Sweden opened the world’s first electric road which charges the cars and trucks driven upon it. This road stretches for about 2km (1.2 miles) from Stockholm Arlanda airport to a logistic site nearby. Although this plan seems to be small for now the Swedish government’s road agency is ready with a drafted plan for nationwide expansion.
The electric road is a step towards Sweden’s goal of achieving freedom from fossil fuel dependency by 2030 and with 70% of its transport sector relying on fossil fuels this electric road can be a key performer towards reaching that goal. This road is a part of several projects laid down by the Swedish Transport Administration which plans to innovate and discover technologies and means towards sustainability and also to help the country fulfil its goals.
The name of this project is ‘eRoadArlanda’. It uses an electrical arm to transfer electricity to the rails which then transfers the energy to the electric vehicles above it. This seems like a sustainable option but expensive too with each kilometre costing about 1.2 million dollars. This system is compatible with heavier vehicles such as trucks and buses and lighter ones like cars.
As the vehicles approach the road a sensor placed in the vehicle detects the rail containing electricity which then activates the movable arm lowering it from underneath the vehicle and into the rail. This arm is flexible in nature thus proving vehicles freedom to move around the road without disconnecting. Hans Säll, chairman of the eRoadArlanda said, “One of the most important issues of our time is the question of how to make fossil-free road transportation a reality, we now have a solution that will make this possible, which is amazing. Sweden is at the cutting edge of this technology, which we now hope to introduce in other areas of the country and the world.”
According to Hans Säll this electric road has many advantages. Once functional it will be possible to make smaller batteries for electric vehicles which will make them lighter in size as it won’t be necessary for them to retain as much charge as they do right now. This will result in a reduction of the manufacturing cost of these vehicles ultimately leading to more sustainability.
This will also solve the inconvenience of keeping the vehicle charged and worrying how far one can go with the available battery. With the electric roads in the picture, the driver can be assured that they’ll reach their destination. The charges for the vehicle are also calculated through the system based on its energy consumption. Once the vehicle stops the current stops feeding, based on this the electricity charges are debited from the vehicle owner.
The electrification of the road also arises with various safety questions. Hans Säll says, “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.” This programme can be seen as the next big step in the world of sustainability. With its efforts in this direction, Sweden is definitely setting an example to look up to.