Charging a crane at Canterbury Road vent shaft, via HS2

HS2: The paragon of a diesel-free future

HS2 has announced that 10 of its sites are now completely diesel-free, acting as a major step towards the goal of fully diesel-free construction across its sites by 2029. This massive achievement has blown original projections out of the water as 2022 was only targeted for one of these decarbonised sites of works.

The first of these innovative sites came earlier this year at the Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV) managed Canterbury Road Vent Shaft in South Kilburn, with Euston Approaches and Victoria Road Crossover Box sites following. The Canterbury Road plot achieved this status through a connection to mains electricity on a 100% renewable energy tariff, which then powers one of the UK’s first 160 tonne emissions-free fully electric crawler crane, as well as other electric plant such as electric compressors.

After achieving the first diesel-free site on the HS2 project in May, SCS JV aim to be fully diesel-free by the end of 2023 using a combination of mains electricity, fully electric machines, renewable energy, and biofuels.

A further seven of the Align managed sites have achieved this status also, meaning that half of their 14 strong roster are now diesel free. These include five vent shaft sites along the route of the 10-mile Chiltern tunnels in Buckinghamshire, and two sites involved in the construction of the Colne Valley Viaduct.

The Jewel in Align’s crown - Chiltern Tunnels South Portal, HS2’s largest construction site – is well on its way to achieving the diesel-free status by next year. This is being achieved through over 120 pieces of plant including dumpers, tractors, excavators, pumps, and crushers are all operating using sustainably sourced biofuels (HVO).

Transport Minister Huw Merriman said:

“HS2 will help to transform the future of construction, decarbonise transport and help us deliver Net Zero, and leave as little trace as possible by planting millions of trees and creating innovative, low-carbon solutions for removing waste from construction sites.

“This is yet another important milestone in the journey towards diesel-free construction, as HS2 ensures this project has a minimal impact on the environment and local communities while transforming journeys for decades to come.”

To maintain transparency within the ambitions to achieve the 100% diesel-free status, HS2 has published a ‘Diesel-free Plan: Building a net zero future’, in which it outlines the plans for further expansion within the existing sites and unveils a new ratings system which ranks all sites from diamond to bronze, so progress can be mapped over the next few years. The plan also highlights that by the end of 2022, all joint ventures working on the HS2 Main Work Civils will have a plan in place to accelerate their own diesel-free ambitions.

Andrea Davidson, HS2 Ltd’s Head of Environmental Sciences said:

“Our ambitious goal is to eliminate diesel on all HS2 construction sites by 2029. One of the first targets in our Net Zero Carbon Plan was to achieve one diesel-free site during 2022, so we’re thrilled to see ten sites already reaching this major milestone supported through the hard work from our on-site teams.

“Our ‘Diesel-free Plan: Building a net zero future’ explains how we will reach our goal by improving efficiencies, switching to cleaner fuels, using renewable power such as solar, using the latest cleanest and fully-electric machinery, and continuing to collaborate with the wider industry to set new standards and push the boundaries of green innovation.”

Through 2023, HS2 will continue to facilitate green innovation trials in its works, aiming to achieve additional diesel-free sites, with further pioneering work to create cleaner and greener ways of working through 2024 to 2029.

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