World’s first electric highway

Renewables are critical to the future of efficient, clean transportation. Sweden just opened the world’s first electric highway article tells that Sweden’s electric long-haul trucks are finally up and running. A pilot study on that first mile is currently underway in the town of Sandviken. The system, which is the first of its kind to open on a public road, will be tested over the next two years with two diesel hybrid trucks on a 1.2 mile-stretch of the E16 highway, located north of Stockholm. Here is picture of the systems from Siemens press release:

After several years of development with the global electronics manufacturer Siemens, Sweden has installed more than a mile of electric cables over the slow lane on one of its main highways. The project is a collaboration between Siemens and Scania to make an eHighway that is twice as efficient as conventional engines. The aim is to cut CO2 as transport accounts for more than one third of Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions. Scania official Claes Erixon has said that the project is “one important milestone on the journey towards fossil-free transport.” Cleantech Canada quotes an unnamed Siemens representative, who says the move could cut energy consumption in half. Trucks equipped with the system draw power from the overhead catenary wires as they drive, enabling them to travel efficiently and with zero local emissions (total emissions depends how the electricity is generated).

An “eHighway” that allows hybrid trucks to connect to overhead power lines. The overhead lines are needed because massive trucks have different energy requirements than ordinary sedans that can run on batteries some distance. The the solution for long distance transportation hook the trucks up to some sort of external power source – in this case overhead lines. German engineering company Siemens and Swedish truck manufacturer Scania developed the technology for the highway. For the electrified lanes to work, all trucks must be electric-diesel hybrids, since they still need an engine to drive on other roads. The lines are supplied by Siemens and the trucks, which are fitted with hybrid electric diesel motors, are made by Scania. Electric Road E16 programme in Gävle financing consists of about SEK 77 million in public money, with about SEK 48 million in co-financing from the business community and the Gävleborg regional authority (total around 13 million euros).

Siemens Electrification of road freight transport page has description of the used system. The concept for electrification of road freight traffic consists of three core elements: the energy supply, the pantograph, and hybrid drive technology. The energy supply system is based on proven technology from the world of railroad electrification. The two-pole catenary system ensures a reliable energy supply for the eHighway truck.  The overhead lines are fairly high up, 5.28 metres to be exact, which is well above the height of any lorry or truck allowed on the roads here, so normal traffic continues here as usual.

The overhead contact lines are supplied with energy from substations equipped with: medium voltage switchgear, power transformers, rectifiers and controlled inverters (for feedback of the electric energy generated by the vehicles’ regenerative braking). The overhead supply voltage seems to be 700V DC according the information collected from from Siemens and Scania documents. According to IEEE Spectrum article Sweden Tests Electric Roads to Give EVs Unlimited Range  the overhead wires provide 750 volts of direct current. That 700-750V  DC voltage is around same voltage range as used in third rail powered locomotives, subway trains and trams powered from overhead lines.

Some of the lorries will have a device called a pantograph that can be extended from the driver’s cabin and attached to the electric cables, fuelling the engine. The active pantograph transmits the energy from the overhead contact lines to the electric motor of the eHighway truck. Active pantograph compensates for any shifts in position within the lane, and the system works  woks at speeds 0 to 90 km/h. Siemens says the key innovation is the “intelligent” pantograph, which allows the trucks to connect to the catenary system while travelling at 90km/h. Siemens eHighway video of the operation of pantograph:

The truck itself is a hybrid electric, with a 360 horsepower motor that runs on both biofuel and a 5-kilowatt-hour lithium battery pack that provides enough juice to go about three kilometers. All the Scania trucks on the road are hybrid and Euro 6-certified, running on biofuel. The truck receives electrical power from a pantograph power collector that is mounted on the frame behind its cab. The trucks can freely connect to and disconnect from the overhead wires while in motion. When the truck goes outside the electrically-powered lane, the pantograph is disconnected and the truck is then powered by the combustion engine or the battery- operated electric motor.

Technical parameters of the Scania vehicle:

Truck model: Scania G 360 4×2, weight 9.0 ton
Powertrain: Parallell hybrid, integrated in the   gearbox (GRS895)
Engine: 9-litre, 360 hp (runs on biofuel)
Electric motor: 130kW, 1050Nm
Battery: Li-Ion 5 kWh (gives a driving range up to   3 km when not running on the e-way)
System voltage: 700V

What are the future plans for this system? Once the test is complete, teams will analyze the data to see if it’s possible, and economically viable, to administer further deployment in the future. Sweden sees the eHighway system as one way of reducing carbon emissions without building more railways, helping make informed infrastructure decisions, with the goal of a completely fossil fuel–free vehicle fleet by 2030.

It is still just a test stretch of two kilometres, but the hope is that it can be extended, perhaps the whole way from Gävle on the coast, to Borlänge, an industrial town some 110 kilometres inland. According to Ernström, extending the test to longer stretches of road is not too far off. “It’s fewer years than most people expect. Because we have proven that it can be done, it is not science fiction. Now we just need to look into the economy of the project and how will we finance it. The calculations we’ve done so far show that if we would electrify the whole of the E16 roadway, some 200 kilometres (both ways), there would be a return on the investment in maybe 7 or 8 years, from existing traffic,” he said.

This test is also a precursor to another electric highway planned to open for testing in California in 2017 where Siemens is also collaborating with Volvo. This California eHighway system will be installed on a traffic-clogged artery leading to the Port of Los Angeles.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    For comparison some rail application powering needs at same voltage level:

    Helsinki City Council decided to build a long-awaited express tramway Keilanimemeen Itäkeskus Espoo. Tie Joker length of 25 kilometers and electrified by fifteen feeding station.

    Trolleys running on rails 750 volt DC electricity. Trailers stream is fed along the contact wires and rails as return circuit. The solution is a typical and familiar, for example, metros and trams.

    Electricity supply stations are located at intervals of about 1.8 kilometers. Overhead contact line passes at an altitude of 5.5 meters.

    The aim is that the track-Joker runs 70 kilometers per hour speed rails in 2021.


  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fast battery charging technology for electric buses

    Electric power giant ABB has developed a battery charging technology
    The new charging technology is becoming deliveries. ABB has won a total value of more than 16 million US dollar orders for the Geneva public transport operator TPG

    ABB will supply and install 13 fast charge status of the city bus route, as well as three and four terminal depot charging stations.

    The buses batteries can be recharged in 15 seconds at the bus stop 600 kilowatts of charging current. Three to four minutes in a sustainable additional charge batteries can be completely filled.

    A new charging technology has been developed in Switzerland.


  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sweden Just Announced World’s First Electric Road That Charges Cars As They Drive

    Sweden is paving the way for renewable energy after debuting the world’s first vehicle-charging electrified road

    It works by recharging the electrical batteries of vehicles as they drive along the road, using a technology called conductive charging. According to project overseers eRoadArlanda, electricity is supplied via conductors embedded in the road.

    The vehicle is connected to an electrified rail and, as long as the vehicle is above the rail, a movable arm transfers power from the rail to the vehicle’s battery.

    “There is no electricity on the surface. There are two tracks, just like an outlet in the wall. Five or 6 centimeters [2 or 2.4 inches] down is where the electricity is,” eRoadArlanda chief executive Hans Säll told The Guardian. “But if you flood the road with salt water then we have found that the electricity level at the surface is just one volt. You could walk on it barefoot.”

    While other nations are developing similar systems and technologies, Sweden’s announcement is the “first of its kind” to allow both commercial and passenger vehicles the opportunity to recharge while driving.

    For now, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of electric rail have been installed outside of Stockholm.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    World’s first electrified road for charging vehicles opens in Sweden

    Stretch of road outside Stockholm transfers energy from two tracks of rail in the road, recharging the batteries of electric cars and trucks

    About 2km (1.2 miles) of electric rail has been embedded in a public road near Stockholm, but the government’s roads agency has already drafted a national map for future expansion.

    Energy is transferred from two tracks of rail in the road via a movable arm attached to the bottom of a vehicle. The design is not dissimilar to that of a Scalextric track, although should the vehicle overtake, the arm is automatically disconnected.

    The electrified road is divided into 50m sections, with an individual section powered only when a vehicle is above it.

    When a vehicle stops, the current is disconnected. The system is able to calculate the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be debited per vehicle and user.

    At a cost of €1m per kilometre, the cost of electrification is said to be 50 times lower than that required to construct an urban tram line.

    Säll said: “There is no electricity on the surface. There are two tracks, just like an outlet in the wall. Five or six centimetres down is where the electricity is. But if you flood the road with salt water then we have found that the electricity level at the surface is just one volt. You could walk on it barefoot.”

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Making Infinite Range Electric Car, to Save the Planet

    Everyone should be aware of our impact on the planet and our potential DOOM! I want everyone to switch to electric cars, and a virtually infinite range would interest the buyers. Let’s do it!

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Electreon, Ford Developing In-Road Charging System Near Mobility Tech Hub

    Ford Motor Co. is working with Israeli startup Electreon to construct a mile-long road near Detroit’s Michigan Central Terminal that will charge electric vehicles as they travel on it.

    The pilot program will deploy an inductive in-road charging system in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Michigan Office of Future Mobility and Electrification and the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

    “We are proud and thankful to be selected by the Michigan Department of Transportation to lead and implement the first wireless electric road system in the United States,” said Stefan Tongur, vice president of Electreon.

    Electreon’s technology can wirelessly charge EVs whether they are moving or stationary. This project will be one of the first to be installed on public roads in the United States.

    The company currently has pilot projects in Germany, Sweden and Italy. Recently it signed an agreement to develop a plug-free charging network for 200 transit buses in Tel Aviv.

    Inductive charging has the potential to ease range anxiety for EVs owners and reduce their cost of charging at home or at public charging stations.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What Happened To Sweden’s Slot Car EV Road?

    Many EVs can charge 80% of their battery in a matter of minutes, but for some applications range anxiety and charge time are still a concern. One possible solution is an embedded electrical rail in the road like the [eRoadArlanda] that Sweden unveiled in 2016.

    Overhead electrical wires like those used in trolleys have been around since the 1800s, and there have been some tests with inductive coils in the roadway, but the 2 km [eRoadArlanda] takes the concept of the slot car to the next level. The top of the rail is grounded while the live conductor is kept well underground beneath the two parallel slots. Power is only delivered when a vehicle passes over the rail with a retractable contactor, reducing danger for pedestrians, animals, and other vehicles.

    One of the big advantages of this technology being in the road bed is that both passenger and commercial vehicles could use it unlike an overhead wire system that would require some seriously tall pantographs for your family car. Testing over several Swedish winters shows that the system can shed snow and ice as well as rain and other road debris.

    Unfortunately, the project’s website has gone dark, and the project manager didn’t respond when we reached out for comment. If there are any readers in Sweden with an update, let us know in the comments!

    We’ve covered both overhead wire and embedded inductive coil power systems here before if you’re interested in EV driving with (virtually) unlimited range.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Liki 200 miljoonan hanke osoittautui sudeksi – Nyt Saksa purkaa sähkörekkojen virtajohtoviritykset
    Sähkörekkojen kallis virtajohtokokeilu on osoittautumassa sudeksi Saksassa.


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