Sweden has made a remarkable breakthrough in sustainable transportation with the opening of the world’s first electrified road for vehicles. Aiming to tackle the challenges of affordable battery manufacturing and keeping electric vehicles charged, a 2km (1.2 miles) electric rail has been installed on a public road near Stockholm. The innovative project involves embedding the rail in the road, offering a potential solution to these issues. This revolutionary technology has the potential to change the way we travel and drive the transportation sector toward sustainable solutions.
Sweden’s government has already drafted a national map for future expansion, demonstrating its commitment to achieving independence from fossil fuels by 2030, requiring a 70% reduction in the transport sector. This initiative to electrify the road connecting Stockholm Arlanda airport to a logistics site outside the city is the initial move towards reaching this goal.
In an innovative move towards sustainable transportation, the road linking Stockholm Arlanda airport to a logistics site outside the city has been electrified. The energy required to power vehicles is transferred from two tracks of rail embedded in the road via a movable arm fixed to the bottom of the vehicle. This technology, reminiscent of a Scalextric track, ensures that the vehicle stays connected to the power source only when it is above the 50m electrified section. Furthermore, in the event of overtaking, the arm disconnects automatically, ensuring the safety of all drivers on the road. This novel system is a significant step towards achieving Sweden’s ambitious goal of achieving a fossil fuel-free transportation system.
Once a vehicle comes to a halt, the power supply is cut off, and the technology can calculate the amount of energy consumed by the vehicle, making it possible to charge the user according to their electricity usage. This allows for individualized billing per vehicle and user. This dynamic charging, as opposed to the use of roadside charging posts, means that the vehicle’s batteries can be smaller, along with their manufacturing costs.
Hans Säll, the CEO of the eRoadArlanda consortium, stated that the newly developed technology could be applied to both vehicles and roadways. With over 500,000 kilometres of roadways in Sweden, including 20,000 kilometres of highways, electrifying a substantial portion of them could be possible. Mr Säll added that electrifying 20,000 kilometres of highways would be more than enough, as the distance between two highways is not more than 45 kilometres, which electric cars can travel without the need for a recharge. Some experts suggest that electrifying only 5,000 kilometres could suffice.
According to reports, the cost of electrifying a kilometre of the road is €1m, which is significantly cheaper than building an urban tram line. In fact, it’s believed to be 50 times less expensive. The electrified road could be a game-changer, making electric vehicles more cost-efficient, and solving the issue of keeping electric cars charged for long distances.
The national grids are moving towards renewable sources of energy, and battery storage is seen as crucial to achieving sustainable transportation. The Swedish government is in talks with Berlin about a future network, demonstrating that the electrified road technology has the potential to be a game-changer for the transportation sector.