Cutting climate gas emissions with electric roads

“Forget about range anxiety. In the future, we will drive on electric roads where our cars are charged while we are on the move,” says Tekna member Runar Søråsen.

According to Statistics Norway’s figures for climate gas emissions, transport accounts for the highest proportion at 30 per cent of total discharges in Norway. Of this, road traffic accounts for just over half, i.e. 17 per cent.

One of the solutions for achieving the climate gas goal of a 50 per cent reduction in transport-related emissions by 2030 lies in the use of electric vehicles and the electrification of roads, according to Tekna member Runar Søråsen. He heads Norwegian Electric Roads Cluster, a cluster of actors working to electrify all road traffic in Norway, cars as well as goods traffic.

Unlimited range

“Imagine being able to drive your electric car without even a trace of range anxiety. In a few years’ time we predict that electric vehicles will be charged not only at charging points but also use wireless charging at traffic lights, in car parks or even while the vehicle is on the move,” says Runar Søråsen. His ambition is that users should have unlimited range.

At the time of writing there are three solutions mooted for electric roads. One is power- transmitting overhead lines, similar to the electric trams used in cities today. This will be suitable only for high vehicles, such as trucks and buses. A second solution is the installation of electrified rails in the roadway. These could also be used by cars. The third solution is wireless charging at speed with the aid of coils in the road.

All three solutions were assessed from a technological and commercial perspective in the R&D project ELinGO (which stands for Electrical Infrastructure for Goods Transport), which was concluded last year. The project was owned by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, while research centre SINTEF coordinated the project, which involved a number of companies, organisations and research communities. The project considered solutions that might be likely when goods shipped by road are estimated to increase by 95 per cent in the years leading up to 2050, at the same time as which Norway must become climate neutral.

Find out more about ELinGO at Sintef (in Norwegian)

Connections with web solutions

“A lot of very exciting things are happening in the field of transport and mobility. Three strong forces are pushing this development forwards. Firstly, digitalisation with new web platforms where you match supply with demand, for example as in Uber, the transportation network company, in route planners and in ticketing throughout the entire travel chain. The second force is self-driving buses/cars, which fit perfectly into this picture. Existing infrastructure is not well adapted to these solutions. The third force involves electrification where the next step is electric roads. The introduction of electric roads will take off in a big way when the number of self-driving vehicles reaches a certain level,” says Søråsen.

“Research projects are ongoing in a number of countries. Several pilot projects on electric roads have been conducted in Sweden, Germany, France and Italy. In Gävle in Sweden, for example, an extended test stretch of overhead conductive lines is operational and in use by a transport company. A test stretch of conductive rail has been embedded in a 12 kilometre section of road near Arlanda Airport, according to Søråsen.

Published: Monday, February 4, 2019