Study identifies eight most promising green corridor routes in and out of Spain

A new study from the Global Maritime Forum finds Spain is well positioned to become a first mover in shipping’s decarbonisation by developing green shipping corridors from Spanish ports to Europe and beyond.

June 21 2023

Green shipping corridors – specific routes between major port hubs where the feasibility of zero-emission shipping is catalysed by a combination of public and private actions – are essential for shipping’s race to zero. The study, ‘Green shipping corridors in and out of Spain: Assessing route-based opportunities’, by the Global Maritime Forum aims to put Spain on the map of green shipping corridors by identifying international routes with high potential and facilitating stakeholder dialogue.

Overall, the study highlighted the eight most promising green corridor routes in and out of Spain. Based on the scale of trade, energy demand, dominant trade segments and policy environment, the analysis showed that the United Kingdom, Italy, and the United States are the most promising partner countries for Spain for the development of green corridors, followed by Turkey, Morocco, and China.

Findings indicate that there are various deep-sea opportunities in the container segment, such as container trade between China and the ports of Barcelona and Valencia and between US East Coast ports and Valencia and Algeciras. Short sea opportunities within Europe were also identified, such as container traffic between the ports of Bilbao and Liverpool, container traffic between Valencia and Turkey and general cargo traffic between Valencia and Italy. Finally, two promising cruise routes were identified, Mediterranean cruise with Barcelona as home port and the Atlantic Spain-UK cruise route.

Several building blocks need to be in place to establish a green corridor, including a viable fuel pathway, customer demand for green shipping, enabling policy and regulation, and cross-value chain collaboration. Findings of the study demonstrate high levels of interest and varying degrees of activity around zero-emission fuels among Spanish ports, as well as favourable conditions for potential bunkering of hydrogen-based zero-emission fuels across the country’s major ports. On the industry side, potential demand for decarbonised freight and the presence of strong companies throughout the international shipping value chain further strengthen the case to advance green corridors in and out of Spain.

Within shipping, the results point to opportunities in the container, roll-on/roll-off, and cruise segments. Targeting routes with cargo owners within food and beverage, car manufacturing, and textile sectors is recommended due to large volumes, high-value trade, and balanced trade flows within these sectors. On the policy side, Spain has a robust regulatory framework in place that provides a good platform for policy action on zero-emission shipping fuels.

Provided stakeholders active on the routes are interested in pursuing the identified opportunities, a next step could be undertaking corridor-specific feasibility studies that place emphasis on the infrastructure, policy, and financial needs and conditions for securing local fuel supply from within Spain. Moving forward, relevant policymakers, such as the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, should be involved in the process of developing the corridors’ implementation plans, as national, bilateral, and regional policy measures will be key to the success of the corridors.

The study builds on the results of the preliminary report conducted by the Global Maritime Forum and the Energy Transitions Commission in collaboration with the British Embassy in Madrid. To identify the most promising green corridor routes, the Global Maritime Forum, with the support of the British Embassy in Madrid, organised workshops and conducted surveys to gather input from Spanish stakeholders and industry leaders. The route prioritisation process was based on the evaluation of their relative impact and feasibility. The underlying logic of the assessment was that decarbonising a route should significantly contribute to the overall decarbonisation of global shipping while still being comparatively feasible from an implementation standpoint and within a reasonable timeframe.

The United Kingdom is firmly committed to the decarbonisation of the maritime sector, and an example of this is the creation of UKShore, the first office purely dedicated to making maritime greener by pioneering new research and development of technology.

“The identification of these green routes offers opportunities to stimulate the growth of new value chains in Spain and the UK, including new zero-emission shipping technologies and services. The publication of this report is a first step that will follow public and private institutions to work together to develop these routes,” says Francisco Álvarez, Public Policy Attaché at the British Embassy.

“Studies like this showcase that the industry is taking concrete steps towards achieving shipping’s full decarbonisation. While working on this study, we encountered an impressive enthusiasm and deep understanding of the potential of green corridors across Spanish stakeholder groups. This is a rapid advancement from just over a year ago when our previous report, Green Corridors: The Spanish Opportunity, was published,” says Jesse Fahnestock Project Director at the Global Maritime Forum.

“The development of green and digital shipping corridors is a priority for the Port of Bilbao, and fits the port’s growing portfolio of sustainability initiatives. The decarbonisation of the routes such as the ones featured in the report will have a great impact due to the volume of freight and passengers they carry and the huge potential that exists in moving from road to sea. For these reasons, we believe in the viability of decarbonising these shipping routes,” says Andima Ormaetxe, Director of Operations, Commerce and Logistics at the Port Authority of Bilbao. 

Access the full report here.

For questions or further information, please reach out to the Global Maritime Forum’s Head of Communications, Rasmus Nord Jørgensen, at

The Global Maritime Forum is an international not-for-profit organisation committed to shaping the future of global seaborne trade to increase sustainable long-term economic development and human wellbeing.

The British Embassy in Madrid maintains and develops relations between the UK and Spain. Find out more on

The Port of Bilbao’s mission is to drive economic growth while fostering a greener future. Located on the vibrant Atlantic Arc, the Port of Bilbao stands proudly as a core port, spearheading sustainability development and intermodal services. With its strategic position, the port serves as a vital gateway for international trade, connecting Europe with the Americas and beyond.

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