It is well known that Sweden works for an energy efficient and fossil-free fleet by 2030, mainly in order to help strengthen Sweden's competitiveness. The electric highway project is a huge part of this, and aims to provide a decision base for electrification of the major transport areas in Sweden.
The project is coordinated by Region Gävleborg and is financed by the Swedish Transport Agency, the Swedish Energy Agency, VINNOVA, Scania and Siemens. The project is expected to continue until 2020.
In the next step, an extended pilot stretch for the electric highway will be built. Where and when is not currently determined, but will be announced from the Swedish Transport Agency during summer 2019.
How electric highways work
Heavy traffic is difficult to electrify, as it requires a lot of energy while the batteries take weight and space of loaded materials. Thus, battery dimensions must be dimensioned to maximize cargo space and weight, and there is almost no time to stand still in order to load the batteries. Hence, the electric highway is a way to charge the batteries while traveling on suitable stretches along high-traffic transport lines.
Above the electric highway, there are air lines that supply the vehicle with electricity. Because, unlike the railroad, there is no rail to feed back the electricity by requiring dual power lines. The air conduit is low voltage DC as in buses and trams. A truck with an electric drive line is provided with a simple attachment behind the cab where a pantograph connects to the vehicle's electrical system. Thus, the project uses standard hybrid trucks, i.e. the ability to drive both electric and / or diesel engines.
On the pantograph, there is a sensor that detects if there is a wire of the correct type above the vehicle. The pantograph can connect at full speed, and then supplies power to the vehicle's battery and electric motor to charge the truck's battery and power the electric motor. The truck can be driven off the highway, regardless of the highway, on battery, diesel or - in the future - other sources of fuel, such as fuel cells/hydrogen. Essentially, the truck works as an ordinary truck. For example, changing files, even at high speeds, is no problem. The difference is that the truck can be operated quietly and free of charge on electricity, and that it can charge the batteries even while traveling.