The future of cleaner shipping

Shaping policy

In 2015, the Maritime Platform was commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Transport to provide input for the topic of LNG in the maritime industry as part of the mobility and fuel strategy of the Federal Government and for the national report on the implementation of the EU directive "Clean Power for Transport". This is a success, but at the same time, it is also a great responsibility, given that the platform, as a cross-sectoral initiative of politics, was intended to provide a basis for decisions on essential measures that will significantly shape the market launch of LNG in Germany. For example, the funding guideline for new builds and conversions of ships was adopted on the initiative of the platform.

As a member of the ESSF (European Sustainable Shipping Forum), the platform is also active in Brussels. At Commission level, LNG has been on the agenda for many years and is being actively promoted. The aim here is, above all, to prevent a national "patchwork quilt". The platform sees an essential task in organising the transfer of know-how to Germany and to politics.

The platform

The MARITIME PLATFORM, based in Hamburg and Berlin, was founded in February 2014 as the Maritime LNG Platform and now represents an association of around 100 national and international companies, ports, associations and initiatives. The platform has set itself the goal of achieving a significant reduction in emissions such as SOx, NOx, CO2 and particulate matter through the use of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas), and thus to achieve cleaner, as well as more economical, maritime and inland waterway transport. In addition, however, climate protection continues to play an increasingly important role. Not only because of the ambitious IMO climate targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2008, but also because of technical developments (ethanol, battery, hydrogen), the pure focus on LNG is too narrow for the platform's claim to help shape the future of shipping. LNG will remain "the" driver for more environmentally-friendly (and climate-friendly) shipping and will see the role it plays strengthened; however, this will apply less so to fossil-based LNG as part of a gradual approach, which will initially involve its blending and, ultimately, complete replacement with so-called synthetic LNG, which is also referred to as E-fuel.

There are still major challenges in terms of infrastructure, industrial development and the creation of a political framework, which the platform should definitely address. With the hydrogen strategy being pursued by the Federal Government, only a first hurdle has been passed. Now the impetus from industry is once again needed to help ensure success. Hamburg, in particular, as the seat of the platform, will develop into "the" hydrogen location. Here, the platform can and will be able to provide valuable impulses. Similar to the start of the LNG debate in 2014, the platform will act as a partner and point of contact for politics and industry to provide stimulating input for the maritime economy.

Furthermore, the platform is committed to the promotion of water-side, LNG-based power supply for cargo and cruise ships and, starting in port cities, the implementation of sustainable energy and mobility concepts with LNG use in water and land transport. Especially in port cities, particulate matter pollution from shipping – one of the most frequent causes of death according to the WHO – is an issue among many that remains unsolved. This significantly reduces particulate matter pollution through electricity generation based on LNG instead of diesel.

The platform's approach is multinational and cross-competitive and bundles existing know-how, for example from other European countries such as Norway, Sweden or the Netherlands.

The Initiative

The MARITIME LNG PLATTFORM e.V., the German national LNG initiative, is an interest coalition of more than 80 national and international industrial and shipping companies, port authorities and initiatives aimed at creating a cleaner and more sustainable shipping sector through the use of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and the significant reduction of emissions, such as SOx, NOx, CO2 and particulate matter (PM). The MARITIME LNG PLATTFORM e. V is focused on providing information and research and is committed to the establishment of framework conditions that enable a timely introduction of LNG to the market. At the same time, the platform focuses on the interface with road transport.

In addition, the objectives of the platform include the promotion of water-side LNG-based power supply for freight ships and cruise liners as well as sustainable energy and mobility concepts centred on the use of LNG for water and land transport in port cities. According to the WHO, fine dust particles are the main reason for emission-related deaths worldwide – and shipping is a major factor in producing emissions in coastal regions. LNG is an eco-friendly alternative for shipping and massively reduces fine dust particles pollution as compared to petroleum-based fuels.

Based on the Dutch model ( and in co-operation with the Dutch platform, the MARTIME LNG PLATTFORM (with offices in Hamburg and Berlin) pushes for the market introduction of LNG as an environmentally-friendly fuel in Germany and beyond. One of its key objectives is bringing together  relevant national and international expertise as well as representing LNG related interests of the maritime sector in the political sphere both at national and EU level: the cornerstones of our work involve pro-active public affairs and PR work and highly targeted special events providing information and research and presenting innovative solutions in co-operation with existing initiatives and in dialogue with decision-makers in Berlin and Brussels.

Shaping Policy

In January 2015, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure asked the platform to provide politicians with a forward strategy for LNG in Germany as a basis for future decisions and as part of the Federal Government´s Mobility and Fuel Strategy and the implementation of the EU Directive “Clean Power for Transport”.

The platform is also a member of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) which makes a key contribution to the establishment of uniform standards: this primarily involves a transfer of expertise to smaller ports as generally only representatives of bigger German ports attend the meetings of the ESSF. The Platform´s international partners and members are also actively involved.


  • Implementation of uniform standards, based on international best practice
  • Standardisation and swift introduction of an internationally recognised approval process in German sea and inland ports, also based on the best international practice
  • Improving the framework conditions of LNG-generated power supply of ships
  • Clear standards for establishing LNG infrastructure: political decision-makers and relevant public authorities should  define clear  standards to enable the development of an LNG infrastructure without investment barriers
  • The public sector as “First Mover”: the public sector at all levels uses more than 700 ships and can fulfil an important role as “first mover” by changing procurement conditions accordingly
  • Extending education and training: training and further education activities for ships´ crews, port employees and terminal staff enable a professional and qualified work environment for the use of LNG
  • Extension of the SECA zone to the Mediterranean Sea to allow for a level-playing field for all European shipping companies
  • Increase of the acceptance of LNG among the public and relevant trade audiences – whilst reducing unfounded prejudices and fears
  • Widening the debate about the sustainability of goods and their logistics chains


The platform's activities are guided by a specific roadmap:

  • In 5 years - the operation of at least 50 ships in German ports using LNG
  • In 5 years - at least 5 ports in Germany that supply LNG to the shipping sector
  • In 3 years – sea-based LNG power supply during port stays of at least 250 ships per annum
  • The specific and measurable reduction of SOx, NOx, CO2 and particulate matter as a result of above measures


  • Exerting influence on national and European decision-makers to establish financing opportunities for the modification and construction of ships with LNG engines via the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, the European Investment Bank and new funding programs (public funding).
  • Exerting influence on ports and federal states to establish the requirements for LNG infrastructure on land in order to support the reduction of emissions through the use of LNG in a sustainable energy and mobility concept.
  • Influencing the identification of legislative deficits with the aim of improvement.
  • The removal of bureaucratic and regulatory barriers in authorization processes.
  • The application of the highest safety standards.
  • In addition to the North Sea and Baltic Sea - the establishment of further SECA regions (Sulfur Emission Control Areas) to tighten the limit values and to promote cleaner maritime routes, especially in the Mediterranean Sea.

Breaking through the chicken and the egg principle

Firstly, there is a need for a comprehensive supply of bunkering options in the ports, which are not currently available. However, an application for the establishment of an LNG terminal has been submitted in Hamburg and more are being planned. These will only become viable once a sufficient number of ships have been converted to LNG and new LNG-based ships have been constructed. Secondly, investment in LNG requires the presence of the corresponding infrastructure for shipping. A key task of MARITIME LNG PLATFORM E.V. is to work towards breaking through this "chicken and the egg principle" in German and European ports.

The reduced maintenance costs and the lower fuel consumption more than compensate for the 10% higher purchase price. There is no additional reduction in freight capacity thanks to the installation of the fuel tank in the hull.

Alternatives to LNG, such as LPG, which would be more expensive and is only held in smaller quantities, CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), which requires twice the volume of LNG, and bio-fuels, which require a higher technical and economic cost and which are problematic with regard to instability, are much more complicated to implement than the conversion of ships to LNG fuel.