Green mobility: the ecological transition in ports

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The ecological transition is one of the most urgent international prerogatives and it is a goal that must necessarily be achieved in order to reduce pollution levels and slowdown climate change.

Most human activities cause significant environmental damage and the port system, from this point of view, is no exception. There are two of the biggest problems related to this sector. First of all, although it is the center of activities related to the maritime economy of Italy, and an essential tool for trade and the circulation of goods and people, the maritime transport system generates a high share of gas emissions. Secondly, there is the cumbersome presence of ports, which, often placed in densely, populated contexts, generate problems such as: pollution produced by boats and ships stationary on the quay, noise and vibrations produced by the activities in the port area and by the movement of goods.

The key words to highlight in this perspective of ecological transition, also necessary at the port level, are:

  • Cold ironing;
  • Decarbonization of maritime transport;
  • “Green” corridors;
  • Electrification of maritime transport.


The technologies that can currently already be used for the decarbonization of maritime transport are:

  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) : through the implementation of the use of LNG engines which are based on a useful technology to mitigate part of the polluting emissions both during the stop in the port and during navigation;
  • Batteries and electrification of ferries: the use of batteries to power the electric motors of ships is still at the beginning, but there are great technological expectations. The electrification of ferries is already a reality which however involves a very small number of ferries and which only allows short-distance journeys;
  • Hydrogen: the positive aspect of hydrogen is its characteristic as a fuel that does not produce polluting emissions at the time of use. Its downside, however, is its production. Most hydrogen is now produced through an intensive industrial process. The hope, therefore, is to implement green hydrogen production;
  • Ammonia: one of the fuels with the lowest emissions which however has a high rate of toxicity that requires careful management;
  • Cold ironing: it is a particularly valid technological solution to reduce polluting emissions from boats in port.


Cold ironing is a solution that allows, through a set of verified technologies, to supply energy to boats during their stop in port, through an electrical connection to the mainland. This system consists in connecting the ship to the dock by an electric cable in order to provide the boat with the necessary electricity and allow the onboard motors to stop. In this way, the loading / unloading operations of the ship can continue and all passenger services can be maintained, despite the unit being moored with the engines off.

The progressive use of cold ironing technology is an important step to get to the electrification of the docks. Improving air quality and reducing noise pollution are positive effects of cold ironing that not only affect the port but also the surrounding urban port areas that affect citizens.


The fundamental component for the supply of the cold ironing service is the ground infrastructure and the key elements of this technology are:

  • Main substation: connecting the port to the national electricity grid;
  • Frequency converter: to offer frequency levels of 50 or 60 Hz;
  • Transformer: to adapt the voltage to the power needs of different boats;
  • Connection and interface equipment: flexible for the different ships to be served, allowing the transmission of electricity from shore to the ship.


The Getra Group has always been attentive to environmental sustainability and smart mobility issues. Starting from the report drawn up by Enel X and Legambiente, which emphasizes the need to promote the ecological and technological transition, emerges the need to invest in rethinking the port system.

Development passes through the port”, says Marco Zigon, president of Getra and the Matching Energies Foundation, who considers the port of Naples as an important starting point for redesigning the destiny of the metropolitan area using the resources of the PNRR and supporting a more connected and sustainable. “I believe that the port of Naples offers a significant example of the challenge that awaits us. It is one of the most important in Europe, occupies about a third of the city’s coastline, and is one of the main economic assets of the region. For companies in the South, in particular for those operating in global markets, its logistics system is an unavoidable factor in consolidating competitiveness as well as an asset of the territory in terms of its ability to attract new investments”, explains Marco Zigon.

The suggestion is to start investing in the use of green technologies such as cold ironing. Being able to develop and implement projects concerning the port system in a short time is necessary in view of the funds of the NRP, which rewards research aimed at ecological transition and environmental mobility. Naples and Campania have numerous universities and research centers on their territory that have all the qualities to develop projects also with shipping companies with the aim of reducing engine emissions in ports.

The Getra Group does not exclude the possibility of engaging in the creation of equipment useful for activating and using cold ironing technology and stands alongside those who support the ecological transition.

(Source: Report prepared by Enel X and Legambiente)

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