The European Sea Port Organisation (ESPO) has released its comprehensive Port Investments Study 2024, providing an in-depth analysis of the future investment needs of European ports. Authored by Dr. Peter de Langen, this study outlines a projected requirement of approximately €80 billion over the next decade to meet the evolving demands of the port sector, highlighting significant investment in sustainability and energy transition.

Evolving Investment Needs

The study underscores the shifting landscape of European ports, driven by the need to adapt to new energy sources and the infrastructure they require. As Europe accelerates its transition towards sustainable energy, ports must transform into hubs for new energy commodities. This transformation demands extensive investments in infrastructure to handle, store, and transport these new commodities, and to ensure connectivity both maritime and to the hinterland.

Sustainability and Energy Transition: A Growing Priority

Sustainability and energy transition have emerged as critical investment categories, now ranking second in priority for port authorities. The analysis shows a marked increase in investment share for these categories, rising from less than 10% in 2018 to nearly 25% in 2023. The focus includes infrastructure and services supporting the energy transition, efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of shipping, and improvements in the environmental performance of port operations.

Case Studies: Strategic Investments in Port Infrastructure

Port of Antwerp-Bruges: A prime example of strategic investment is the merger of the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, formalized in April 2022. This unification aims to strengthen their position within the global logistics chain, ensuring financial stability and sustainable growth. The merger facilitates significant projects, such as inter-port connectivity improvements and infrastructure for sustainable energy commodities, positioning the unified port as a future-proof entity ready to meet energy transition challenges.

Port of Raahe: Another notable case is the Port of Raahe in Finland, which is adapting to support the green transition. With substantial potential for offshore wind energy production, Raahe is set to become a hub for the green hydrogen economy. Future investments include a new all-weather terminal and facilities for SSAB’s transition to fossil-free steel production. These developments underscore the port’s role in facilitating the construction and operation of wind energy projects, contributing significantly to Finland’s sustainable energy goals.

Investment Projects and Future Directions

The study highlights that onshore power supply (OPS) is a common investment, with over 70% of ports planning projects in this area. Additionally, many ports are investing in facilities for electricity storage and transport, renewable energy production, and energy management systems. This reflects a broader trend of port managing bodies (PMBs) expanding their service offerings to support sustainable transport and clean energy.

Challenges and Recommendations

To actualize these investment projects, European ports require substantial public funding. The study identifies financing bottlenecks as a critical hurdle and emphasizes the necessity of dedicated funding from EU instruments such as the Connecting Europe Facility, the Innovation Fund, and the Just Transition and Modernisation Funds. Enhanced public funding will enable PMBs to implement projects that create value for both port users and society at large, supporting the transition to sustainable transport and clean energy.


The ESPO Port Investments Study 2024 reveals a robust pipeline of planned investments, amounting to €7-9 billion annually over the next decade. These investments are crucial for transforming European ports into energy transition hubs, ensuring they remain competitive and sustainable. The study’s findings highlight the need for coordinated public funding to overcome financial barriers and realize the ambitious investment plans essential for the future of European ports.

This strategic shift towards sustainability and energy transition represents not just an environmental imperative but also a significant economic opportunity, positioning Europe’s ports as pivotal players in the global energy landscape.

Full report is available on:

Source: European Sea Port Organisation (ESPO)