Electrification, Sustainability & the Construction Industry

Electrification is entering industries unlike ever before and construction is part of this evolution. Since as early as 2017 big companies have been putting out electric vehicle truck options. 

We have seen the electrification of dozers and wheel loaders with more innovation to come. In the next few years, the electrification of backhoes, excavators, and graders are expected in part due to the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) stricter emission standards.  

The EPA now limits diesel engines to near-zero levels for emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. This means there have been big reductions in emissions from construction equipment. Future regulations could lead to zero emissions on heavy construction equipment, leading manufacturers to go fully electric.  

The construction industry is responsible for 11% of energy-related carbon emissions globally (Jones, 2019).  With the continual push towards an all-electric future, it comes as no surprise that the construction industry will follow suit.  

Some of the biggest players in the construction industry such as Caterpillar, Bobcat and Hyundai have already started implementing zero emission, fully electric machines. Caterpillar has already converted a 28-ton CAT 323F excavator from a 122kW electric motor diesel engine to a 300kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This excavator can work for five to seven hours before needing to be recharged and they have already sold their first one to a company in Norway (Jones, 2019). 

Bobcat has also created an excavator that is powered by lithium-ion batteries. This excavator can run for 8 hours and only requires two and a half hours to charge. Hyundai has partnered with Cummins to develop a range of construction machines with their focus being on mini and compact models with plans to develop bigger models in the future (Ltd. & Baumpub). 

The future of the construction industry is putting sustainability efforts forward in their mission and is leveraging electrification to help reach those goals.  Soon these machines will be battery powered and have zero emissions helping combat global warming while, potentially causing less noise pollution on construction sites.  

Sources:

  1. Jones, K. (2019, February 22). Electric dreams: Will heavy construction equipment go all-electric? ConstructConnect, Construction Project Management Software. https://www.constructconnect.com/blog/electric-dreams-will-heavy-construction-equipment-go-electric.  
  2. Ltd., B. P., & Baumpub. (n.d.). Heavy equipment Guide April 2020, VOLUME 35, number 4. Issuu. https://issuu.com/baumpub/docs/heg_april_2020.