Sweden open’s first of its kind electrified roads road that recharges the batteries of cars and trucks while they are driven over the two tracks of rail. Currently, about 2km of electric rail has been embedded in a public road near Stockholm. The government’s roads agency has already drafted a national map for future expansion.
How does it work?
The energy is transmitted from two tracks of rail in the road via a movable arm attached at the bottom of a vehicle. The design is not dissimilar to that of a Scalextric track, although once the vehicle overtakes, the arm is automatically disconnected. The current is also disconnected when the vehicle stops and the system is able to calculate the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be debited per vehicle and user. This electrification technology aims to solve the tricky problems of keeping electric vehicles charged hence making the batteries cost efficient.
The “dynamic charging” – as opposed to the use of roadside charging posts – means the vehicle’s batteries can be smaller, along with their manufacturing costs. For its very first test a former diesel-fuelled truck owned by the logistics firm, PostNord was used on the road.
At a cost of €1m per kilometre, the cost of electrification is said to be 50 times lower than that is required to construct an urban tram line.
Hans Säll, chief executive of the eRoadArlanda consortium behind the project, said both current vehicles and roadways could be adapted to take advantage of the technology. He further 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.”
Sweden targets at turning Sweden into a fossil fuel free country by 2030 which, requires a 70% reduction in the transport sector. National grids are gradually moving away from coal and oil and battery storage is seen as crucial to a changing the source of the energy used in transportation.
The story was initially published in The Guardian