Eletric road

Sweden launches electrified road that charges vehicles in motion

Cars, buses and electric trucks are connected to rails that recharge their batteries; the expansion cost is about 1 million euros per kilometer including system installation

A 2-km long electrified road located between Arlanda cargo terminal, in Stockholm, Sweden, and a logistics center within a 30-minute distance is the first of its kind in the world. The road called eRoadArlanda, is based on conductive technology with a rail installed in the road, feeding electricity to vehicles in motion. Energy is then transferred from the rail in the road to the vehicle using a movable arm.

"By building electrified roads, like eRoadArlanda, we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 80–90 percent. And we can do it by adding new technology to the existing infrastructure”, the Swedish road consortium company explained in a notice. This explains the low-cost for system installation and operation: to date, investment has been around 6.4 million Euros, and every new mile is expected to cost 1 million euros.

The news is another measure of the Nordic country to meet its sustainable development goals. The Swedish government’s goal of a fossil free transportation infrastructure by 2030 will reduce 70% of its use in the transportation industry. The goal is to completely eradicate this type of fuel by 2050.

Currently, it is estimated that 33% of the country's carbon emissions come from road traffic. With the model adopted in eRoadArlanda, the Swedish Government predicts that two-thirds of its roads will be electrified within ten years. Thus, there will be around 3 million tons of fuel reduction in energy consumption by 2030.

How does the electrified road work?

Energy is transferred from the rail in the road to the vehicle using a movable arm. When overtaking another vehicle, the arm is disconnected from the road, the car starts running on battery and overtaking is done. As soon as the vehicle returns to the rail track, it reconnects and recharges batteries.

Visually wise, there is no major change in how the road looks; pretty much like an slotcar track, there are just a couple of rails installed at road level. The road features motion sensors and detects when electric vehicles are on the road; this way, only 50 meters of road are electrified at a time, reducing overall power consumption.

Citizens who want to use the service must register in a system that provides vehicle recognition. Thus, the road identifies that vehicle, electrifies the right part of the road and calculates its individual energy consumption, which is charged at the end of the month.

Future of the electric car

Electrified road technology will be fundamental to the popularization of electric vehicles in the country. Cars and trucks will become lighter and cheaper with it. It is estimated that heavy and 100% electric trucks will only need a 40-ton battery in order to run at standard operating range. With roads like eRoadArlanda, it would be possible to produce trucks with 600-kilo batteries.

In Sweden there are roughly half a million kilometers of roadway. A feasibility study of the project shows that it is enough to implant the electric system in 20 thousand kilometers so that all electric vehicles throughout the country can travel without having to recharge in specialized stations. The Swedish road agency is now working on the network expansion map.

In addition, this project is completely safe. “There is no electricity on the surface,” said Hans Säll, CEO of eRoadArlanda, in an interview for The Guardian. This means there is no risk for the safety of people or animals. “Five or six centimeters down is where the electricity is. But if you flood the road with salt water, then we learned that the electricity at surface level is just one volt. You could walk on it barefoot,” he added.