Oct 29, 2023

The struggle to electrify one of the world’s dirtiest industries


When construction workers arrived to begin transforming Oslo's Olav Vs gate into a pedestrian promenade, locals rolled their eyes. It was September 2019, and the prospect of a jammed turnaround zone for taxis becoming an even noisier, polluted construction site was viewed with disdain.

But the naysayers were in for a surprise. Almost all of the machinery used, from excavators to wheel loaders, was powered either by battery or directly from the grid. This meant the site was significantly free of engine noise and direct emissions, proving you can use electrified machines for most construction operations.

Construction, across its entire supply chain, is responsible for around 23% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Most originate in the creation of building materials (especially concrete and steel) or transporting them to where they’re needed. But around 5.5% of emissions come directly from construction sites — predominantly through the burning of fossil fuels that power machinery and generators.

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