EU approves €570m scheme to cut emissions in Italy’s ports

17 Jun 2024

Image: © Александр Ольшенецки/

The Italian scheme aims to reduce the cost of shore-side electricity to stop ships from producing their own on-board electricity with fossil fuels.

The European Commission has approved a €570m Italian scheme to reduce emissions in the country’s ports by incentivising ships to use shore-side electricity.

The scheme – approved under EU state aid rules – will incentivise ship operators to connect to electricity infrastructure when at berth (moored at an allotted place) in maritime ports when powering their on-board services, systems and equipment. The funding will be used to provide a reduction of up to 100pc of the ‘general system charges’ that exist in electricity prices.

The commission said this reduction will result in a lower electricity price for ship operators when purchasing shore-side electricity, which will allow this form of electricity to compete with the cost of producing electricity on ships through fossil-fuelled engines.

By incentivising ships to use the more environmentally friendly option of local electricity supply, the scheme aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutants and noise emissions at Italy’s ports. The scheme will run until 31 December 2033.

“This €570m Italian scheme will incentivise ship operators to use shore-side electricity rather than electricity produced on board from fossil fuels,” said European commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager. “With this measure, Italy will contribute to the ambitious EU target of reducing transport emissions by at least 90pc by 2050 while ensuring competition is not distorted.”

The commission said it assessed the scheme under EU state aid rules and found that the scheme is “necessary and appropriate”, while any negative effect on competition and trade in the EU is expected to be limited.

Italy has committed to create an annual monitoring mechanism that will verify the difference between the cost of purchasing shore-side electricity and the cost of self-generating electricity on the ship. It will also adjust the level of the aid based on these monitoring results.

Earlier this year, the commission recommended that the EU aims for a 90pc net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 to be able to meet its target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

But the independent Climate Action Tracker criticised this plan for its heavy reliance on carbon capture and storage and said that it “continues dependency on fossil fuel and is absolutely not needed in the power sector”.

“The role of carbon capture is to support climate crisis mitigation through a targeted use, not to turn a problem into a commodity,” said Riccardo Nigro, a senior policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau, at the time.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic