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Ports rising to the sustainability challenge

Identifying improvement in environmental and energy efficiency as one of the factors that contribute to ports’ competitiveness. This is the main objective that the Port Network Authority has set itself with the Energy and Environmental Planning Document presented recently in an online event organized at Palazzo Rosciano, the Port Authority’s headquarters.

An inventory of energy consumption in terms of Co2 equivalents produced by the Network’s ports was presented in front of an audience of about 40 participants, consisting of institutional representatives and port operators.

There are over 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted each year in the port areas, 90% of which in Livorno, the multipurpose port of call that, due to its size and traffic volumes, is naturally the Network’s main port of call.

Confirming the studies carried out previously by the Port Network Authority , which – since 2010, with the Climeport project, had investigated the issue in depth, it also emerged that shipping is responsible for the greatest contribution to emissions: almost 90% of CO2 equivalents comes from ships during maneuvers and while berthed at the quayside.

As far as goods movement operations on land are concerned, diesel fuel is still the most widely used form of energy.

“In light of the current picture of CO2 emissions from our ports, it is now possible both to set emission reduction targets in line with national targets, monitoring their progress over time, and to identify specific targets for each Network port, defining infrastructural measures and incentives for improving the energy-environmental management of port activities” said the Port Network Authority manager in charge of the Energy and Environmental Planning Document, Claudio Vanni, pointing out how the provisions in the Port Masterplans in force already aim at “improving the energy efficiency of transport and port operations, for example by transporting goods as much as possible by rail.”

Increasing electricity consumption, possibly using locally generated power from renewable sources, could also improve the performance of the ports overseen by the North Tyrrhenian Port Network Authority

The meeting on June 30th provided the opportunity to share what went into the preparation of the Energy and Environmental Planning Document with the port community. Participants were in fact able to take part in an interesting debate both on strategies (is it possible to imagine a long-term carbon neutral port system?) and on projects (how much electricity could be produced by installing photovoltaic panels on all the roofs of existing buildings in the port?). Moreover, an online voting system specifically designed for the event allowed organizers to rank participants’ preferences regarding the proposals put forward.

The Port Network Authority’s commitment is therefore now to carry out in-depth research and feasibility studies to adapt port electricity networks to future consumption needs, especially in Piombino and Livorno, and to evaluate the possibility of supplying electricity to ferries berthed at night in Portoferraio. The electricity infrastructure thus redesigned could also make it possible to exploit innovative management methods recently introduced by European and national regulations, such as purchasing consortiums, closed distribution systems and energy communities.

“We’re not inventing anything new” – concluded Mr. Vanni – “What we want to do in the port is to allow the supply of cheap and clean electricity, i.e. produced by renewable sources.”