12 April, 2018
Sweden has opened the world’s first electrified road. The 1.2-mile route, between Stockholm Arlanda airport and a logistics site, will now actively charge cars and lorries as they travel along it using an innovative energy transfer system.
Hybrid trucks specially fitted with a device called a ‘pantograph power collector’ can drive underneath the lines and tap into the power. When connected to the lines, they run completely on electricity.
The electrified road works by transferring energy from the rail through a moveable arm on the bottom of an electric car or truck.
As the vehicle moves over the rail, the arm detects its location and moves into contact with it. When overtaking, the arm automatically raises.
The rail is connected to the power grid and divided into sections that are only powered when vehicles move over them.
Energy consumption of each vehicle passing over the rails is calculated by the system, enabling electricity costs to be charged to each user. The electrified road is being trialled using electrified trucks that have been developed as part of the project.
“One of the most important issues of our time is the question of how to make fossil-free road transportation a reality,” said Hans Säll, chairman of the eRoadArlanda consortium, which is responsible for the project. “We now have a solution that will make this possible, which is amazing. Sweden is at the cutting edge of this technology, which we now hope to introduce in other areas of the country and the world.
The advantage of electrifying roads is that existing infrastructure can have its energy consumption and carbon emissions reduced with minimal modification.
Sweden is already a world leader in clean energy, and in 2015 Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced his country would move towards becoming “one of the first fossil fuel-free welfare states in the world”.
The project being run by eRoadArlanda is one of several attempts by the Swedish Transport Administration, a government agency, to create electrified roads. It is part of a wider effort by the Swedish government to make the country’s transport infrastructure completely fossil fuel-free by 2030. As it stands, road traffic accounts for a third of Sweden’s carbon emissions.
“It is important to break new ground when it comes to climate-smart road transport,” said Lena Erixon, director general of the administration. That’s why the Swedish Transport Administration supports innovative development projects that contribute to long-term, sustainable solutions.”
Those behind the initiative estimate that only the major routes – around 3 per cent of the total road network – would need to be modified to considerably cut carbon emissions. Shorter journeys between these major routes could be undertaken using vehicles’ stored battery power.