danish Maritime Fund and will run initially for one year, starting in October 2021. The project is expected to initiate a series of further collaborations and position CBS at the forefront of the energy transition.

“We are happy and satisfied with the Danish Maritime Fund’s grant to accelerate the energy transition at sea and on land with a focus on ‘Ports as Hubs’. In Danish Ports we have for a long time considered Denmark’s ports as energy hubs. Along with another branch organization, Danish Energy, we recently launched our brand-new report ‘A green port strategy to Power-to-X’ in which we among other things describe our ports as energy hubs. So ‘Ports as Hubs’ particularly in the areas of energy and green transition is top of mind within Danish Ports,” says Susanne Isaksen, Deputy Director at Danish Ports.

The project aims to establish a research consortium with Danish, European and international university partners, industry stakeholders, member associations, relevant authorities and other actors that is expected to achieve a number of interconnected objectives.

The first main deliverable of the project is a feasibility study addressing all major pillars (social inclusion and acceptance, economic cost-benefit, technical feasibility, business and financial models, and regulation). The study will serve as a foundation for identifying major knowledge gaps, bottlenecks and opportunities within the energy transition and the key role of ports as hubs. Furthermore, the study will foster the creation of an interdisciplinary educational framework that could be incorporated in current and future courses at bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The second main deliverable is to develop and secure funding for an international PhD education network carried out in close cooperation with industry and covering the major international maritime and energy hubs in Asia, Europe, and North America.

”The energy transition and the sector coupling between energy and maritime will require new and different competencies in the future. There will be an increased need for interdisciplinary and systemic skills to meet the climate and environmental targets across sectors. The challenges are widespread and multifaceted and therefore it is important to define and develop bridging competencies across industries and to meet the fast-changing challenges and opportunities we face,” says Mette Sanne Hansen, Head of Maritime DTU.

“We believe that with this project, we will be providing a specifically maritime-focused capacity in supplement to the Danish Government’s approaching innomission partnership on ‘Green fuels for transport and industry’,” concludes Henrik Sornn-Friese.


The project is funded by The Danish Maritime Fund and will be hosted in collaboration between CBS’ Department of Strategy and Innovation and the Department of Economics. The project is supported by the branch associations Danish Shipping and Danish Ports.


For further information, please contact:

Petar Sofev, CBS Maritime, mobile: +45 7181 7357

Philipp A. Ostrowicz, Copenhagen School of Energy Infrastructure (CSEI), mobile: +45 4185 2031

Read more about CSEI 

Read more about CBS Maritime


The page was last edited by: Sekretariat for Ledelse og Kommunikation // 07/11/2023