Why should we invest in electrified roads? The answer is easy: we want to contribute to sustainable infrastructure.
Why electrified roads?
The use of fossil fuels must be reduced, and quickly. Meanwhile, road transportation is expected to increase 59 percent by 2030.
To reduce carbon emissions, several solutions must be combined: such as biofuels, electrification and energy optimization. By electrifying roads, existing infrastructure can be utilized to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Road traffic in Sweden accounts for 33 percent of carbon emissions, one-third of which is attributable to freight traffic. It is estimated that two-thirds of truck transportation in Sweden could be carried out on electrified roads by 2030, which would reduce energy consumption by approximately 10 TWh, corresponding to three million tons of fuel.
One of the socioeconomic factors is that only the major routes, meaning 2 to 4 percent of the road network, needs to be electrified. Shorter journeys between these routes can be managed with battery power. In addition to the considerable savings for the environment, electrified roads would result in a lower total cost compared with current fossil-fuel vehicles.
80 to 90 percent reduction in carbon emissions
Electrified-road transport cuts fossil emissions by 80 to 90 percent and is a climate-smart and inexpensive method of combining the advantages of rail with the flexibility of trucks. Operating costs will be minimal, due to significant reductions in energy consumption arising from the use of efficient electric engines. Electricity is also a cleaner, quieter and less expensive source of energy, compared with diesel.
Electric-powered vehicles are nothing new
In simpler terms, there are two methods for powering vehicles with electricity: stored battery power and direct feeds while in motion. Both of these methods are more than a hundred years old. Battery-powered cars had already generated considerable interest by the late 1800s and trams are still in use in many cities. Trains and subways are mostly electrified.
So the question is: why haven’t electric vehicles made a complete breakthrough? The use of suspended tram cables was regarded as a hindrance and the development of battery technology has been slow compared with that of gasoline and diesel engines, which have become exceptionally efficient today. Fossil fuels have also been quite inexpensive for some time.
Did you know that?
As early as 1900, Ferdinand Porsche launched a hybrid vehicle with an internal combustion engine that powered two electric engines, which in turn propelled the front wheels. In other words, the first electric cars were created more than 100 years ago and they were the vehicles that dominated the roads in the US until about 1915. Read more ›
The challenges of using battery power
Even the best batteries are capable of storing only a fraction of the energy compared with the energy content of diesel, for example. This makes driving longer distances more difficult. A car can be filled with 60 liters of fuel in two minutes, while the recharging of batteries requires a far longer time or a very high current.
To meet the challenges of an electric vehicle’s short range, eRoadArlanda is combining battery power with direct power feeds while in motion. On the minor roads, which form the majority of the road network, the vehicles will run on batteries, while on the major and frequently used roads, the batteries will be recharged continuously.
Consequently, battery-powered vehicles would only need to be designed to be driven within a section of road with an electrical feed. Vehicles can be recharged at fixed points within these sections, such as at home, at work or at a shopping mall. This allows for the optimal function of the electric vehicles, since long-distance driving will not be required until the vehicle enters a major roadway where it is recharged during operation.
For very long distances, electricity is superior to present-day systems with internal-combustion vehicles. If the system were to be implemented in Europe, it would be possible to drive from the North Cape in Northern Norway to Malaga in Southern Spain without stopping to refuel.
Sweden’s road network
Sweden has approximately 2,000 kilometers of European highways and county roads. If these were to be laid out as a grid across Sweden, the grid size would be about 45 kilometers.