Florence School of Regulation puts the Spotlight on the Greening of Infrastructures at its first-ever Sustainability Conference

While the Florence School of Regulation has a long-standing tradition of coming together for its Annual Conference on the Regulation of Infrastructures, this year, the School went a step further by additionally hosting its first-ever Sustainability Conference on 22-23 June 2022. Focused on the theme of “Greening Infrastructures”, the FSR Sustainability Conference provided a timely platform for discussion on topical regulatory, financing and taxation questions pertinent to the greening of infrastructures across the energy and transport sectors.

While the Florence School of Regulation has a long-standing tradition of coming together for its Annual Conference on the Regulation of Infrastructures, this year, the School went a step further by additionally hosting its first-ever Sustainability Conference on 22-23 June 2022. Focused on the theme of “Greening Infrastructures”, the FSR Sustainability Conference provided a timely platform for discussion on topical regulatory, financing and taxation questions pertinent to the greening of infrastructures across the energy and transport sectors.

Against the backdrop of the European Green Deal and the Fit for 55’ Package published last year, 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 the need for physical infrastructure expansion. The war in Ukraine has underscored the importance of accelerating Europe’s transition away from fossil fuels with further consequences for the various infrastructures.

While ways of rendering infrastructures climate-proof will vary across network industries, all of them will have to confront a set of critical questions linked to regulatory policy, financing and taxation, among others. In view of this, the first day of the Conference (22 June) was devoted to the presentation and discussion of 13 selected papers addressing the above-mentioned measures that aim at decarbonising the basic infrastructures either alone or preferably in a systemic way, linking theory and practice.

We need to work across sectors within our School just like regulators and policymakers have to work more and more across silos. But I think there is also an opportunity to connect through this type of Conference with the rest of the European University Institute (EUI) because we are all sector experts, but in the EUI, you also have more general expertise on sustainability or on digital. And I think this general expertise can nicely come together with the more sector focus that we have.
Leonardo Meeus

The “best paper” award was awarded to Nicolas Astier, Ram Rajagopal and Frank A. Wolak for their paper titled “Can Distributed Intermittent Renewable Generation Reduce Future Grid Investments? Evidence from France”.

In our work, we want to understand whether small-scale solar and wind installations have the ability to defer future distribution grid expenses. We try to answer this question based on observational data in France. We believe that this is a very important input to the policy debate and to the way renewable energy should be supported in the future.” argued Nicolas Astier, Professor at the Paris School of Economics and a researcher at the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, who presented the paper during the Conference.

The second day (23 June) of the Conference took the form of a Florence Policy Forum, bringing together policymakers, regulators, industry experts and renowned academics. The authors of the three best papers presented on day 1 of the Conference were additionally invited to present their main policy insights during the Policy Forum and benefit from critical feedback from practitioners.

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