Infrastructures and Sustainability

Against the backdrop of the European Green Deal and the subsequent ‘Fit for 55’ Package, the basic infrastructures will have to become more sustainable over the course of their entire lifecycles, i.e., from design to building, maintenance, operations and eventual decommissioning. Digitalisation, of course, will have a key role to play in advancing this objective, for instance, by optimising capacity utilisation, thus reducing needs for physical infrastructure expansion.

While rendering infrastructures climate-proof will take different forms across the various network industries, all of them will have to confront a set of critical questions pertaining to regulatory policy, financing and taxation, among others. In view of this, the Florence School of Regulation’s first Sustainability Conference “Greening Infrastructures” (22 – 23 June 2022) tackled these questions in respect to energy and transport infrastructures.

This special issue of the NIQ further explores the topic of “Infrastructures and Sustainability” and features some of the best papers that were presented at the FSR Sustainability Conference.

The first contribution by Astier, Rajagopal and Wolak discusses empirical evidence from France suggesting that distributed wind and solar units alone are unlikely to lead to substantial savings in future grid investments.

Chu Donatus, Semassou, Ahouansou and Nsanyuy examine the sustainability of some installed renewable-based power systems in Cameroon and identify pull factors. They, furthermore, go on to make recommendations for the sector.

Cardinale and Emara find that Algeria has a potential cost advantage in transporting green hydrogen to Europe thanks to overcapacity in its existing gas infrastructure, which could be upgraded. By contrast, Egypt is more competitive in the generation of renewable power, a key input of green hydrogen, thanks to regulation that attracts investments.

Serafimova and Finger argue that if it is adequately designed and implemented the ReFuelEU Aviation Initiative could kick-start the European SAF market by fostering a reduction in SAF production costs with economies of scale and technological advances. But since SAFs alone cannot be considered a silver bullet their uptake will have to be accompanied by complementary and coherent efforts concerning other policy levers, such as carbon pricing, energy taxation and air traffic control, among others.

Separate articles can be downloaded from the links below:

Can distributed generation reduce future grid investments?

Nicolas Astier, Ram Rajagopal and Frank A. Wolak