HS2 pushes supply chain on pioneering old plant upgrades

1 July 2021 | Construction

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HS2 is encouraging its supply chain to retrofit old plant to extend their life and reduce emissions.

The megaproject’s head of environmental sciences Neil Wait told Construction News that helping to ensure machinery becomes cleaner is one of the ways it hopes to support the industry in reducing emissions.

He said: “We’ve seen a big shift in just a few years from 100 per cent diesel to a whole range of alternatives. If we can prove those and push them across our supply chain, that creates the cost benefit, the supply and demand, it gets them in use for the whole construction sector.”

Likening its retrofit scheme to conversion of old buses to meet town centre low-emissions rules, Wait outlined how the project has helped devise a new option for contractors to use and the benefits it should bring.

“Construction equipment can easily cost over £1m, has a lifespan of 10-12 years but we don’t allow plant on our sites older than approximately six years because we have cleaner emissions standards, but with this relatively cheap retrofit you can make an old piece of equipment actually cleaner than the new equipment coming out of the factory,” he said.

“So suddenly you can use them on our sites for the whole build, they’re in the supply chain, they’re cleaner [and] you get your whole-life investment back.”

A six-month pilot was carried out for HS2 last year by a firm called Eminox on a Balfour Beatty piling rig and tested by organisations including Imperial College London to gauge its effectiveness. It saw new exhaust technology added to a Junttan PM20. Results of the trial were validated by the Energy Saving Trust.

Wait said the project is keen to encourage innovation in the industry through different programmes it runs.

“HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project in the country, we want to show leadership in this, we want to be accelerating decarbonisation of construction,” he said. “We’re happy to work with anybody if we can help meet that aim, it’s going to help the whole industry.”

Wait will be among the speakers at CN’s Decarbonising Construction conference that takes place on 21-22 July 2021, where he will outline how HS2 works with its supply chain to reduce carbon emissions, the impact it has had so far and what is still to come.

Decarbonising Construction by Construction News

The virtual conference will provide an opportunity to learn how net-zero targets will impact your role, and highlight innovations from across the industry to help you reduce carbon in the way you design, build and maintain assets.

Book your ticket here.

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