World's 1st electric highway powers trucks on the go

Sweden is testing technology that could allow trucks to drive on highways without generating fossil fuel emissions, or having to stop to charge their batteries.

Swedish test uses overhead wires to deliver electricity to hybrid-electric trucks

Trucks use overhead framework to connect to electrical network 0:34

Sweden is testing a technology that feeds electrical power into trucks as they drive along a highway.

A two-kilometre test stretch of Highway E16 in Sandviken, about 160 kilometres north of Stockholm, has been equipped with overhead electrical wires that can be used to feed power into trucks that have a hybrid-electric motor, says Trafikverket, the Swedish Transport Administration.

The power is fed into the truck via a current conductor on the roof of the truck called a pantograph, similar to the ones on streetcars in Toronto and trolley buses in Vancouver. (Region Gavleborg)

The power is fed into the truck via a current conductor on the roof of the truck called a pantograph, similar to the ones that power the Calgary CTrain. It's designed to connect automatically while the truck travels at speeds of up to 90 kilometres per hour.

Once the truck leaves the electrified part of the highway, it returns to diesel-electric mode.

"Electric roads will bring us one step closer to fossil fuel-free transports, and has the potential to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions," said Lena Erixon, director general of Trafikverket. "This is one way of developing environmentally smart transports in the existing road network."

A two-kilometre test stretch of Highway E16 in Sandviken, about 160 kilometres north of Stockholm, has been equipped with overhead electrical wires located 5.4 metres above the roadway. (Elin Gårdestig)

The trial was launched in late June and will continue until 2018.

Trafikverket says this is one of the first tests of electric power for heavy transport vehicles on a public road in the world. It's being jointly funded by the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Energy Agency and Vinnova, a Swedish government agency that funds research and innovation.

Sweden has also approved tests of a different electric highway technology, involving an electric rail in the roadway that charges vehicles, to be initially tested off-road in 2017.

England announced last summer that it was planning off-road tests of an electric highway technology that would wirelessly charge electric vehicles as they drove. However, Highways England told CBC News on Tuesday that it is still working to procure the technology for the trials.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the pantographs on the trucks were similar to ones on Toronto streetcars and Vancouver trolley buses. In fact, both those systems use trolley poles, not pantographs. The truck pantographs are more similar to the ones used on the Calgary CTrain.
    Jul 06, 2016 8:24 AM ET

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