Five reasons construction jobsites are going electric
August 22, 2023 By Anthony Capkun
August 22, 2023 – The electrification of construction machinery is hardly a new concept. For years, electric equipment has been commonly seen in a variety of applications, from demolition and mining to aerial lift and industrial work.
Now, however, electric equipment is becoming increasingly prevalent on and around jobsites. Its benefits are clear; its potential is evident. Its long-term place in the industry is no longer up for debate.
And, as electric vehicles continue to be more widely adopted by consumers, all that’s left to do is examine—and try to accurately determine—how the construction industry should prepare for the technology to become fully mainstream in the not-too-distant future.
While speaking about just the variety of electric vehicles we’ll see down the road (pun intended), David Knight, CEO of IoT company Terbine, said “If you go out [in] about three years, there will be approximately 700 electric vehicles roadside, and that’s not even getting into construction and agriculture”.
Speaking at CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2023, Knight commented on how the construction industry should prepare for the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. According to Knight, there are five main reasons why equipment end users in the construction industry are strongly considering investing (or already have invested) in electric equipment:
#1 – Lower operating costs
The savings on diesel costs alone are significant. Most OEMs cite a range of four to eight hours of run-time for “average” use on electric compact equipment, with an 8-hour overnight charge. And while it’s quick and easy to compare run-times on a fully charged electric machine against a full tank on diesel units, remember that there is no idling on an electric machine. Therefore, an operator can get a day or more of productive work out of it because he’s not typically running a machine for eight continuous hours.
#2 – Lower maintenance costs
Reciprocating engines possess many friction-generating parts that fail. The friction, and the frictional components and amount of heat generated with an engine running, is really what contributes to parts being replaced and maintained.
#3 – Federal and tax credits
Incentives can offer savings in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars across a single fleet. Because they change all the time, it is important for organizations to stay up to date on available incentives—both regionally and nationally.
#4 – Carbon credits and offsets
Carbon credits (a.k.a. carbon allowances) work like permission slips for emissions. When a company buys a carbon credit—usually from government—it gains permission to generate one ton of CO2 emissions. When one company removes a unit of carbon from the atmosphere as part of its normal business activity, it can generate a carbon offset. Other companies can then purchase that carbon offset to reduce their own carbon footprint.
#5 – ESG goals
Organizations are slowly setting and working toward environmental, social, governance goals—a trend that is expected to become more common with time. Companies without ESG goals and corresponding policies face risks that could include loss of investors, a damaged reputation, and fines for regulatory non-compliance.
There is every reason to believe that electric vehicles and equipment will continue to develop and improve over time, said Knight, thus making a greater level of adoption even more likely in the near future.
According to Knight, the architectures of EVs are rising to even higher voltages. The higher the voltage, he explained, the less current is needed for a given amount of wattage. That also means less heat. And while voltages are very good now, they are expected to improve significantly in the coming years.
“They’re going to be really good in three to five years, and that’s going to allow for even faster and more efficient charging than ever before,” he added.
— With files from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, a North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers.
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