In infrastructure financing, sustainability becomes a “must”

In infrastructure financing, sustainability becomes a “must”

Sustainability is increasingly the protagonist when it comes to financing to build infrastructures of strategic importance. Thus, among the various criteria necessary to define the feasibility of a project, the impact assessment of the investment becomes fundamental. It is no coincidence that Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, leader in the sector (after a long process of support for the Public Administration, since its inception over 170 years ago), has decided to focus its Strategic Plan launched in December 2021 on infrastructures linked in particular to sustainable mobility. The company provides projects with financial engineering and the tools necessary for assessing ESG criteria, with the added value of structuring loans together with solid partners, such as the EIB and the European Investment Bank.

An example is the 750 million euros earmarked for the modernization and management of the motorway network in the Upper Adriatic, which will generate important economic and social impacts throughout the territory. The operation is structured in two loans of 375 million each that the EIB and CDP have made available to Società Autostrade Alto Adriatico for the expansion and upgrading of the A4 Venice-Trieste, A28 Portogruaro-Conegliano, A23 Palmanova-Udine, A57 Tangenziale di Mestre and A34 Villesse-Gorizia motorway sections. The works envisage making the infrastructure safe, de-congesting traffic and maintaining employment levels. There will also be the benefits deriving from the modernization of a fundamental and strategic section for the continent, which is part of the Lisbon-Kiev corridor of the TEN-T network trans-European for transport, energy and telecommunications. A truly crucial hub for connecting Eastern and Western Europe.

From north to south there are many interventions. Thus in Sicily action will be taken to modernize the 178 km of the Palermo-Catania railway line, with an investment of 3.4 billion euros. The project will connect the 2 capitals and the northern and eastern coasts of the island with the interior of the Region. Passenger and freight trains will reach a maximum speed of 200 km/h, with a reduction in travel times of the route of about 60 minutes, so it will be possible to go from Palermo to Catania with direct trains in two hours compared to the current three hours). The project will contribute to the economic and social development of the region and to promote the development of sustainable mobility. "The initiative is an example of how the synergy between the public and private sectors can and must effectively contribute to bridging the infrastructure gap in our country", explained Dario Scannapieco, CEO and General Manager of CDP, during the presentation of the project. "In this phase of relaunch and modernization, launched also thanks to the resources of the PNRR, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti continues to play a leading role in the implementation of strategic projects that have a sustainable impact on the environment and the economy, improving people's daily lives".

The "iron cure" also passes from the 40 million which will instead be allocated to the strengthening of the Emilia-Romagna railway network, to encourage the sustainable use of local public transport through the electrification of the lines and an improvement of accessibility in the stations. the loan concerns the complete electrification of the Parma-Suzzara-Poggio Rusco and Sassuolo-Reggio Emilia-Guastalla lines (with important benefits in terms of sustainability, reduction of journey times and CO2 emissions), the abolition of two level crossings in Sassuolo and Modena, with improvements in terms of local traffic and safety for citizens, the replacement of the rails, switches and sleepers of the Scandiano (RE) station and the reconstruction of the railway bridge over the Trigolaro canal of the Su line zzana-Ferrara.

Even private mobility can become increasingly sustainable, as with the program to support the decarbonisation of European transport infrastructures, Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Facility, in which CDP is a partner of the European Commission. With a 50 million euro loan from Cassa, to which are added 50.4 from the Commission, the construction of one of the largest high-speed electric charging networks in Europe by 2025 is supported, i.e. the "Be Charge" project: over 2,000 "ultra-fast" charging points, with a minimum power of 150kW along the main European transport corridors in Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Slovenia and Greece.

CDP thus confirms its role as long-term lender alongside public entities, while at the same time making sustainability a real "must": without it, the project won't move a step.

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