Birmingham air quality initiative gains support from HS2’s green technology

Posted: 2 June 2021 | | No comments yet

Following the beginning of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone on 1 June 2021, HS2 has outlined how its use and promotion of green technology is supporting the pollution and air quality initiative.

Birmingham air quality initiative gains support from HS2's green technology

Credit: HS2 Ltd - Electric machinery on HS2's Curzon Street Station site in Birmingham.

Following the first day of Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (1 June 2021), HS2 Ltd has outlined how the project’s new low-carbon technology will support Birmingham City Council’s objective to reduce pollution and improve air quality in the city.

HS2 is going way beyond the requirements to lower carbon and emissions on its construction sites and, with HS2’s Curzon Street Station site in the city centre, the project confirms that the use of the latest, cleanest technology will lower emissions, protecting the environment and keeping people safe.

A whole range of innovations are being introduced to cut emissions and improve local air quality, not just in Birmingham but right across the HS2 project. These include hybrid, zero-emission machinery; renewable energy; alternative fuels; and recycled products.

In addition, HS2 is leading a series of ground-breaking trials in conjunction with academia and its supply chain, set to bring massive improvements in local air quality and welfare conditions for construction site workers, with wider positive public health and environmental benefits for communities.

The project has set standards for the use of the lowest emitting vehicle engines across all contractors, as well as set targets for contractors to go beyond these, as technology improves. In addition, the project has also set industry leading emissions standards for all machinery, including excavators, dumpers, large cranes and piling machines.

HS2’s top 10 air quality innovations include:

  1. The UK’s first 250-tonne all-electric crawler crane, which is zero-emission
  2. A 15-tonne electric road sweeper, which saves over 100kg of CO2 emissions per day in comparison to a diesel sweeper
  3. Trialling the use of alternative fuels, including a hydrogen dual-fuel system in construction vehicles
  4. Trialling the use of renewable energy solutions (solar and wind) to replace diesel generators, reducing fuel usage and cutting carbon emissions
  5. New ultra-clean generator technology developed by a collaboration of three UK technology companies which replaces diesel with bio-LPG, set to cut carbon, lower emissions, reduce noise and deliver major cost savings
  6. The world’s first retrofit on large construction equipment, allowing contractors to upgrade older machines to meet the latest emission standards, helping to reduce impacts across the whole HS2 project and across the construction industry
  7. The first infrastructure project to adopt the new advanced emissions identification scheme developed in collaboration with the Construction Equipment Association (CEA).
  8. Multiple Nixon Hire solar pods powering sites through harvesting and storing solar energy to minimise emissions, and EcoSmart ZERO cabins using a combination of solar and hydrogen fuel-cell technology to eliminate carbon emissions from construction sites
  9. Cutting emissions by transporting materials by freight train, with 15,000 freight trains set to move 10 million tonnes of aggregate for HS2 over next 10 years
  10. Strict requirements for all contractors to control and limit their dust, air pollution, odour and exhaust emissions during works.

HS2 Ltd’s Air Quality Lead, Andrea Davidson, said: “It’s vital that we improve air quality in our towns and cities. As construction work ramps up across Phase One, HS2 is working with our contractors, supply chain, UK manufacturers and academia to cut emissions by developing ways to reduce reliance on diesel and to promote the use of alternative technologies, such as full electric, renewables, hydrogen fuel-cell and hybrid technology.”

“Birmingham Clean Air Zone is also about encouraging people to change their transport habits. By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights and help the country’s push to reduce carbon emissions,” she added.

In 2017, road traffic accounted for 91 per cent of transport emissions. In the same year, cars, taxis and light vans were responsible for 70 per cent of road transport emissions. By moving high-speed trains on to a new, dedicated intercity line, HS2 will free up space on the existing rail network to run more local and regional commuter trains. With more reliable, local and frequent stopping services available, people will be able to make the shift from road to rail and cut their carbon footprint. This will help to reduce emissions from road transport, reduce congestion and improve the quality of the UK’s air.