Planning of energy and environmental sustainability of port systems: Guidelines approved

On 17 December 2018 the Italian Ministry of Environment and for the Protection of Land and Sea (Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del MareMATTM”) approved the “Guidelines for the drafting of Energy-Environmental Planning Documents of Port Systems – DEASP” (the “Guidelines”).

In particular, the Guidelines implement the provisions of Article 4-bis of Law No. 84/94, introduced by Legislative Decree No. 169/16.

Said Article 4-bis of Law No. 84/94 provides that the port system planning must respect energy and environmental sustainability criteria. To such end, the Italian Port System Authorities (“AdSP”) will promote the drafting of the Planning Document (DEASP) so as to achieve “adequate objectives, with specific reference to the reduction of CO2 emissions”. 

The Planning Document (DEASP) will be adopted directly by the AdSP, with no need for further approval by other entities, and if necessary must be updated every 3 years.

Said document is formally independent from the general planning of the port system, even though it should make reference to the specialist technical contents of the Port System Regulatory Plans (“PRdSP”).

Through the Planning Document (DEASP), the AdSP will define “strategic directions for the implementation of specific measures”, with the aim of improving energy efficiency and promoting the use of renewable energies over the port area, determining in particular:

  • (i) interventions (i.e.: plants, facilities, structures and works), and measures (i.e.: introduction of emissions standards in the authorizations issued to operators, granting of benefits, application of incentives schemes etc.) to be enacted;
  • (ii) coordination strategies between interventions and environmental measures with the planning of infrastructural interventions in the port system;
  • (iii) adequate energy and environmental measures monitoring interventions made, to understand their efficiency.

In particular, the Guidelines regulate the Planning Document (DEASP) structure, the method for measuring CO2 emissions of the port system, examples of interventions for their reduction, as well as the method to carry out a cost-benefit analysis (“ACB”)[1].

More specifically, the Guidelines establish that the starting point for the drafting of the Planning Document (DEASP) must be the “picture of the current situation” in terms of CO2 emissions of the Port Systems, through the calculation of the carbon footprint.

It should be noted that – for the purposes of drafting the Planning Document (DEASP) – it is envisaged that the AdSP as well as the other players of the system falling within the port context, as defined by the PRdSP, be directly involved, by way of example, considering also passenger, commercial and industrial terminals, as well as commercial and service vessels engaged in mooring operations (on docks or by the sea), among the sources of energy consumption and of CO2 emissions.

In this regard, it would be reasonable to expect AdSP to get in contact with the “system” players mentioned above (first of all, terminal operators), asking them to provide, by way of example, specific information relating to facilities existing in their sites, as well as data on developed power capacity (kW) and on fuel consumption by their own operational means. All the above, in order to be able to process the aforesaid picture of the current situation in terms of CO2 emissions.

Also, in light of the data collected, AdSP – within the determination of emissions reduction targets – may then begin liaising with operators in order to evaluate the possibility to implement interventions/investments aimed at pursuing the above-mentioned “environmentally” relevant targets.

Again, in this framework, a peculiar attention to the environment with a subsequent trend “supporting” eco-friendly operative means could emerge, consistently with the evaluation criteria for concessions applications relating to “sustainability and environmental impact of the project” set out in the circular of the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport of 5 February 2018 (which is extensively analyzed in another article of this Newsletter).

It should also be noted that, according to the Guidelines, intervention proposals – depending on the category of interventions[2]  – are subject to the application of the ACB, which must duly take into account social and environmental aspects.

It should be reminded that the ACB – as specified in the Guidelines – is the instrument recommended for the prior evaluation of economic benefits of public interventions in port areas, in compliance with Legislative Decree No. 228 of 29 December 2011 on the valuation of investments relating to public works.

Interventions described in the Guidelines include interventions encouraging the electrification of consumptions, such as the realization of systems for the provision of shore power to mooring vessels (so-called cold ironing), so as to reduce the need for using the ship engines to produce electricity. Indeed, shore power connection may reduce CO2 emissions by more than 40% thanks to the improvement of the efficiency of production/distribution of electric energy.

By way of example, the Guidelines indicate other possible types of interventions such as the production of energy from renewable sources (e.g.: photovoltaic plants and mini-wind farms) and the improved energy efficiency of buildings and areas within the port area.

To conclude, the Guidelines provide some interesting case-studies – on energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources – that concern several Italian ports and have as their subject-matter, inter alia, cold ironing installations, lift truck prototypes fueled by dual fuel system (diesel and GNL) and modern photovoltaic plants.




This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as a professional opinion. For further information, please contact Valentina Cavanna.




[1]Defined by the Guidelines as “a technique to assess and optimize the variation in economic well-being, deriving from an investment, through the definition and measurement of costs and benefits – including social ones – of a project over a given reference period”. Still according to the Guidelines, social costs and benefits are not only those for the project proposer, but rather those for the community, also from an environmental and social perspective.
[2]In particular, according to the Guidelines, the evaluation procedure is not compulsorily required in case of energy-environmental interventions (other than public works or public utility works), promoted by private operators working in ports, that do not imply public capital contributions but may give access to grants and incentives for energy efficiency and renewable sources. In such a case, port authorities will collect from said operators the information needed to complete the set of energy-environmental data necessary to the Planning Document (DEASP) (avoided CO2). Said interventions are nevertheless inserted in the Planning Document (DEASP) to contribute to the accomplishment of emissions reduction targets within the port area.

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