University of Twente Student Theses


Electrification of Construction equipment

Srinivasan, Dharshan (2022) Electrification of Construction equipment.

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Abstract:Motivating contractors and the government to cut emissions at infrastructure development sites is essential if we want to mitigate the consequences of climate change. However, little study has been done on how to quicken the shift to phasing out fossil fuel construction equipment on site. This study investigates the factors that slow down and speed up the shift to the use of electric equipment in the Dutch infrastructure industry. The findings came from research based on semi-structured interviews, desk research, and meeting notes from participant observation. The purpose of this study was to learn more about the transition process from the viewpoints of the government and contractors. Additionally, the influence of innovation and technology in the transition process was investigated. Not only the barriers but even the actions and drivers were also discussed to answer the main research question: How can the transition of phasing out fossil fuel equipment on construction sites be accelerated? Before working on accelerating the transition, it was a must condition to understand the current situation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in order to gather information about the barriers that hinder the transition and the counteractive actions that drive the transition to achieve the goal. LinkedIn worked as a foundation in finding respondents and then one respondent connected to another and nine interviewees were interested in sharing information and helping with this thesis. Respondents from BAM, Heijmans, ENI and Rijkswaterstaat were a part of this research. Interviews took place via Microsoft Teams and personal interviews. Teams had the feature of transcribing the complete interview in real-time. These transcripts went through manual thematic analysis to understand the different barriers, drivers and actions in this transition. The lack of readily available electric machinery was the biggest technological obstacle. Contractors and government policy tools are both hampered by this. Limited fueling and charging options were another significant technological barrier. Currently, compared to the machines that are in use today that run on fossil fuels, the costs of zero-emission alternatives are too expensive to be financially viable. The fact that electric equipment is still in development and innovations are being introduced to the market gradually is the major reason for the poor availability and high investment prices. It was discovered that certain hurdles relating to the government, contractors, and technology and innovation were related through a cause-and-effect connection. The obstacle of contractor’s wait-and-see attitude appears to be linked to the barrier of the government's lack of a clear market strategy and clarity. The findings indicate that, in general, interviewees from the contractor and the government do not have the same perspective. Different obstacles and categories that delay the shift were ranked differently by each actor. This was discovered to constitute a barrier in and of itself. By submitting bids for these emission reduction projects, contractors may hasten the shift and improve their competitiveness. Winning these contracts provides funding for new electric machinery and increases the competitiveness of future zero-emission initiatives. Additionally, according to the respondents, the government may exert more of a stimulating influence than it now does. According to interviews, there are two distinct responsibilities for the government: major client and legislator/policy maker. As the primary customer, it is crucial that the government pushes the market to function as emission-free as feasible. When sufficient zero-emission equipment is widely accessible on the market, the respondents suggested that zero-emission might be included in the contract criteria. For instance, additional incentives might be made for the acquisition of technology that produces no emissions. Contractors must also do their part to hasten the transition to zero-emission construction sites. The little and medium-sized electric equipment that is now accessible might help contractors gain more expertise. The ability to use new equipment be taught to and trained in construction employees. In order to find new collaborations and project stakeholders and to encourage the development, accessibility, and delivery of early equipment, contractors might also proactively engage suppliers, manufacturers, and subcontractors. The results of the interviews revealed that the government and contractors usually see this change differently. The employment of policy instruments by the government may encourage, coordinate, and enforce the private sector. Additionally, contractors might practice social responsibility and refrain from viewing the reduction of emissions at construction sites as merely a governmental issue. Several limitations are faced in this research. The research used semi-structured interviews as a base to do this study, more case study research could have been done. Secondly, the research is limited to one country, The Netherlands. When inputs from other countries are input the results could have been more nurtured. The result of this study contributes by listing down the actions for acceleration. The actions combine both government and contractor sides to accelerate the transition to phasing out fossil fuel equipment on the construction site.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:ET: Engineering Technology
Subject:56 civil engineering
Programme:Construction Management and Engineering MSc (60337)
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