Cagliari set for alternative energy role

The Port of Cagliari, Sardinia
The Port of Cagliari, Sardinia. Port of Cagliari,
Massimo Deiana
Massimo Deiana, chairman of the Port Network Authority of the Sardinian Sea . Credit: Port Network Authority of the Sardinian Sea

Sardinia is set to become an LNG hub. Massimo Deiana, chairman of the Sardinian Port Authority System, explains what this means for Cagliari and the island’s other cruise ports

The port network authority encompasses seven ports on the Italian island, five of which accept cruise traffic. Mr Deiana says that Sardinia is in a strategic position for the supply for LNG. “We are in the middle of the Mediterranean, so we are close to the main Asia-Europe trade route, and we are working to attract more deep-sea commercial maritime traffic as well as cruise and short-sea shipping,” he says.

On the south coast, a few hours’ cruising from either the Italian mainland or Spain, Cagliari is likely to be of considerable interest to companies operating the new generation of LNG-ready cruise vessels once it has developed the bunkering infrastructure to supply LNG. A major project is underway in the commercial port at Cagliari, says Mr Deiana. The large port is divided into two parts, one of them dedicated to tourism and the other to commercial traffic. It is in the latter part of the port that Cagliari is engaged in a project to offer pipe, track and ship-to-ship LNG refuelling.

Project help vital

For its maritime LNG programme, Sardinia is working with several companies including HiGas, Isgas and Edison. Due to a lack of local resources for expensive initiatives such as this, Mr Deiana says that it is essential that companies are able to go beyond simply proposing projects; the ability to fund and build is often critical. For this reason, “it’s very important to work with the stakeholder,” he says.

In addition to its location in the Mediterranean, Sardinia offers other attractive aspects to would-be investors in LNG infrastructure for sustainable cruise operations, says Mr Deiana. “We have a lot of space to install the LNG supply."

While the supply of LNG to visiting cruise ships is still a future focus for Cagliari and the other cruise ports of Sardinia, alternative energy sources are making an appearance in other aspects of the port’s activities. There is a programme to provide electric hire vehicles for tourists in port, which is already reducing emissions at the cruise terminals. “The provision of electrical cars for cruise passengers to rent is a very important facility that we organise for them,” Mr Deiana explains.

Sustainable tourism

Promotion of sustainable cruise tourism is another area of investment for Cagliari. “We worked on Itinera – a new European project – with the Chamber of Commerce of Cagliari and Sardinian Region Government,” says Mr Deiana. “The project focus is to organise sustainable tours for small, luxury cruises such as Silversea and Ponant. Silversea tested an environmental tour in the centre of Sardinia, two and a half hours from Cagliari, and they told us it was very good for passengers. They will take this tour next year.”

Regarding the bigger picture of ensuring sustainability in Sardinia’s ports, recent changes to Italian law, which came into force in 2016, have added to the complexity of measures to meet environmental targets, says Mr Deiana. “The new law provides that all ports in a region are under one authority – and every one of those ports must have an environmental plan. So it’s necessary by law to write a new energy plan for LNG, for electric cars, and so on.” Close partnerships are the key to achieving results despite the administrative burden, he says: “The Port of Cagliari is working very closely with the Sardinian Region Government.”

Despite the complexities of the stakeholder dynamics, Mr Deiana says that Cagliari and the other Sardinian ports continue to aim for better communication and cooperation on
sustainability goals for cruise. “We are working with the people that work for the Sardinian Region Government, for the Mayor and for the cruise terminal, Cagliari Cruise Port. The results are arriving; in our mentality there is an idea of a team.”

The extensive LNG project underway in Sardinia includes Porto Torres in the north, Oristano on the west coast, serving routes to Spain, and Cagliari in the south. “The project is a work in progress,” he says. “Oristano will be ready to supply LNG by 2020, including cruise; Cagliari probably in 2021, for postpanamax and other big vessels, including cruise.”

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