Sweden is building the world’s first road for charging electric cars while driving

The e-highway is the first of its kind in the world and could lead to another 3,000 km of electric roads being expanded in Sweden by 2045. The European Union passed a law last month that requires all new cars sold to be carbon-neutral by 2035.

Now European countries are rushing to prepare the infrastructure needed for fossil-free mobility. In Sweden, a motorway is now being permanently electrified – a first in the world. On an electric road, cars and trucks can be charged while driving.

According to experts, dynamic charging enables longer distances with smaller batteries and avoids waiting times at charging stations. The Scandinavian country has pioneered the electrification of roads with several pilot projects, including the world’s first temporary electric road.

“We believe that electrification is the right way to decarbonise the transport sector, and we are working with a range of solutions,” Jan Pettersson, Director of Strategic Development at Trafikverket, the Swedish Transport Administration, told Euronews Next.

The chosen highway, the European route E20, connects the logistical hubs between Hallsberg and Örebro, which lie in the middle of the country’s three largest cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

How will it work?

The project is currently in the preparatory stage and is scheduled to be built by 2025. The charging method for the E20 has not yet been decided, but there are three types of charging: sequential systems, inductive systems, and conductive systems.

“We believe electrification is the way forward to decarbonize the transportation sector and we are working with a range of solutions.”

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Jan Peterson, Director of Strategic Development, Trafikverket

The catenary system can only be used for heavy commercial vehicles. Because it uses overhead lines to operate a special type of bus or tram.

In 2018, Trafikverket opened the world’s first electric vehicle freight train on public roads as a pilot project between Arlanda Airport in Stockholm and a logistics area in Rosersberg.

An electric railway has been milled into the asphalt for two kilometers, on which electric trucks lower a movable arm that receives electricity. Conductive charging works like a smartphone charging pad. Instead of plugging in a charger, these particular EVs have a pad or pad on the road, and when the vehicle is parked on it, the pad wirelessly charges the vehicle.

The inductive charging system uses special devices buried under the road that send electricity to a coil in the electric vehicle. The coil in the car then uses this current to charge the battery. In 2020, a wireless electric road for heavy trucks and buses is built in the island town of Visby.

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Potential benefits of special vehicles

Peterson says the world faces a particular challenge in operating heavy vehicles. “If you only have stationary charging solutions with full batteries for heavy vehicles, you get vehicles with a huge amount of batteries that the vehicles have to carry,” he said.

While much of the electric road system (ERS) is centered on trucks, a recent study suggests that private vehicles could also benefit. The study simulated the traffic patterns of 412 privately driven cars on sections of Swedish and European roads and found that a combination of home charging and dynamic charging can reduce battery size by up to 70 percent.

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The researchers behind the study also say that not all roads in Sweden need to be electrified; Only 25 percent of all methods will be effective for the system to work. This was the first attempt to simulate an electric road system (ERS) with real driving patterns. However, the researchers cautioned that ERS may not be appropriate for everyone. The world’s fastest “flying” electric ferry is set to make Stockholm’s passenger traffic faster than cars and the subway.

d said Wasim Schumann, a researcher in the Department of Material Resource Theory at Chalmers University of Technology, told Euronews Next.

Schumann says the difference in battery range between these two populations could be as much as 20 percent. He also says that the technology is immature and the study assumes certain conditions. “But I think with enough development they can achieve such qualities,” he added.

Other countries such as Italy, UK, USA and India are redoubling their efforts to build ERS systems. Sweden, which plans to add another 3,000 km of electric roads by 2045, has partnered with Germany and France to share experiences with electric roads as part of government and research cooperation.

Germany and Sweden have had demonstration installations on public roads for several years, and France plans to purchase a pilot section of an electric road.

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