A report for the UK government is recommending electrifying the nation’s motorways with overhead cable following successful trials with electric trucks across Europe.
“An ‘Electric Road System’ (ERS) is the primary candidate to deliver the energy needed by the UK’s long-distance HGV fleet,” says the report from the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight.
This would use overhead power cables installed from the side of the road with overnight works. This allows electric trucks to use smaller battery packs to provide power for overtaking and for travel on smaller roads.
“ERS deploys roadside infrastructure that allows the most efficient direct use of zero-carbon electricity and hence the lowest societal cost. This approach is scalable and quick to deploy, using known and available technologies. Truck manufacturers including Scania have indicated they can deliver the modified vehicles and have delivered numerous prototypes for demonstration trials around Europe.”
The report points to the success of trials in Sweden and Germany and European electric truck makers already standardising on the pantograph technology.
The White Paper sets out the case for a nationwide rollout of ERS through the 2030s in three phases (shown above).
“A total investment in the region of £19.3 billion would be required to electrify almost all the UK’s long-haul freight vehicles, corresponding to 65% of road freight movements. The remaining 35% of freight movements are mainly urban deliveries that are expected to move to battery electric lorries over the next 10 years. The investment compares well with the size of other planned infrastructure projects,” said the researchers who prepared the report.
Work could get underway immediately with an £80m pilot project in Yorkshire in the North of England.
“The investments in pantograph electric vehicles would pay-back the vehicle operators in 18 months through lower energy costs and the electrification infrastructure could pay-back investors in 15 years through electricity sales,” said the report.