Overhead power lines are to be installed above a section of a Swedish public highway in order to provide power to trucks in an experiment designed to reduce emissions from freight transportation in future.
The two-kilometre section of Sweden’s E16 highway north of Stockholm has been equipped with Siemens’ eHighway technology that claims to be twice as energy efficient as a conventional internal combustion engine.
"Not only is energy consumption cut by half, but local air pollution is reduced too," said Roland Edel, Chief Engineer at the Siemens Mobility Division.
The trial, which will last for two years, is the first of its kind in the world. Two diesel hybrid vehicles by Scania have been adapted for the trial.
The trucks have had an intelligent pantograph fitted, which connects and disconnects from the overhead line. While connected, the trucks operate in a zero emission mode. However, they can promptly switch into the diesel-powered mode once they leave the section of the highway equipped with the power line.
The trucks can also be modified to run on natural gas or a battery instead of diesel.
Sweden hopes the technology will take the country closer to its goal of freeing the transport sector from fossil fuels by 2030.
“By far the greatest part of the goods transported in Sweden goes on the road, but only a limited part of the goods can be moved to other traffic types,” explained Anders Berndtsson, chief strategist at the Swedish Transport Administration.
“That is why we must free the trucks from their dependence on fossil fuels, so that they can be of use also in the future. Electric roads offer this possibility and are an excellent complement to the transport system.”
Even though moving cargo transport from trucks to trains may seem like the more obvious and simpler solution, Siemens says it would not be enough due to the growth in freight transport.
Siemens is currently developing another eHighway demonstration project in California in cooperation with Volvo.