Port of Trieste: analysis of the level of environmental energy sustainability

Technological innovation as the main tool to strengthen the competitiveness of ports


During 2018, Polo Tecnologico per l’Energia carried out an analysis of the level of environmental energy sustainability of the Port of Trieste with the aim of identifying energy efficiency interventions aimed at raising the level compared to the current state.

Starting from the analysis of the current state of the Port of Trieste, through the collection of characteristic data of the production and service plants and data relating to current energy consumption, the main centers of energy consumption and cost were identified. Problems of different nature that impact the performance of the Port of Trieste were identified through process mapping and identification of needs and challenges, resulting in the S.W.O.T. analysis being developed. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Finally, the possible technical and management interventions were defined to bring benefits in terms of energy and economic savings for the Eastern Adriatic Sea Port System Authority (AdSPMAO) and the entities operating within the port area.

Located in the heart of Europe, at the meeting point between the European, Adriatic-Baltic and Mediterranean maritime routes and corridors, the Port of Trieste is an international hub for land-sea trade flows that affect the dynamic market of Central and Eastern Europe.

In 2017 it was the first port in Italy and 11th port in Europe for total tonnage handled, first port in Italy for rail traffic and first oil port in the Mediterranean.

Overall, the Port of Trieste offers:


• 2.3 million m2 of port areas of which approximately 1.8 million m2 of free zones;

• 925,000 m2 of storage areas of which approximately 500,000 m2 are covered;

• 12 km of docks;

• 58 operational berths;

• seabeds up to 18 meters deep;

• 70 km of internal railway network with 200 trains per week.


The port system has a series of very different activities, linked to the type of service performed, with distinct terminals intended for passengers, logistical-commercial and shipbuilding-industrial activities.

Each complex of activities needs energy, mainly in the form of electricity, with some particularly energy-intensive uses, which therefore require an accurate forecast of needs (short and medium term) and, therefore, also of the plant infrastructures inside the port and of those of the national distribution network.

It follows that technological innovation is configured as the main tool for strengthening the competitiveness of ports to increase their attractiveness. AdSPMAO is defining some lines of action capable of attracting new investments for the territory, identifying and experimenting models to facilitate high-tech settlements by international companies interested in innovation, for example in the manufacturing, shipbuilding, logistics and the so-called “circular economy” based on the reuse of waste (for example in the energy sector), in a framework specifically oriented towards the sustainability of production activities, in coherence with the policies promoted by the current European directives on the matter.

The efficient management of ports on an energy-environmental level can allow the pursuit of important results in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, given the wide margins for possible improvement. In particular, the port of Trieste, despite the important interventions carried out, still shows a significant potential for improving the level of energy efficiency achievable through the following main actions:


• reorganization of the electricity network architecture with a distribution infrastructure (architectural efficiency) and production of renewable energy for self-consumption combined with storage systems;

• carrying out energy efficiency interventions starting from the energy diagnosis of buildings and systems, the subsequent execution of efficiency interventions including the redevelopment of port lighting and the development of electric mobility;

• improving operating efficiency with the support of the supervision system;

• incentive actions aimed at all port operators for the reduction of energy consumption and the production of renewable energy.


The electrification of the docks (cold ironing) represents only one of the elements, probably the most effective, but also the most complex and it cannot constitute the only solution to the problem of energy and environmental efficiency and sustainability, but it could be at this stage at the center of initial experiments, for example in the local maritime mobility sector.

Regarding the use of alternative fuelswith low environmental impact, AdSPMAO hopes for the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in terms of small distributed bunkering plants, with the aim of achieving a significant reduction in emissions and impacts on the environment along the entire logistics chain.

AdSPMAO aims to launch shared and synergistic actions involving the Port, institutions, territory, active citizenship, universities and research centres, aimed at the sustainable development of port areas.

The port of Trieste has vast areas that can be the subject of interventions to reduce energy waste and the construction of plants for the production of energy from renewable sources for the benefit, mainly, of the consumption of the same companies that operate in the port.

AdSPMAO will therefore have to identify and adopt the tools necessary for the implementation of concrete intervention actions for a regulation of future interventions that can be implemented in the area, also by private operators. At the same time, private port operators will have to be provided with a concrete tool and the surrounding information necessary to seize significant investment opportunities capable of generating economic returns both in the form of savings and new revenues.