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Sweden inaugurates the world’s first electric highway for trucks

Sweden is testing a stretch of electric highway on a road connecting Sweden to Norway. Hybrid trucks will be powered like trams.

Sweden inaugurated the first stretch of electric highway in the province of Gästrikland, more precisely between Kungsgården and Sandviken, on the 22nd of June. It’s a stretch of the E16 road, a highway that connects Sweden to Norway.

autostrada elettrica
The electric highway was inaugurated on 22 June 2016. Photo via Tobias Ohls

It’s a 2-kilometre stretch where hybrid trucks will be powered by electricity, exactly like trams. A two-year trial period will allow understand the potential of the technology developed by Scania and Siemens and test the electric highway in all weather conditions.

“I am incredibly proud of our success with Project E16 Electric Road, and now we are really at the forefront of the work on climate and environment,” said regional President Eva Lindberg. “The E16 Electric Road is a symbol of environmental care, quality of life, cooperation and innovation,” she said.

An 8 million euro investment that will cut emissions by 80%

The programme has been fund thanks to 8 million euros by Sweden’s department of energy and transports and 5 million euros by Scania and Siemens. The aim is developing a system to make other stretches electric across the country, significantly reducing CO2 emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Some tests have already shown that reducing emissions of heavy transport by 80 per cent is possible.

This is a crucial programme for an industry that is relentlessly growing in terms of volume and emissions. In fact, the transport industry is the only sector with positive results economically speaking.

How the electric highway works

The system works like trams. Trucks are provided with a pantograph connecting vehicles to overhead contact lines. The pantograph can be easily connected to and disconnected from the contact wire, either automatically or at the push of a button. When vehicles are not connected, the vehicles run on endothermic energy.

“We now know that building this type of systems on public roads is possible. It’s now time to study how vehicles work in normal weather and traffic conditions,” said project manager Magnus Ernström. “The E16 electric highway will pave the way for those companies willing to have a sustainable fleet that is independent from fossil fuels”.

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