Marr Contracting in Australia uses Neste MY Renewable Diesel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the construction industry
It is no secret that countries across the world are in the race to a fossil fuel-free future. During the latest COP27, the deliberations sent a firm signal that indicated the phasedown of all fossil fuels is happening but simultaneously underlined the urgency to accelerate the transition to renewable fuels to mitigate the climate crisis and its impact.
Since August 2022, Marr Contracting (Marr), one of Neste’s customers in the construction industry, has been using Neste MY Renewable Diesel (also known as HVO100) in their heavy lift luffing tower crane fleet in Australia.
This is an important step towards the business’ journey to net-zero carbon emissions and supports Marr in its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the company’s impact on the environment. The milestone also marks a positive transition to renewable diesel for Australia’s construction sector.
Let’s take a closer look at the decarbonization efforts in Australia's construction industry.
Trends in Australia’s construction sector
According to a report from Lendlease, emissions from the construction sector contribute to around 23% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. 5.5% of these emissions are directly from the construction machinery and equipment powered by fossil fuel – specifically diesel. Findings from the World Economic Forum also suggested that the construction industry uses more diesel engines than any other sector, echoing similar sentiments from the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water of Australia.
The research showed that due to diesel fuel’s superior combination of energy density, performance and reliability, it is still the preferred fuel in the construction sector, powering more than 75% of all heavy construction equipment in Australia. That said, many existing diesel-powered construction machines could already run on biodiesel blends of up to 20% or even more advanced fuel options such as renewable diesel – an available drop-in alternative that is near-identical in the chemical constitution to fossil diesel and can be used as such, without being blended with fossil diesel at all.
These trends represent a growing interest in the transition to renewable fuels in the construction sector in Australia, specifically renewable diesel, and Marr is part of this transformation.
Impacts on Marr’s transition to renewable diesel
Recognizing the urgency to find an alternative drop-in solution to fossil diesel to power its fleet of heavy lift tower cranes, Marr worked with Neste to assess the use of renewable diesel in its cranes and navigated the importing process, with the first shipment to Marr arriving in the country in August 2022.
In November 2022, the New South Wales (NSW) Government announced that renewable diesel would be used in Marr’s cranes operating on the construction of two key NSW Government public infrastructure projects – the new Sydney Fish Markets (with Multiplex as the delivery partner) and Powerhouse Parramatta (with Lendlease as the design and construction partner).
The announcement came just months after the Australian Government passed the first climate change legislation in a decade, with the commitment to cut emissions by at least 43% by 2030 (compared with 2005) and reach net zero by 2050. This also signaled a positive development of the wider adoption of renewable diesel and the immediate need for these types of lower-emission fuels.
“There has been a lot of discussion about electrification, and whilst we acknowledge there is a place for electric cranes, we know they are not the only answer particularly when you look through the lens of productivity and the current availability of renewable energy in the Australian market,” said Simon Marr, Managing Director, Marr Contracting.
In Australia, although the capacity for renewable sources of energy including wind, solar and hydro power are growing; recent data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) highlighted that 79% of the power generated in the east coast of Australia over the past twelve months came from fossil fuels.
“After looking at the alternatives, we believe renewable diesel is the most sustainable power source currently available for the work that we are doing. That’s because it allows us to transition away from fossil diesel and maintain the speed, power and reliability of our cranes to drive productivity and cost-efficiencies on the projects we are working on – while at the same time helping our clients achieve their sustainability goals,” said Marr’s Managing Director, Simon Marr.
The response to renewable diesel in Australia has been well-received by a number of major Australian constructors committing to the use of renewable diesel on construction sites.
From a reliability and performance perspective, Marr reports that with renewable diesel, emissions are reduced and that they are seeing cleaner oil, engines and fuel filters during servicing of their cranes compared with fossil fuels and less-advanced biodiesel.
The importance and urgency of the shift to renewable fuels
The adoption of Neste MY Renewable Diesel can reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 90%* compared to fossil diesel over the life cycle of the fuel. Nevertheless, Neste believes that renewable fuels are not the silver bullet to the climate crisis, but instead are complementary to other industry decarbonization initiatives such as electrification. However, to reach full commercialization of electrification and other future decarbonization developments could still take a long time and the actual impact is not 100% visible at this stage.
“As cranage providers, we are only at the thin edge of the wedge in terms of what can be achieved to make our industry more productive and more sustainable. Although cranes are highly visible on construction sites, the amount of fuel used in operating them is almost insignificant in terms of overall consumption on a project. However, in acknowledging the emissions reduction targets of many of our clients and end-customers, we’re providing an implementable solution that can help them progress towards their sustainability goals through a direct reduction in our Scope 1 emissions,” Mr Marr said.
Marr is continuing to educate, encourage and support its Australian clients to adopt the use of renewable diesel as a viable alternative to fossil fuels and the electrification of cranes on construction sites.
There is no time to waste. We need immediate and concrete action to make progress towards mitigating climate change – and renewable fuels can contribute positively to the climate efforts, today.
*The GHG emission reduction percentage varies depending on the region-specific legislation that provides the methodology for the calculations (e.g. EU RED II 2018/2001/EU for Europe and US California LCFS for the US), and the raw material mix used to manufacture the product for each market.