HS2 jumps ahead of carbon target

HS2. Charging a crane at Canterbury Road vent shaft.

HS2 has revealed that ten of its construction sites have become 100% diesel-free ahead of schedule, smashing the project’s original target of one diesel-free site in 2022.

Seven construction sites in the Chilterns and Colne Valley, and three sites in London have completely eliminated diesel from their operation – generators, welfare facilities, crawler cranes and piling rigs.

The news marks the next step on HS2’s journey towards fully diesel-free construction sites by 2029. 

Earlier this year, the Canterbury Road Vent Shaft in South Kilburn, managed by Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV), became HS2’s first diesel-free site. Also managed by SCS, the Euston Approaches and Victoria Road Crossover Box sites have achieved diesel-free status.

Align – a joint venture formed of Bouygues Travaux Publics, Sir Robert McAlpine, and VolkerFitzpatrick - have also announced that seven of their 14 sites 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.

Transport minister Huw Merriman said: “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.”

And, alongside these green wins, HS2 has also launched its Diesel-free Plan: Building a net zero future.

The plan details HS2's journey to diesel-free construction sites and a new ratings system which ranks all sites from diamond to bronze, so progress can be mapped over the next few years.

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.”

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.

Their first site - Canterbury Road Vent Shaft in South Kilburn, is connected to mains electricity on a 100% renewable energy tariff. This 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, with the rest of the machinery using sustainably sourced biofuels (HVO) as a direct replacement for diesel.

At HS2’s Euston Approaches, also managed by SCS JV, the world’s first all-electric, high-capacity BAUER drilling rig cuts 1,200kg of CO2 per day and reduces noise by 50%, bringing massive environmental benefits and adding momentum to HS2’s ambition to cut carbon and reduce impacts to surrounding residents.

In addition, one of the tower cranes in the Euston Area has been fitted with the PUNCH Flybrid ‘flywheel’ energy recovery system, which stores and kinetic energy to use when needed to downscale peak energy demand and therefore cut energy consumption.

SCS’s third diesel-free site, Victoria Road Crossover Box has a mains electricity connection, is deploying electric equipment and making use of sustainably sourced biofuels (HVO). The site recently successfully completed trials for two GeoPura 250kVA hydrogen power units (HPUs) – cutting carbon and improving air quality for workers and the local community.

James Richardson, managing director of SCS JV said: “We are proud to be pioneers of diesel-free construction, and we are committed to seeking out and adopting new technology and ways of working to eliminate diesel on construction sites. This all starts with a shift in mindset and a belief that our industry can have a cleaner, greener future.”

As well as seven of Align’s 14 sites becoming diesel-free, their 136 acres (80 football pitches) Chiltern Tunnels South Portal, HS2’s largest construction site, is also well on its way to becoming 100% diesel-free next year. 

On the site, over 120 pieces of plant including dumpers, tractors, excavators, pumps and crushers are all operating using sustainably sourced biofuels (HVO).

In addition, there’s a range of fully electric plant such as telehandlers and excavators, renewable energy sources such as solar, and site safety gates powered by hydrogen, all reducing carbon impacts and improving local air quality.

Adetunji Lawal, Align JV’s carbon and energy manager said: “Our strategy is to move to diesel-free operations across all of our construction sites, so we’re thrilled to say that half of our sites are now diesel-free. In addition, on our extensive Chiltern Tunnel South Portal site, all of the earthworks activities that represent 70% of our fuel consumption are now 100% diesel free. We estimate that Align will be able to deliver carbon savings that equate to 80,000 tonnes by the end of the project, supporting HS2’s zero carbon ambitions.”

Click here to read HS2’s Diesel-free Plan: Building a net zero future.

Click here to watch a short HS2 video about three of the sites.

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