With northern Europe and Scandinavia constantly on the forefront of energy saving and emission reduction, it comes as no surprise that the world’s first electric highway has been opened in Sweden. Covering a 13-mile (22-kilometer) stretch of the E16 highway, which connects Gävle, Sweden to Oslo, Norway, the electric strip has been fitted with overhead powerlines by Siemens, which connect to hybrid trucks. Similar to tram lines (or bumper cars, if you’re feeling playful) the trucks, by Scania, are fitted with a current collector to convert the electricity to power the motors in a bid to increase time between refueling or recharging. When not using electricity, the Scania trucks are powered by biofuel.
“Electric roads will bring us one step closer to fossil fuel-free transports, and has the potential to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions,” says Lena Erixon, director general of transport authority Trafikverket. “This is one way of developing environmentally smart transports in the existing road network. It could be a good supplement to today’s road and rail network.”
“Electric roads are one more piece of the puzzle in the transport system of the future, especially for making the heavy transport section fossil fuel-free over the long term,” Erik Brandsma, director general of the Swedish Energy Agency, explains. Currently, road transport accounts for one third of Sweden’s carbon emissions, and the current tests of the electric highway is just one piece of the government’s plan for reaching 100% fossil-free vehicle fleet by 2030.
“If we were to supply the entire route from Borlänge to Gävle port with equipment and electric trucks, this would ensure the potential to completely reduce carbon dioxide emissions from heavy goods traffic. We are looking forward to using the data from this demonstration project to evaluate further investment,” explains Anders Bylund, business manager at Siemens. The tech and infrastructure giants are planning a similar electric road in California, on a strip of highway between Los Angeles and Long Beach.