HS2 achieves first diesel-free site

13 May 2022

HS2 has announced its first completely diesel-free site on the high-speed rail construction project.

At the Canterbury Road vent shaft site in South Kilburn, HS2’s civils contractor Skanska Costain Strabag joint venture (SCS JV) has introduced a range of diesel-free technologies and greener equipment.

Earlier this year, HS2 announced the project aims to be net-zero carbon from 2035, with the target of achieving its first diesel-free construction site in 2022, and all of its construction sites being diesel-free by 2029. 

Innovations on the Canterbury Road vent shaft site include one of the UK’s first 160-tonne emissions-free fully electric crawler cranes; the use of biofuels (hydrogenated vegetable oil) to power plant and machinery on site; an electric compressor; and access to mains power on a 100% renewable energy tariff.

HS2’s Net Zero Carbon Plan sets out how HS2 will achieve new carbon reduction milestones, support the decarbonisation of the UK construction sector and reduce the project’s carbon footprint. Other sites are set to follow, with innovations including retrofit technologies, biofuels, hydrogen and solar power helping to cut carbon across the whole of the route.

HS2’s environment director, Peter Miller, said the project was playing a major role in the decarbonisation of the construction industry, collaborating with the industry and its supply chain to accelerate innovation in low-carbon technologies.

“Reducing emissions and improving air quality on HS2 construction sites is crucial for both the environment and surrounding communities,” he said.

SCS managing director James Richardson said the joint venture was working with its supply chain to introduce renewable energy, green hydrogen and sustainable biofuels to help remove diesel entirely from its sites by 2023.

Innovations being trialled and introduced on other sites include:

  • ‘Clean Air Gas Engine’ funded through Innovate UK and led by OakTec, which replaces diesel power with ultra-low (bio-LPG) emission engines in Advante Welfare units and standalone units.
  • ‘EcoNet’ developed by Invisible Systems, Balfour Beatty and Sunbelt which controls and reduces energy output from key appliances, reducing power demand by 30%.
  • Non-road mobile machinery retrofit solutions which add pollution control equipment onto older vehicles as an alternative to replacing the machine or the engine, reducing emissions.
  • CESAR Emissions Compliance Verification – a resilient system to show the EU Stage engine emission class of all construction plant.
  • Proactive dust management solutions reducing impacts associated with on-site activities.
  • Fully electric renewable energy using solar and wind to power noise and air quality monitors, site security cameras and site briefing areas and solar pods powering sites by combining solar PV, battery storage and a back-up generator.

Hydrogen technology trials across sites considering both fuel-cell technology and combustible hydrogen solutions.