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Putting the last puzzle pieces of electric roads

In 2045, the transport sector in Sweden must be climate neutral and fossil-free. A possible solution for achieving this goal is electric roads. The technology is already being demonstrated on public roads in Sweden, and the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) hopes it can take the step to large-scale operation soon.

Domestic transport accounts for about one-third of Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions. The transport sector, therefore, has an important role to play when it comes to combating climate change.
The Swedish Parliament has adopted several climate goals including at least a 70 percent decrease in emissions from domestic transport (except domestic flights) by 2030 — and that by 2045, Sweden will have zero net emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. At the same time, in both Sweden and the rest of the world, heavy transport is increasing. For the Swedish transport sector to meet the climate goal, many different solutions will need to work together.

Electric roads — a technology that’s come a long way

Today, there are basically three types of systems for electrified roads: overhead cables, rails in the road or wireless via the road surface. In the short term, it’s primarily heavy goods vehicles and long-distance transport that need electric roads. But the possibility of charging during movement can also be advantageously applied to private cars and other smaller vehicles.

The technology exists — but questions remain

When it comes to electrified roads, the development has come a long way, and the technology is available. To eliminate some of the remaining difficulties, RISE is leading a project called The Research and Innovation Platform for Electric Roads. Here, people are looking for answers to questions like how to take the step to large-scale operation, how the business ecosystem will work and how interfaces can be standardized.

“Where previously only technical solutions were up for discussion, people now see the importance of financing models, how different systems may suit different markets and what the short- and long-term benefits might be,” says Martin Gustavsson, a project manager and electromobility researcher at RISE. “These question marks need to be straightened out before more electric roads can be rolled out — something the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) would like to see happen in the near future.”

“Inductive charging of electric vehicles is one of the most interesting solutions to contribute to a fossil-free transport sector. It’s important that Sweden can, in the near future, start rolling out electric roads. If we succeed, it can make a major positive contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector and also create new jobs in Sweden,” explains Jan Pettersson, director of strategic development at the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), which is one of the project’s financiers.

Profitability — a key to proving the technology’s potential

Research has already demonstrated that electric roads would lead to large climate benefits. Economic calculations made have shown that electric roads are profitable long term. Being able to refer to profitability in a country like Sweden, with relatively low transport flows, also indicates the system’s potential.

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Martin G. H. Gustavsson

Senior Researcher

+46 10 228 44 21

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