The world’s first ‘electric road’ went on trial in Sweden on Wednesday (22) June, aiming to halve energy consumption and eliminate local emissions.
It consists of 2km of overhead power lines on the E16 motorway outside the city of Gävle, close to the Baltic in central Sweden.
Lorries connect to overhead power lines via a pantograph
The system is similar to the overhead power supply for rail lines and involves lorries with pantographs connecting to overhead contact lines and drawing power from them.
The project is a collaboration between Region Gävleborg (the regional authority), with funding from the Swedish Government, technology firm Siemens and truckmaker Scania.
It is ‘the first electric highway on public road in the world,’ the regional authority said.
The purpose of the section is to perform a two-year test of how the infrastructure works functions under normal traffic conditions and different weather conditions
Eva Lindberg, chair of Region Gävleborg, said the electric road would lead to significant development for the entire county and had attracted interest from many other counties.
‘I am incredibly proud of our success with Project E16 Electric Road, and now we are really at the forefront of the work on climate and environment. The E16 Electric Road is a symbol of environmental care, quality of life, cooperation and innovation,’ she said.
According to Siemens, the pantograph can be easily connected to and disconnected from the contact wire, either automatically or at the push of a button, at speeds ranging from 0 to 90 kmh.
The company said steering a lorry connected to the overhead lines is no different from driving a normal diesel lorry, as the active pantograph compensates for any shifts in position within the lane and automatically disconnects in the event of evasive manoeuvres or if the vehicle’s indicators are used.
It said lorries using the new system, which operate as hybrid vehicles when not on the electric road, reduce energy consumption by half, as well as eliminating local emissions.
The Swedish Government has set a goal for the country’s vehicles to be fossil-fuel free by 2030.
Siemens is currently constructing similar scheme in California in collaboration with Volvo Group. This will be two miles long and is due to open by the end of the year.