HS2 has trialled solar and hydrogen-powered welfare cabins across its work locations run by enabling and main works civils joint ventures CSjv (Costain, Skanska) and SCSjv (Skanska Costain STRABAG) including Camden, West Ruislip and Uxbridge in a major step towards greener construction sites.
Set to be rolled out further across the HS2 project, the EasyCabin EcoSmart ZERO product is the world’s first solar and hydrogen powered welfare unit, combining solar and hydrogen power to eliminate carbon emissions from construction sites.
Data gathered from 16 of the new cabins over a 21 week period on HS2 sites in Camden, Ruislip and Uxbridge showed that 112 tonnes of carbon were saved – the equivalent of what would be absorbed by over 3,367 trees over a whole year. In comparison, a standard diesel generator running would have used 40,000 litres of diesel fuel.
HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson visited HS2’s construction site at West Ruislip on Thursday 24 September to see the solar cabins in situ. At this site, a haul road is being constructed to link to the portal of the Northolt Tunnel West where two Tunnel Boring Machines will be launched in 2022.
He said: “As we build back better from Covid-19, it is great to see how HS2 Ltd is using first class solar and hydrogen powered staff welfare pods to cut carbon emissions while supporting workers on its construction sites.
“Not only are these British-made pods supporting hundreds of jobs, but it is a great example of how HS2 is realising our ambition to be one of the most environmentally-responsible projects ever delivered in the UK, as we transition to carbon net zero by 2050.”
The hydrogen technology has been developed by scientists at Loughborough University. With zero emissions, solar and hydrogen power replaces traditional diesel power systems and reduces the overall carbon footprint of a construction site, and more importantly, improves the environment for communities in the vicinity of operation. The unit is near silent and emits only pure water vapour.
The cabins provide a kitchen, seating area, separate toilet and changing room for workers, with the power to run the heating, sockets, kettle and microwave coming instantly from the battery bank which is constantly fed by the built-in hydrogen fuel cell and solar panels.