When Eddie Grant sang ‘We’re gonna rock down to Electric Avenue’, in his seminal 1982 tune Electric Avenue, who’d have thought that one day we’d have actual electric highways.
Eddie will be pleased to hear, then, that Germany is introducing electric highways for trucks, allowing HGVs to draw power from overhead cables, reducing their diesel and petrol use, and therefore reducing their CO2 output, helping tackle climate change along the way.
The new development is the first of its kind to be tested on public roads in Germany, where trucks with special equipment mounted to their roofs can connect to electrified lines above the autobahn, and travel at speeds of up to 90km per hour (56mph).
The new technology has been designed by Siemens, and aided by the German government, which has spent €70 million developing trucks that can use the system, according to CNN.
So far, the system runs along a 10km (6.2 mile) stretch of the autobahn between Frankfurt airport and a nearby industrial park. Two more stretches of the highway are expected to open soon.
The trucks run on electric motors when connected to the overhead power lines, and on hybrid systems when on regular roads. Sensors inside the lorries detect when they can use the overhead cables.
According to Siemens, the eHighway system ‘combines the efficiency of electric rail with the flexibility of trucking,’ while the electric system also drastically reduces the emission of CO2 and nitrogen oxides from the road.
The company is confident they can integrate the eHighway system onto existing road infrastructure, providing a practical way to reduce emissions in areas where railways aren’t possible. Using the new system, Siemens believe truck drivers will save around €20,000 on fuel over 100,000km (62,137 miles).
Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, state secretary at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, said:
Electrified trucks are a particularly efficient solution on the road to carbon-neutral transportation.
According to the International Transport Forum, truck transportation is the fastest growing source of oil demand in the world. Unless things change, road transportation of goods will account for 15 per cent of the projected increase in global CO2 emissions between now and 2050.
Significantly reducing carbon emissions from road transport is one of the main parts of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, and the continued electrification of transport, like this system in Germany, could be a key solution.
Similar systems are currently being tested in Sweden and Los Angeles.
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