Sweden is making headlines for a brilliant environmentally conscious move: electric roads. They just opened a two kilometer test stretch in Sandviken on the E16 where electric vehicles can connect to an overhead system similar to light rail. They are now among the first countries globally to test electric power on public roads for “heavy transports.” The move could bring them closer towards the country’s goal of operating a fossil fuel-free fleet by 2030.
The electric road system, which is similar to a light rail, allows trucks to run on electric power while on the unique road, and then on regular roads they operate as hybrid vehicles. On the electric road, trucks gain power from a pantograph which connects to power lines overhead. Not only does this allow the trucks to run on clean energy, but enables them to avoid recharging quite as much. Automotive company Scania is supplying the hybrid trucks, which also run on biofuel. Scania researcher Nils-Gunnar Vågstedt said electrification could result in sizable fuel savings.
Swedish Transport Administration Director General Lena Erixon said, “Electric roads will bring us one step closer to fossil fuel-free transports, and has the potential to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions. This is one way of developing environmentally smart transports in the existing road network. It could be a good supplement to today’s road and rail network.”
The testing will go on until 2018 and allow Sweden to see how the technology functions in the real world. Along with the transport administration, Sweden’s energy and sustainable growth agencies will help fund the project. Scania and Siemens, who developed the conductive technology, will also help pay. Region Gävleborg will act as the project coordinator.
Swedish Energy Agency Director-General Erik Brandsma said, “Electric roads are one more piece of the puzzle in the transport system of the future, especially for making the heavy transport section fossil fuel-free over the long term.”