Volvo Construction Equipment is rapidly moving forward with its plans to offer battery-powered heavy duty machines for commercial customers. Earlier this year, the company announced it was investing millions of dollars into expanding its manufacturing site in Changwon, South Korea, so it can make the battery packs for those heavy duty machines.
“As the largest plant in Volvo CE and the core site for excavator development and production, Changwon is at the forefront of our shift to a sustainable future,” said Andy Knight, managing director of Volvo Group Korea. “This investment is an important milestone in our electrification road map and supports our recent investments in production facilities for electric excavators. Changwon is ideally located close to battery module supply partners and other key suppliers in South Korea to meet the needs of customers in the future. We are also home to a highly skilled and motivated workforce who are fully committed to meeting our future environmental targets.”
According to Equipment World, “With its battery power, the (new Volvo CE 230 E) excavator is expected to achieve 60-70% reduction of energy running costs compared to the EC220. It is equipped with four 66-kilowatt lithium-ion battery packs that enable the operator to work four to five hours in general purpose applications. With a high-power fast charge on a lunch hour, the machine should last through a full eight hour shift.”
Volvo CE & WM Team Up
At the recent Waste Expo in New Orleans this week, Volvo CE said it will work with WM — the company formerly known as Waste Management — on a pilot project to test the all new the Volvo EC230 Electric excavator. The 23-ton machine represents a major advancement in the construction industry’s move toward zero-emission solutions.
WM, North America’s leading provider of comprehensive environmental solutions, will test the midsize electric excavator at a WM facility on the East Coast. The pilot will feature the EC230 Electric as it performs the same tasks diesel excavators do in waste applications. WM will track data and share feedback with Volvo CE.
In addition, a number of customers are scheduled to test the midsize electric excavator in various applications on the North American power grid. Volvo CE plans to make the machine commercially available in North America in 2024.
“This is the first pilot in North America but the EC230 Electric excavator has been thoroughly tested by customers overseas and, in each case, it has offered the same performance as its diesel equivalent with the added benefit of no direct emissions,” said Stephen Roy, president of Region North America, Volvo CE. “We’re excited to work with WM on a project that aligns with both of our organizations’ values of being good environmental stewards.”
For more than 20 years, WM has been committed to alternative fuel options, including compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric vehicles as well as other technologies to help reduce overall emissions. WM has some of the most ambitious sustainability goals in its industry, calling for a 42% reduction of its overall Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 2032, a target aligned with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5° C.
“WM has a long track record of incorporating alternative fuels into our operations, and we’re exploring technologies like electric that support our mission to reduce emissions,” said Bryan Tindell, vice president of disposal operations for WM. “We have a longstanding relationship with Volvo CE when it comes to working toward sustainable solutions related to alternative fuels and energy sources. This electric excavator is expected to improve machine uptime and increase productivity and our pilot could help map out the next steps for implementing additional electric and other sustainable technologies into our heavy equipment fleet.”
About The Volvo EC230
The 23-ton Volvo EC230 Electric excavator is a general purpose machine designed to run in the same applications as a comparably-sized diesel excavator, including extraction, earth moving, and grading for site preparation in the building segment, as well as waste and scrap handling in the recycling and waste segments.
It has the same digging forces and lifting capacities as its diesel equivalent in the Volvo CE lineup, and it supports the same attachments and services. The main difference is that it is powered by batteries. The lack of an engine results in zero direct emissions, less noise, reduced maintenance, and lower total cost of ownership.
When the EC230 Electric excavator becomes commercially available in 2024, it will join the Volvo CE lineup of 6 electric heavy duty construction machines — the largest such selection in the industry.
Two other battery-powered machines from Volvo CE — the ECR25 electric compact excavator and the L25 electric compact wheel loader — are now part of that lineup and are in commercial production after meeting every challenge in real world use during trials in Southern California. Both have received enthusiastic praise from those who used them at various job sites.
“Our customer’s response to these machines validates that there is not only a desire for these types of machines in North America but a pull in many markets,” says Stephen Roy. “This just adds further momentum to the Volvo vision of offering machines that align with science based climate targets and our overall commitment to decarbonization.”
“Electric construction equipment thus far has mostly been compact models, but to make the kind of progress we want toward a more sustainable future, larger machines need to be part of the equation,” Roy said. “Volvo CE is proud to be leading the industry into that future along with sustainability driven companies like WM.”
Charging Heavy Duty Battery-Electric Machines
So, how do you charge a battery-electric machine at a remote worksite far from the nearest electrical grid? Volvo CE has thought of that, and uses the Beam solar fast charger, an off-grid, no connection, free-standing solar charger that has a battery pack similar to the size of the one inside the Volvo L25 wheel loader. A nice benefit is that the solar panels are always at the correct angle because they follow the movement of the sun.
Two North American Type 1 charging plugs — the same as the ones used to charge electric vehicles — are available for 240 volt charging. The charging time is the same as on the 240 volt Level 2 AC setup (six hours). Keep in mind this is totally off-grid — no need to have any power cables running to it. You can simply charge your construction machines using the power of the sun, the company says.
For generations, the diesel engine has powered the world of construction machinery. Now the transition to machines powered by electrons instead of molecules has begun in earnest. Volvo CE is a leader in the transition, but is joined by several other heavy equipment manufacturers. For companies like WM, it ‘s all about lower operating costs, but the elimination of the pollution that spews from the exhaust pipes of all those diesel engines will benefit everyone.
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