First electric-road nearly ready for operation

First electric-road nearly ready for operation

The electric road for heavy trucks in central Sweden is now almost complete. The first electrically powered truck will begin rolling along the two-kilometre test strip – located on a regular road near the town of Gävle – in May. The project is believed to be the first of its kind on a public road anywhere in the world.

On the E16 motorway outside the central-Swedish city of Gävle, final preparations are now underway for an electrified road for heavy-truck transport operations. Once overhead power lines have been strung up along the two-kilometre row of power poles, everything will be ready for for the first test runs of electrically powered trucks from Scania, each equipped with pantographs on the roof.

“During the two years that tests are underway, we want to demonstrate the potential for operating heavy vehicles without using fossil fuels and with the help of electrification,” says Anders Berndtsson, a strategist within the Research and Innovation division of Sweden’s transport administrator, Trafikverket, one of the main financiers of the project.

A fossil-fuel free fleet by 2030

One of Sweden’s national goals is for the country’s vehicle fleet to be fossil-fuel free by 2030, and for the whole community to be fossil-fuel free by 2050. These goals have inspired the electric road project.

“We hope that the trial will show that electric roads work from a technical standpoint, that they work in association with other types of traffic, and that they are safe,” says Berndtsson. “The major benefit of the project is that we are expediting the process of electrifying roads, and we will gain a good basis for making decisions on how to move ahead with addressing carbon dioxide emissions from heavy vehicles.”

Magnus Ernström, Region Gävleborg’s manager for the project, and Anders Berndtsson, a strategist at Sweden’s transport administrator.

Magnus Ernström, Region Gävleborg’s manager for the project, and Anders Berndtsson, strategist at Sweden’s transport administrator.

Magnus Ernström, who is Region Gävleborg’s manager for the project, says one of the reasons that prompted the region to become involved was that it hoped to be able to attract new investments. “We also want to invest in innovation around the new technology so that our companies can develop new products and services,” he says. “And thirdly, we want a full expansion of the scheme from the Port of Gävle to Borlänge if the technology works as well as we expect it to.”

Ernström hopes that the project will bring significant benefits to the region.

“It’s now up to us to do something positive with the technology and the opportunities presented by having such a scheme located here and being the first in the world,” he says. “We, of course, realise that it could mean environmentally friendly and significantly more economically advantageous transport, both for big industry and smaller companies.”

The electric road will be inaugurated at an on-site ceremony on 22 June. The project is a cooperative effort between Swedish business and academia as well as government authorities. Trafikverket, Energimyndigheten (the Swedish Energy Agency), the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova, Scania, and Siemens are the chief financiers, and Region Gävleborg is coordinating the project.