Liebherr: battery electric not a universal solution

By Andy Brown10 June 2022

Liebherr’s L 507 Stereo Wheeled loader

A study conducted on behalf of the Liebherr Group on greenhouse gas emissions of typical construction machines has shown that there is no uniform solution for climate-neutral drives of construction machines, that different machines are better suited to different power options.

Consulting firm Frontier Economics conducted a life cycle analysis of greenhouse gas emissions of typical construction machines equipped with various drive technologies to understand how much CO2 arises from production to operation through to the recycling of the machines.

The study looked at mobile cranes, truck mixers and wheeled loaders.

Liebherr says that emissions analyses are generally limited to the operating phase but greenhouse gas emissions also occur in the upstream and downstream phases of construction machines’ lifecycles. To get a more accurate picture the analysis looked at all stages of the life cycle, including the production of energy and provision of the infrastructure.

“The results of the life cycle analysis show that there is no uniform solution for climate-neutral drives of construction machines,” said Stephen Albrecht, Member of the Board of Directors of Liebherr-International AG.

The study suggested that for truck mixers electric drives make the biggest contribution to emissions reductions provided they use 100 percent renewable electricity for charging.

The potential for saving CO2 emissions is highest in mobile cranes with HVO drive. In the study, an LTM 1160-5.2 mobile crane was used

For mobile cranes, operation with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) showed the biggest savings potential although it is important that the HVO is certified to be produced from plant and food waste and does not contain palm oil.

Hydrogen made from CO2 neutral sources was in second place. In the long term, operation with hydrogen could become preferred as the availability of HVO in the vast quantities required is uncertain.

Wheeled loaders should be operated either with a battery electric drive charged with renewable electricity, or with e-fuels.

Liebherr says that the results show that a technology neutral approach is key, adding that battery electric should not be viewed as a universal solution, but as one important technology in the future drive mix.

“Effective climate targets and incentives for the construction machinery sector must enable technological diversity so that the most environmentally friendly technology can be used depending on the performance requirements,” adds Albrecht.

Liebherr has equipment with zero-emission drive technology, such as the crawler excavator R 976-E, which is supplied with electricity via cable, all-electric truck mixers ETM 1005 and ETM 1205, whose batteries are charged between travel to and from the jobsite or overnight and the world’s first battery-operated crawler crane, the LR 1250.1 unplugged.

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