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Sustainability in the Equipment Rental Industry: Products and Profitability

POWR2 POWRBANK Battery Energy Storage

The global shift towards sustainability presents a significant and expanding opportunity to profit within the equipment rental industry. Terms like “green,” “offset carbon footprint,” “renewable,” “environmentally-friendly,” “sustainable,” and “green initiatives” signify a powerful movement fueled by a rising demand for environmentally sound practices.

The drive for sustainability in the construction industry is gaining significant traction. This is clearly demonstrated by the 24,000+ members of the UN Global Compact, which includes construction leaders like Fluor, Granite, Skanska, and AECOM. These companies are prioritizing sustainability goals and actively looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions within their operations.

We increasingly find individuals and teams within client organizations devoted to sustainability, as indicated by titles like Sustainability Manager or ESG Team (Environmental, Social, and Governance). These stakeholders are eager for effective means to lessen the organization’s environmental footprint. This conscientious transformation extends far beyond construction. Large-scale events, from music festivals to international sporting competitions, are increasingly adopting sustainability policies and innovative solutions. Coachella’s “For Our Planet” pledge “to be an agent of change and create a festival that leaves a positive impact on our desert home and beyond” demonstrates a commitment to positive environmental impact in the events sector.

Opportunities in the Equipment Rental Sector

Having a fleet of sustainable rental equipment unlocks new revenue streams and growth opportunities by tackling a wider range of customer challenges. Equipment rental companies often have questions such as: What sustainable equipment options exist? How do they compare to traditional offerings, and which clients will adopt them?

Innovative products and strategies to consider:

Solar Light Towers

Wanco, a leading provider of portable lighting solutions, drives innovation in battery and solar technology sustainable products. In the latest Leading the Charge Podcast episode entitled Sustainability in the Rental Industry, Wanco showcased some of its sustainable products. The growing demand for clean energy solutions fuels Wanco’s success as they help reduce carbon emissions.

Cost Considerations

While the initial cost of solar LED towers may exceed that of traditional engine-powered models, the long-term savings potential is substantial. This is primarily due to the significantly reduced maintenance requirements of solar solutions.  Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, a common choice for solar light towers, offer extended lifespans compared to conventional batteries. The absence of engines, filters, belts, and fuel translates to a decrease in ongoing maintenance expenses. Furthermore, solar LED towers provide a completely emission-free lighting solution and can be equipped with timers for efficient power management.

Rental Rates

Rental rates for solar towers, while subject to variation, often align closely with diesel-powered alternatives.  This pricing becomes even more attractive when renters consider the reduced operating costs associated with solar options, potentially leading to a faster return on investment for rental companies.


Solar towers offer several benefits. These include powerful yet energy-efficient LED lighting, zero-emission operation, minimal noise output, self-regulating solar charging, and adjustable lights for targeted illumination.

Potential Considerations

As with any technology, it’s important to acknowledge potential trade-offs with solar towers. Meticulous system design is often necessary to guarantee sufficient power generation during winter months or extended periods of cloudy weather.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Pioneered by Welsh scientist William Grove in 1839, hydrogen fuel cells offer a long-established alternative power solution.  Their unique electrochemical process generates electricity without combustion and therefore has zero emissions.  Within a fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen react to produce electricity, heat, and water. Fuel cell systems provide a clean, efficient, reliable, and quiet source of power. Unlike batteries, fuel cells generate electricity continuously as long as a source of fuel is available.

Cost Considerations

While the initial cost of fuel cell systems typically exceeds that of traditional generators by a factor of three to four, the long-term benefits may justify the investment for environmentally conscious clients.

Rental Rates

Sydney Water, Australia’s largest water utility, partnered with John Holland to trial a hydrogen fuel cell generator for construction at the Upper South Creek Advanced Water Recycling Centre, reducing carbon emissions and noise pollution. Understanding the operating costs associated with this technology, and how they compare to traditional generators, will be an important consideration for clients. Rental rates and higher operating cost will be a key factor in client decisions.


Fuel cell systems boast zero-emission operation, continuous power generation (with fuel supply), and quiet operation.

Potential Considerations

The logistics of hydrogen storage and transport pose a potential challenge for the widespread adoption of fuel cell technology.

Battery Energy Storage

Battery energy storage products are gaining traction in the equipment rental market, as evidenced by their presence at the recent American Rental Association show (ARA). These large-capacity battery systems can operate independently or integrate with diesel generators and renewable energy sources for flexible power solutions. POWR2 specializes in these systems. Their primary application is often the optimization of diesel generator usage to drastically reduce generator runtime.

Generators must be sized for peak loads, leading to frequent oversized deployments and inefficient operation.  Incorporating battery storage addresses this by having the battery handle typical loads. Once the battery depletes, it signals the generator to start and recharge the battery.

Cost Considerations

Battery energy storage systems generally cost more than comparable diesel generators. This price difference stems partly from the type and quantity of batteries used. Lithium-ion batteries, with their compact size and superior lifespan, are the preferred choice for many rental companies.

Rental Rates

Rental rates for battery storage systems tend to be higher than those of diesel generators. However, clients can realize substantial savings in fuel costs, maintenance requirements, and labor due to reduced generator usage.


Battery energy storage systems provide versatile temporary power solutions, offering fuel savings, lower generator runtime, decreased maintenance needs, and quiet operation.

Potential Considerations

A key limitation of battery-based systems lies in their sensitivity to cold temperatures.  Performance can be compromised in colder climates, potentially requiring the addition of a heating system.

The trend toward sustainable products in the marketplace shows no signs of slowing. While some users may choose to delay purchases in hopes of future cost reductions, this strategy carries potential risks. Ongoing supply chain disruptions and widespread cost increases could offset any anticipated price drops in the sustainable product sector.

Discover how you can integrate Battery Energy Storage to your rental fleet today.
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