The theme of sustainable mobility is one of the most debated topics in environmental policies.

The improvement of transport system represents one of the priorities to promote a better quality of life for citizens and to create new economic opportunities, especially in urban areas. Transport system is considered indeed one of the main source of air pollution, and in Italy it produces more than 49% of the emissions of particulate matter (PM10), therefore also affecting the health of citizens.

Also Italian small islands find their development slowed by the problems linked to regional mobility systems that make them dependent on the continental territory, although diversified according to the individual geomorphological characteristics.
Recently mobility in the smaller islands has been the subject of various projects, either at European, national and local level, even if to date there is no organic mobility plan for these islands.


In terms of sustainable mobility, the technologies are various and increasingly innovative.

Starting from the car sector, there are various "green" solutions, from biomethane to lithium batteries. Starting from the latter, world leaders are the Nissan and Tesla companies, which are breaking into the market with ever higher sales quotas.

Electric car

The electric car is a vehicle with an electric motor that uses as primary energy source the chemical energy stored in an energy "reservoir" consisting of one or more rechargeable batteries and made available from these to the engine in the form of electricity. The rechargeable batteries used in the most common electric vehicles are based on lithium; among the most promising in development there are lithium-titanium batteries and possibly new variants of the zinc-air pile (which however can not be recharged on place/site).

Electric cars are loaded from the electricity grid; in this case, the energy is generated by a variety of resources such as coal, hydropower, fuel oil, natural gas or other renewable sources. As far as energy efficiency is concerned, electric motors are more efficient than almost all internal combustion engines. In fact, the petrol engine usually has an EE of around 28%, a diesel around 40%, while the electric one can reach 90%.

Speaking instead in terms of environmental impact, the most comprehensive type of analysis is that which considers from the assembly line to the landfill, including the consumptions (and emissions) implicated by the original production (and also of the components) and the sources of fuel and all the consumptions (and the emissions) during the useful life of the vehicle, including pollution during battery production and landfill.

The other big difference between electric vehicles with respect to the environmental impact is that they use electricity instead of liquid fuels: moreover, if electricity is generated from renewable sources, this would allow a substantial advantage in terms of pollution. In any case, to date this energy is even more produced by fossil fuels, but nevertheless the relative advantage of electric vehicles remains relevant.

Biomethane cars

New technologies concern the power supply of cars, especially from biogas and waste water. In this system, the pollutants are removed from the waste water through mechanical and biological procedures (that is with the use of bacteria) and finally with exposure to ultraviolet rays for disinfection. The materials that are extracted to "purify" the water, the sewage sludge, represent a unique resource: thanks to the treatment in anaerobic digesters, these are fermented to produce biogas, usable as an energy vector. By separating the methane from the biogas, this is further enhanced because we obtain the biomethane, as we will see later. Furthermore, the wastewater life cycle does not end there.

I fanghi di depurazione possono essere recuperati come nutriente in agricoltura, come fonte energetica in cementificio o in termovalorizzazione. Tale nuova tipologia di alimentazione può ovviamente essere utilizzata anche per il trasporto pubblico locale; varie infatti sono le iniziative sulla penisola italiana che puntano alla riduzione dei bus a gasolio al fine di sostituirli con mezzi alimentati a biometano.

Car Sharing

Car sharing is a mobility urban service that allows users to book a vehicle and rent it by paying for the time of actual use. Typically it is a commercial service provided by public or private companies. Currently, car sharing is divided into two main formulas: free floating, free flow (vehicles can be collected and left anywhere within the area covered by the service) and location based (with collection and delivery in specific meeting points of the city).

Car sharing is different from traditional rental mainly for some features:

- access to the service is not limited to office hours;

- reservation, activation and redelivery are carried out autonomously by the use of the service;

- vehicles can be rent for minutes, hours or even whole days;

- users are registered members of the car sharing service and at the time of rental of the vehicle are already authorized as the driving license and the payment system are previously verified at the time of registration;

- the position of the vehicles is widely distributed in the area of use of the service;

- the cost of fuel is included in the cost of using the vehicle;

- vehicles are not checked and cleaned after each rental.

In the last year, car sharing with electric cars has also been introduced, a sustainable choice not only for the reduction of cars on the streets, but also for the reduction of pollution.

Car Pooling

Car pooling refers to the shared use of private cars among a group of people, with the main purpose of reducing travel costs. The service is managed by various web platforms, which guarantee the reliability of the driver (through a feedback system) and protect the driver and / or passenger in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

The advantages of the service are certainly the reduction in machine costs, which the single driver would have to face by himself, but not only: with the use of car pooling, in fact, traffic congestion is reduced (reducing vehicles in circulation) which leads, at the same time, to a reduction in pollution. In addition, there is another form of service, company car pooling, which is increasingly gaining ground in our country: many, in fact, only companies that join the service, allowing their employees a shared and sustainable transport.


The bicycle is THE eco-sustainable means of transport; in fact, in a radius between 0 and 6 km the bicycle is statistically faster than any other vehicle, generally more convenient as it is not bound to problems of parking or passage in areas closed to traffic, more ecological and economic.

Furthermore, it positively affects the liveability of the city, making it less stifling, more human-friendly and safer in correlation with the objective reduction of urban accidents.

Investing on bicycle mobility means promoting a traffic system that can significantly reduce the impact of motorized traffic, improving both air quality (given the benefits of zero emissions) and increasing road safety.

One of the tools of sustainable mobility available to public administrations is bike sharing, which allows the same administrations to increase the use of public transport by integrating them with each other, uniting them to the use of shared bicycles for proximity travel where the public vehicle does not arrive or can not arrive. It is therefore a possible solution to the problem of the "last kilometer", that is that part of the route that separates the stop of public transport to the final destination of the user.

Bike sharing involves the installation of stations in different parts of the city where to put bicycles, which can be used after having been unlocked or with key or contactless card, managed by private and public bodies.

Traghetto elettrico

The electric ferry is already a reality: operating since 2015 in the Norwegian seas (marine stretch Lavik-Oppedal), the project takes the name of Ampére, born from the collaboration between Siemens and Norled, and is completely ecological and the first marine transport vehicle capable of do not produce pollution. It is about 80 meters long and has been designed with a particular type of aluminum, which is more resistant and light, able to support the weight of people, vehicles (has the capacity to bear the weight of over 360 passengers and about a hundred of vehicles), as well as batteries.

The ferry has two 450kW electric motors (designed by Siemens), and the batteries are equipped with a power equivalent to 1MW lithium-ion batteries, which allow about 30 trips without the need for recharging. As far as speed is concerned, the ferry will reach a speed of about 10 knots, not striking but that allows covering the stretch in about half an hour. Furthermore, the battery mounting has been designed in a simplified way so as to allow it to be replaced in a short period of time in the event of a fault. Finally, the power supply is divided into three blocks of batteries: the first is mounted on the ferry, allowing it to move between the two villages; the other two, are allocated in the dock of Lavik and in that of Oppedal, so that the battery can be connected to the rechargeable source.

Tram eco-friendly

In Central China, precisely in the province of Hunan, Art - Autonomous rail transit - was presented, the first tram in the world able to move independently without the tracks but following a special paint painted on the asphalt, which acts as a guide. 32 meters long, it can reach a maximum speed of 70 km / h, transporting up to 307 people.

Bright green has a lithium battery that can travel 25 km with only 10 minutes of charging. In addition, the tram is designed to be able to move around without a driver, even if it is currently provided with a double cockpit, but only for security reasons. The construction of the first 6.5km long transport line is scheduled for 2018 in the city of Zhuzhou.

Best Practices

Nord Sea islands

In the North Sea, thanks to the "Cradle-to-Cradle Island" project, mobility was redesigned on the island of Ameland, belonging to the archipelago of the Western Frisian Islands and to the province of Friesland. The main problem to be solved is tourism: in fact, most tourists (especially families) take their car on the ferry, increasing traffic on the island. Thus the project aims to find an alternative and sustainable solution: the "vrachtfielts", a modular bicycle, which can meet various needs, being also intended as freight transport (and therefore also travelers' cases), significantly reducing emissions.


Returning to our country, it is interesting the project co-funded by the European Commission under the LIFE + ELBA program, coordinated by the Port Authority of Piombino and Elba, obtaining then the adhesion of many partners.

The project represents a first experiment of sustainable transport of people and goods made on a minor island, focusing more on the environmental and landscape protection of the territory.

The objective was to promote sustainable and flexible mobility in the field, achieving for this purpose 28 structured actions. The main sustainable and flexible mobility measures implemented were:

- the "ELBA Spiagge" and "ELBA Est" services, with minibuses with low environmental impact, bimodal and electric for transporting residents and tourists during the summer, connecting tourists to beaches and inland centers;

- specific services for the transport of goods, aimed at using bi-modal and electric ecological vans for the distribution of goods coming from the mainland, as well as for the distribution of electronic products and household appliances, and for bread delivery (in this case the latest generation of ecological diesel vehicles are used). The results assessments, carried out on an annual basis, showed a reduction in emissions of 94.3 tons of CO2e.


Favignana, gem of the Egadi Islands, has been awarded the title of the Mediterranean "bicycle path" island, thanks to a 20km long two-lane track. On the island in fact there are more than 6,500 bicycles, and the route is almost all flat making it accessible to all exploration on two wheels.

Smart Island is a project funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research and carried out by CNR IIA which aims to find solutions to increase energy efficiency, economic and environmental sustainability of the whole system of production, management, distribution and use of the island of Lampedusa.