Low carbon maritime traffic at ports – carbon dioxide emissions down by 16%

The supply of onshore power was increased at South Harbour, and cargo ships’ awareness of the waste fee system used in the Baltic Sea area was improved with an information package provided directly to vessels.

The carbon dioxide emissions caused by incoming and outgoing vessel traffic in Helsinki’s port area account for approximately 80% of the total annual emissions in the area, which is why reducing them is essential to the Port’s climate goals.

The goal of the Carbon-neutral Port 2035 programme is to reduce vessel emissions by a total of 25% by 2035.

Progress towards this goal is made by means such as building onshore power supply connections at berths, making alternative fuels available at the harbours of Helsinki and implementing an environmental discount programme for vessels.

Less vessel traffic than usual

In 2021, the carbon dioxide emissions of vessels in the port area amounted to 51,625 tonnes, which is 9,891 tonnes (-16%) less than the previous year.

The coronavirus pandemic also had an effect on emission calculations per net tonne, as vessels have spent more time in the port area than usual. On the other hand, the heating and electricity required for the services provided by the vessels has been significantly lower than during normal years.

In terms of vessels’ net tonnage, carbon dioxide emissions in Helsinki’s port areas
amounted to 0.58 tonnes of CO2 per 1,000 NT (-14%).

The supply of onshore power increased

  • The Port of Helsinki has built an onshore power connection for passenger ships at the Olympia Terminal, with the project completed at the turn of 2020 and 2021. The connection was put into practice in August as Stockholm traffic recommenced after a long hiatus. The onshore power investment at South Harbour is estimated to decrease carbon dioxide emissions in the area by 1,700 tonnes annually, even though its first year of use was incomplete.
    Read more about the OSP

Onshore power supply makes it possible to reduce the climate emissions generated while ships are berthed by as much as 50–80% in total, as the ships receive the electricity they need while at berth from land, and there is no need to keep auxiliary engines running. In addition to this, onshore power improves air quality and reduces noise in the city centre.

The supply of power produced on shore will increase the Port of Helsinki’s electricity use. In actuality, this means energy use transferred to the port from the shipping companies’ energy balance. As such, the increasing electricity consumption of the port company is a positive development for the environment, as the onshore power acquired by the port is produced 100% without carbon, and it does not generate noise or emissions like the energy produced by ships’ auxiliary engines.

  • In late June, the Port introduced a new automated mooring system in West Harbour, at the berth used by the Eckerö Line ship MS Finlandia. The system speeds up the mooring and unmooring of vessels, as well as reducing emissions in West Harbour and its surrounds.
    Read more about the automooring system
  • The Port of Helsinki continued its environmental discount programme. A discretionary discount on vessel charges could be granted to liner traffic vessels that have a low environmental impact at port or significantly reduce their environmental impact with development measures. In 2021, the maximum discount percentage was increased from six to seven. Over the course of the year, a total of 237,000 euros was granted as support to 12 vessels.
  • In its accreditation process, the Port of Helsinki agreed with the Estonian company Elenger on practices for a new LNG bunkering vessel in Helsinki.
  • The deepening of the leading fairway of Vuosaari Harbour was completed in November 2021. In the future, the deeper fairway will make it possible for larger vessels to visit the harbour than before. The use of larger vessels makes maritime transport operations more environmentally efficient.Furthermore, the new work methods used in the project decreased its impact on the environment. For example, the rock masses excavated during the work were utilised in area construction in Helsinki, and their transport to the construction site by sea reduced the environmental impact, traffic congestion and costs caused by the transport.The environmental impact of the work was monitored regularly. The impact of the project on the fish stock will continue to be compensated for by stocking 40,000 young whitefish in the area every year until 2023.The impact of the project on the waters was closely monitored throughout the project through turbidity measurements and surveys, aerial and satellite images and water sampling, and the environmental monitoring involved surveying the occurrence of various harmful substances in the sea area.During the project, underwater noise from the dredging and excavation work was also investigated. The report provided important information on the construction impacts of waterway projects for the protection of the Baltic Sea.
    Read more about the fairway deepening

Ship waste

The Port of Helsinki is actively developing its waste management operations. International cruise ships are provided with waste advice services, and possibilities regarding further utilisation of ships’ solid waste types are being charted.

Each of the Port of Helsinki’s quays is equipped to allow for direct discharge of wastewater into the city’s sewer network, from where it is transported directly to HSY for processing. A separate charge is not levied for discharging wastewater in accordance with the No Special Fee system.

Vessels operating in regular liner traffic in Helsinki, such as the RoPax ferries on the Stockholm and Tallinn routes, have signed a waste management agreement directly with the waste management company. The Port of Helsinki provides waste management services mainly to international cruise ships and some cargo vessels.

In 2021, the Port of Helsinki received

  • 129,300 m3 of vessels’ wastewater,
  • 909 m3 of oily water from vessels,
  • 44,000 tonnes of solid waste from vessels.


  • In April, the Port of Helsinki took part in the Baltic Sea Action Group’s info event for providing international cargo ships directly with information about the special conditions of the Baltic Sea and the No Special Fee payment system of Baltic Sea ports.
    Read more about the info event
  • Amendments to the Environmental Protection Act for Maritime Transport entered into force on 1 July 2021. The amendments take the legislative amendments required by the EU’s new ship waste directive ((EU) 2019/883) into account. With the amendments in force, granting discounts on ship waste fees is now obligatory. The Port of Helsinki prepared its own procedures necessitated by the legislative amendments, and its new discounts entered into force on 1 January 2022.