The world’s first road that allows electric vehicles to recharge as they drive has been installed outside Stockholm in Sweden with almost 2km of electric rails.
It is planned to expand the project throughout other parts of the Scandinavian country and to electrify 20,000km of Swedish road is expected to cost around US$9.5 billion.
It transfers energy from the rail through a moveable arm on the bottom of an electric vehicle.
As the vehicle moves over the rail, the arm detects it and moves to contact it. When overtaking, the arm automatically moves.
The rail is linked to the power grid and divided into sections that are only charged when electric vehicles move over them.
The power consumed by each vehicle passing over is calculated, enabling each user to be charged.
The road is being trialled using electrified lorries that have been developed for the project.
“One of the most important issues of our time is the question of how to make fossil-free road transport a reality,” said Hans Säll of eRoadArlanda, which is running the project.
It is claimed that if around 3 per cent of Swedish roads were electrified it would make electric vehicles far more efficient because shorter journeys between the electrified routes could be undertaken using vehicles without the need to recharge.
“The distance between two highways is never more than 45km and electric cars can already travel that distance without needing to be recharged. Some believe it would be enough to electrify 5,000km,” said Säll.
“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.”
The cost of electrification is said to be €1 million per kilometre, about 50 times lower than the cost of building an urban tram line.
In 2015 Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said the country aimed to have “one of the first fossil fuel-free welfare states in the world”.
The government-run Swedish Transport Administration has other projects to create electrified roads as part of a policy to have completely fossil fuel-free transport by 2030. Road traffic currently accounts for around a third of Swedish carbon emissions.
“It is important to break new ground when it comes to climate-smart road transport,” said Lena Erixon, director general of the agency.
“That’s why the Swedish Transport Administration supports innovative development projects that contribute to long-term, sustainable solutions.”
Only brave electric car drivers will brave the roads of northern Sweden in the winter. Picture credit: Flickr