Sustainable Transportation Electric roads

Published on July 31st, 2013 | by Anneli Hidalgo

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Volvo tests electric roads for charging cars

The Volvo Group is testing a program to supply electric power to trucks and buses via power lines built into the surface of the road.

The program is part of a large Swedish research project to find solutions for this, with the support of the Swedish Energy Agency. The project includes the Swedish Transport Administration, Vattenfall, several universities, vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. The method currently being developed and tested by the Volvo Group, together with Alstom, entails two power lines built into the surface of the road along the entire length of the road. A current collector in contact with the power lines will be located on the truck.

Last year, Volvo built a 400-meter long track at its testing facility in Hällered outside Gothenburg. The company has been testing the system since last autumn. Richard Sebestyen, project manager at Volvo Group Trucks Technology, says that they are currently testing how to connect the electricity from the road to the truck. The electricity flows into a water-cooled heating element, with similar power requirement as an electricity-driven truck.

However, Volvo Group underlines that there is still a great deal of research that remains before this could become a reality. It involves the continued technical development of the current collector, electric motor and the control systems required. It also involves road construction, road maintenance, electricity supply along the roads and various payment models. But the company is “convinced” it will find a cost-efficient way to supply electricity to long-distance vehicles.

According to the Swedish Energy Agency, the concept of electric roads has been greatly developed during the last five years and the technology is now at a point that it could be implemented in the next few years. The Swedish Energy Agency, The Swedish Transport Administration and Sweden’s Innovation Agency are all working together in order to get suppliers to develop, demonstrate and evaluate electric roads as a possible method to reduce the use of fossil energy in the Swedish transportation system. The projects are in line with the government goal of an energy-efficient and fossil free vehicle fleet by 2030.

 

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