World’s first public ‘electric road’ for charging in Sweden
On Wednesday Sweden has opened the ‘eRoadArlanda’, a stretch of two kilometre public road equipped with an electric rail in the middle of the driving lane to allow electric vehicles to charge while driving with a sort of upside down pantograph. It would be easier to implement and cheaper than charging by induction.
The road connects the international freight airport of Stockholm Arlanda with the distribution centre at Rosersberg. To start only full electric postal trucks of PostNord will use the eRoad system, but it will be opened up for commercial and private use later.
Power rail into road surface
The eRoad is a government supported project with a consortium of Swedish companies around Elways, experimenting since 2009 with charging electric vehicles while driving and construction company NCC delivering the technology for embedding the power rail into the road surface.
The principle is quite simple as the electric power is delivered through a metal rail embedded into the asphalt and a moveable arm under the truck making contact while driving over it. When the truck moves away from its lane, the arm is retracted.
Only 2 to 4% of road network to be electrified
According to NCC only 2 to 4% of the road network would be needed to electrify in the future as electric vehicles can fall back on their batteries between electrified roads where they can recharge while driving. The Swedish say embedding the rail into the existing roads is quite feasible and socially and economically justifiable at a rate of electrifying 1 km of road per hour.
Sweden wants to be one of the first countries to be totally independent of fossil fuels by 2030. “Everybody knows that climate change asks for new efforts. This project is one way of finding solutions”, Swedish Minister for Infrastructure Tomas Eneroth said at the opening of eRoadArlanda.
30% of CO2 by traffic
Today 30% of carbon dioxide emissions in Sweden comes from traffic, with goods transport accounting for one-third of it. Consultancy company WSP calculated that by 2030 two thirds of freight transportation in Sweden could be done by electric trucks using electric roads, reducing energy use by 10 TWh.
The Swedish energy agency together with Volvo Group and French train builder Alstom are testing near Göteborg another alternative for electric vehicles charging by contact with the road, a system that was developed by Alstom for a catanary-free tram.
Dynamic charging by induction
Worldwide there are experiments with other types of ‘eRoads’ using induction to charge electric vehicles while driving without the need to make physical contact with the electric power line embedded in the road.
Like American electronics giant Qualcomm, together with VEDECOM and Renault testing dynamic charging by induction up to speeds of 100 km per hour on a 100 m test track near Versailles (France).