Estimating Energy Consumption of Mobile Fluid Power in the United States

Lauren Lynch, Bradley Zigler

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report estimates the market size and energy consumption of mobile off-road applications utilizing hydraulic fluid power, and summarizes technology gaps and implementation barriers. Mobile fluid power is the use of hydraulic fluids under pressure to transmit power in mobile equipment applications. The mobile off-road fluid power sector includes various uses of hydraulic fluid power equipment with fundamentally diverse end-use application and operational requirements, such as a skid steer loader, a wheel loader or an agriculture tractor. The agriculture and construction segments dominate the mobile off-road fluid power market in component unit sales volume. An estimated range of energy consumed by the mobile off-road fluid power sector is 0.36 - 1.8 quads per year, which was 1.3 percent - 6.5 percent of the total energy consumed in 2016 by the transportation sector. Opportunities for efficiency improvements within the fluid power system result from needs to level and reduce the peak system load requirements and develop new technologies to reduce fluid power system level losses, both of which may be facilitated by characterizing duty cycles to define standardized performance test methods. There are currently no commonly accepted standardized test methods for evaluating equipment level efficiency over a duty cycle. The off-road transportation sector currently meets criteria emissions requirements, and there are no efficiency regulations requiring original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to invest in new architecture development to improve the fuel economy of mobile off-road fluid power systems. In addition, the end-user efficiency interests are outweighed by low equipment purchase or lease price concerns, required payback periods, and reliability and durability requirements of new architecture. Current economics, low market volumes with high product diversity, and regulation compliance challenge OEM investment in commercialization of new architecture development.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages30
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5400-70240


  • efficiency
  • mobile fluid power
  • off-road


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