ERA Convention takes on green transition

By Belinda Smart20 June 2022

To deal with carbon emissions and other factors affecting climate change, the construction equipment rental industry needs “to completely reverse the path we’ve been on.” 

Jacopo Brunelli, Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group, made that statement at the European Rental Convention in Riga last week.

He also spoke of a “decade of disruption” as the energy transition takes place.

Jacopo Brunelli, Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group, addresses attendees at the European Rental Convention 2022. (Photo: IRN)

The theme of the 2022 European Rental Convention was ‘Rental in Transition’, with a focus on ‎energies of the future, the European Green Deal and the role of the equipment rental industry in ‎the green transition.

Brunelli was one of an expert speaker line-up looking at the impact of the transition on the rental industry at the convention in Riga, Latvia on 15 and 16 June.

Speaking on day one, 15 June, he said key instruments of the Fit for 55 bill - the EU’s target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 - would significantly affect the construction industry.

“Companies are under pressure from multiple stakeholders to commit to Net Zero targets” said Brunelli, who confirmed that investors were among them, with $8.5 billion of financial assets tied to Net Zero policies by market-leading funds.

The talent war was also signalling ever growing demand from job-seekers, with 40% of millennials choosing the company they work for based on sustainability performance, he said.

Alex Woodrow of consultancy Knibb, Gormezano and Partners, presented on ‘State of play and trends in the energy transition’ and confirmed that, “The non-road sector is electrifying rapidly, and moving into heavier types of equipment as the drive for low carbon living intensifies.”

He said challenges for the construction equipment sector in adopting green technologies included lower volumes compared to the automotive sector, widely segmented customer demands, the need for durability, limited infrastructure and rising battery prices.

However, opportunities included new OEM entrants, optimised energy usage, new business models, infrastructure and charging investment and the idea of energy as a service, Woodrow said.

Domenico Campogrande, FIEC – European Construction Industry Federation, said despite recent troubles including the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, there were opportunities to use a strong recovery in the EU to drive the green transition. He also said there could be potential to participate in the rebuilding of Ukraine at the appropriate time.

Day one of the convention also featured a panel discussion with OEMs on the impact of new energy technologies on rental, which included a discussion on hydrogen power. Tim Burnhope, Chief Innovation Officer of JCB, said hydrogen offered advantages such as the fact that it was a “mobile fuel” that had benefits for areas lacking an electricity infrastructure.

A presentation at the ERA Convention 2022. (Photo: IRN)

On low carbon power generally Tora Leifland, Director - Responsible Business at Volvo Construction Equipment, said working with customers to explore the availability of financial incentives would be critical.

On day two, 16 June, Søren Hermansen, Director of the Samsø Energy Academy in Denmark, concluded the convention with his keynote speech – Samsø - a circular economy community! – explaining how a Danish island of 3,800 inhabitants became 100% self-sufficient through renewable energy.

He spoke about “commonity” - a fusion of common values and community – demonstrated by initiatives on Samsø such as the fact that people living near wind turbines on Samsø were invited to invest in them.

It was important to create compelling narratives that lead to action, he said.

“Human beings exist in language conversations, stories and narratives. Human beings invent their worlds with conversations and actions. Organisations are networks of conversations of commitments for taking action and producing results.”

The 2022 ERA Convention took place from 15-16 June at the Radisson Blu Latvija Conference & Spa Hotel in Riga Latvia. More than 300 participants attended the Convention and the European Rental Awards ceremony on 15 June.

International Rental News’ upcoming July/August edition will feature a detailed report on the Convention and Awards.

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