Research makes case for mass adoption of electric construction machinery

Dr David Wyatt, technology analyst at UK-based firm IDTechEx has presented research findings supporting electric construction machinery uptake. Photo courtesy IDTechEx

While off-road construction vehicles only contribute to 1.1 per cent of global emissions, International Energy Agency’s estimates for the overall construction industry suggest a 20 per cent involvement in the global carbon footprint.

This constitutes as substantive reasoning to push toward electric-powered construction machinery adoption, according to Dr David Wyatt, a technology analyst at IDTechEx, a UK-based research firm.

Two major reasons advocating the adoption of machine electrification are related to improving overall health and safety of employees:

  • Electric vehicles will allow for the elimination of particulate exhaust emissions from the combustion of diesel fuel in company machines, and replace fossil fuel-powered excavators, loaders, and cranes, helping improve air quality at construction sites.
  • They are also better for employee health as they are known to be quieter and do not contribute to noise pollution as much.

Countries such as Norway are already adapting to green construction in an ongoing movement in six major cities, including Oslo, to ban non-zero emission machines from construction sites. In 2019, the country established the first zero-emission urban construction site, and from 2030 onward, it will ban non-zero emission machines from construction sites. Norway’s strong policy has spurred the development of many heavy-duty electric construction vehicle prototypes in Europe.

International pressure to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from the construction industry is being driven by national environmental policies. The 2015 UNFCC Paris Agreement has seen many countries commit to reducing the emission of CO2, with a lot of them having set timelines for net zero emission—Germany 2045; UK, US, and Japan 2050; China 2060. Active role of governments in the form of subsidization and tax breaks on electric-powered construction machinery will help the world move toward a more conscious and greener construction industry.

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