Heavy-duty construction equipment: dinosaurs of black energy?
Paper in proceeding, 2021
Construction equipment emissions in civil engineering are a major sustainability issue. However, the industry continues investing in diesel (and/or biodiesel) machines - which, even if compliant with EU regulations, are far from “clean”. Cleaner technologies in construction equipment, like electrical engines, are considered more expensive investments; moreover, they are dependent on the available power supply while operating in confined areas. So, transitioning these machines sustainably involves changing technologies, business models, and public regulation. In Scandinavia, heavy-duty engines (over 25 tons) have only recently become (limitedly) available. Therefore, the current paper analyzes enablers and barriers for a sustainable transition of civil engineering construction equipment to onsite electrical machines in Scandinavia. The sustainable transition theory, combined with sustainable business models, serves as the framework of understanding. Empirically, a desk study of governance and regulation is combined with material from four fossil-free test building sites in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. The results highlight the importance of a public-private business model, where public client-driven transition is subsidy-supported (e.g., making electrical equipment available through concession, and encouraging small innovative machine manufacturers to develop electrical equipment), while waiting for international construction equipment players to become transition-ready. Recommendations for the transition thus include strengthening public-private collaboration.