Environmental matters are always close to the heart of the people in the Nordic countries.
During my stay in Stockholm and visits to various parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, I noticed the sustained passion and eco-friendly nature among many people – something that appears to be so ingrained in their culture.
I was always awestruck by the palpable concern many people had for their environment. Only after delving deeply and chatting with the locals did I realise the reasons. Climate change is expected to hit these countries and global warming is no longer just a perceived threat.
Rainfall has increased in many places. Inevitably, rising sea levels and storm surges will threaten low-lying cities along Scandinavia’s coasts.
So, it is natural for people in these countries to be continually innovative in devising ways to reduce the impact of climate change. Now, Sweden plans to build electric roads to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.
Trafikverket, the Swedish transport administration, is constructing the first permanent electric road, a 21km stretch of the two-lane E20 between Hallsberg and Örebro, and they expect it to be operational by 2025.
The technology has yet to be adopted for the construction of the electric road to be used by heavy transport trucks.
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Recently, Trafikverket partially financed an experimental pilot project in the municipality of Lund, with a ground-level feeding system that charges vehicles (with retractable electrical pick-ups) as they pass over it.
The consortium that worked on the €9.2m pilot scheme is EVolutionRoad, comprising nine players from the business sector, universities and the public sector.
The EVolutionRoad scheme has been running since 2020, gathering data from an electric bus running the route for one week in each month.
An August 2020 report by the Region Örebro County noted that many haulage companies in the area find the electrification of the road suitable for the transportation of their products.
The E20 European highway in Örebro County’s pilot project is a good test-bed for the large-scale electrification of roads. The volume of goods transported in Örebro County is sufficient to enable Trafikverket to collect data over time, even if the project does not lead to a national electrification road system.
The Örebro County is specifically earmarked for the electrification of roads as most of the freight transported between northern and southern Sweden passes through this region. The report further stated that goods transported by trucks in the region will increase by 46% by 2040.
Based on its freight transport forecast, Trafikverket projects the annual traffic growth rate to rise by 1.1% up to 2040 and 0.8% in 2040-2065. The Örebro region has become a hub for logistics establishments, because of its strategic location in central Sweden.
Companies providing the electricity grid – Ellevio, Vattenfall and Svenska Kraftnät – have already ascertained the quantity of electrical energy required for such a road project.
Supporting this project is the Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises (Transportföretagen), which believes the action plan presented by the Swedish electrification commission on boosting e-vehicles is a move in the right direction.
With Swedes becoming more conscious of the need to slash carbon emissions, Transportföretagen expects more investments in electrified transport and electrified road networks, as well as a long-term plan for electric vehicles charging infrastructure.
The confederation believes this project can complement Sweden’s efforts to achieve its climate change goals. It also feels that it would be much cheaper to expand electrified roads than to construct new electric rail lines.
Since 2013 Sweden began evaluating several types of electric road technology. A published report on the ground-level power supply for electric roads is expected by 14 November 2022. The final report from the Swedish electrification commission is expected by the end of 2022. By early 2023 the technology selected by Trafikverket’s for the electric roads will be announced.
The first permanent electric road in Sweden is scheduled to be operational by 2025. The project will be on the section of the E20 route between Hallsberg and Örebro. A further expansion of 3,000km of electric roads is scheduled to be completed by 2045.