An electric vehicle (EV)-charging road was inaugurated in Sweden this April, allowing cars to connect to rail tracks on the road and recharge batteries while driving.
The project, named eRoad Arlanda, is described as 'globally unique' in sustainability and e-mobility, presenting an innovative charging solution for EVs. The road is currently designed to charge adapted trucks, but its usage is expected to be extended to cars and buses as well.
Approximately two kilometres of electrified rail, which is connected to the power grid, were installed in a road just outside Stockholm. The rail tracks are capable of transferring energy to the vehicle from the road through a movable arm attached to the vehicle.
Adapted vehicles can recognise that they are travelling on electrified roads. The arm can detect the rail as long as the vehicle is above it, so the driver of the EV would not need to lower the arm and fit it into the charging rail manually. The driver is then charged for the electricity pulled from the road to charge the EV battery.
In addition, the electric current does not stay on 24/7, but it is only activated when a fitted EV is driving past, making it safer for humans and animals and more energy efficient.
The project is part of initiatives to reduce carbon emissions by the Swedish government. The electrified road is a substantial step towards the government's commitment to have a fossil fuel-free transport system by 2030. Sweden aims to be completely carbon neutral by 2050.
“It is important to break new ground when it comes to climate-smart road transport. That’s why the Swedish Transport Administration supports innovative development projects that contribute to long-term, sustainable solutions,” says Lena Erixon, Director General of the Swedish Transport Administration.
The project was developed in partnership with companies such as Swedish utility Vattenfall, EV charging solutions provider Elways and e-mobility technologies developer e-Traction. The road will be trialled for two years using electric freight vehicles to test the feasibility of the project under different weather and road traffic conditions.
EV-charging road projects in Europe
Engerati has previously reported on projects using road charging as a solution for EVs.
In 2016, Siemens and truck manufacturer Scania began testing an electric highway for trucks in Sweden. The eHighway trial lets hybrid trucks, manufactured by Scania, draw power through an overhead power system similar to those used by streetcars and trams.
When the trucks are connected to the power lines, their internal combustion engines are switched off. The trucks will revert back to diesel once it is disconnected from the overhead system.
The system, combining a smart pantograph with hybrid vehicles, was also touted as a solution to significantly reduce road transport emissions. “With the eHighway, we’ve created an economically viable solution for climate-neutral freight transport by road. Our technology is an already existing and feasible alternative to trucks operating with internal combustion engines,” says Roland Edel, Chief Technology Officer of the Siemens Mobility Division.
The UK’s Highways England project, started in 2015, also tested the feasibility of wireless charging of EVs on the move. However, as of January this year, trials have been paused.
According to the European Environmental Agency, the transport sector contributed 25.8% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. However, excluding aviation and maritime emissions, the figure decreases to 21%. Transport emissions were 23% above 1990 levels, highlighting the need to thoroughly integrate e-mobility solutions into energy transition initiatives.