“Why should we invest in electrified roads? The answer is easy: we want to contribute to sustainable infrastructure. By electrifying roads, existing infrastructure can be utilized to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions,” writes eRoad Arlanda on their website. Aside from reducing vehicular greenhouse gas emissions, electrification of roads also aims to facilitate achieving energy independence from fossil fuel.
The consortium behind the electrification project, eRoad Arlanda, in cooperation with logistics firm PostNord, has recently opened the world’s first electrified road in Stockholm, Sweden. The electrified road spans a length of two kilometers that enable charging of electric vehicles en route – also called “dynamic charging.”
The project was executed on the road linking Stockholm Arlanda Airport and a logistics site, representing a high-traffic shipping route. Due to its constant flow of shipping trucks that load and unload containers and cargo, the road was selected for the pilot project. The Swedish government has already provided a draft of national map for possible expansion.
How it Works?
The technology enables charging en route by transferring electricity from rails embedded on the road to the electric vehicle using the latter’s movable arm. Aside from energy transfer, this movable arm also functions in detecting the location of the rail in the road. When the vehicle overtakes the rails, the arm is automatically raised to cut the contact. That is, the vehicle is powered and charged only when it is above the rail. The energy consumption of a vehicle is also automatically calculated to feedback costs.
Benefits and Safety
eRoad Arlanda CEO Hans Säll believes the technology is also very safe: “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.”
With charging of electric vehicles en route, their batteries can be designed smaller in comparison with charging in fixed stations. Smaller batteries mean lighter weight, cheaper electric vehicles. And subsequently, more electric car buyers. The technology can also be applied to current vehicles and roadways through some modifications should an expansion pushes through.
How Much Would It Cost?
The estimated cost for this electrifying roads technology is about €1000 per kilometer. The total distance required for electrification? Hans Säll says, “If we electrify 20,000km of highways that will definitely be enough. The distance between two highways is never more than 45km and electric cars can already travel that distance without needing to be recharged. Some believe it would be enough to electrify 5,000km.”