Results from Balfour’s Zero Carbon Site


Balfour Beatty has been trialing new initiatives at their Zero Carbon Construction Site of the future at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh. Let’s see how it’s panning out.

Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh
by Andrew CurtinMarch 27, 2023

The Balfour team working to deliver the Edinburgh Biomes project at the Royal Botanic Gardens trialled a fleet of all electric plant. Pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the next generation of:

  • Telehandlers
  • Excavators
  • Dumpers
  • Wackers

This was the first time on a live Balfour Beatty site that they have used all-electric plan. And with c.75% of equipment on construction sites still diesel-powered, trialling new equipment that reduces emissions and particulates output is key for Net-Zero targets .

Will Balfour be able to roll this out?

They have faced some challenges with this initiative. Valuable lessons have been learnt. They now know that despite the benefits of all electric plant, it may not be something than can roll out quickly.

“In spite of the benefits, all-electric plant isn’t yet a realistic option for our bigger sites, or for heavy plant. Just as the range on electric cars isn’t there yet, so the length of time plant can operate flat-out is an issue for the construction sector. Elsewhere in the business, we are buying large amounts of piling machinery. It’s very difficult to make electrification work for big pieces, especially without a mains grid connection – and we need to ensure that there is capacity in the network. The range when they are not plugged in is limited. 

These larger pieces of electric equipment can also be twice the price of standard plant, and customers are often not prepared to pay the increased hire charges for them. Our view is that, for heavy plant, the priority for the industry has to be to accelerate the energy transition to hydrogen rather than relying on electric to provide the solution.” – Jo Gilroy, Group Sustainability Director at Balfour Beatty

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