Sweden charges ahead with world's first electric road for on-the-go EV charging

Using various innovative technologies like overhead conductive, ground-based conductive, and ground-based inductive charging—Sweden is creating roads that offer continuous driving power.
Abdul-Rahman Oladimeji Bello
Future city
Future city


An electric vehicle is an automobile powered by electricity stored in batteries or fuel cells rather than relying on internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels. EVs use electric motors to propel the vehicle. They offer a cleaner and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles. 

Sweden spearheads an extraordinary project—the world's first permanent electric road. This groundbreaking initiative will enable electric cars and trucks to charge while driving, thus removing range anxiety and revolutionizing sustainable transportation.

The Swedish Transport Administration, Trafikverket, is leading the charge and has identified the E20 highway as the ideal location for this pioneering endeavor. The 13-mile (21 km) stretch, extending from Hallsberg to Örebro between Stockholm and Gothenburg, holds immense potential for electric road development. Currently in the procurement and final planning stage, the electric road system (ERS) is anticipated to be completed and made accessible to the public by 2025/2026.

How will the system work? 

So, how will this innovative system work? Trafikverket is still deliberating on the technology to be used for the ERS. Three options are considered: overhead conductive, ground-based conductive, and ground-based inductive charging. 

In the case of overhead conductive charging, power is transferred from overhead wires to vehicles through a pantograph, akin to how trams operate. This method is best suited for heavy-duty vehicles reaching the electric lines.

The ground-based conductive and inductive charging options function similarly. Power is transferred from specialized rails or tracks placed below or on the road in conductive charging. Vehicles charge using a mechanical arm or stick that connects with the rails. In the inductive system, power is transferred between coils embedded in the road and the vehicles.

Sweden charges ahead with world's first electric road for on-the-go EV charging
Electric car on road

Over the years, Trafikverket has conducted trials in Lund, Gotland, and Sandviken, with a particular focus on trucks and buses. The electrification of the road network connecting major cities is estimated to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles by 1.2 million tonnes by 2030.

The government's ambitious plan aims to deploy 2,000 kilometers of ERS on public roads by 2030. While the strategy of investing in electric roads remains a subject of debate, there are compelling arguments in its favor.

Electric road systems can potentially extend the driving range between charging station visits, thus promoting greater adoption of EVs and reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, a recent study by the Chalmers University of Technology highlighted that e-roads could alleviate peak-time grid demands, offering an alternative to home charging.

The researchers also suggested that combining static and dynamic charging could significantly reduce battery size by up to 70 percent, reducing consumer costs and minimizing the need for raw materials.

Critics, however, raise concerns about this investment and maintenance costs. They argue that advancements in battery technology might render electric roads obsolete in the long run. 

Nevertheless, the study's findings suggest that the risk is relatively low. The research team estimates that electrifying just 25 percent of national and European roads would be sufficient for the system to function effectively.

Sweden is not alone in its pursuit of electric roads, as Italy, France, Germany, and the UK are also conducting trials. The potential for interconnectivity throughout Europe strengthens the viability of an extensive electric road network.

As Sweden charges ahead with its groundbreaking project, the world watches anxiously. Realizing a permanent electric road opens up new horizons for sustainable transportation.

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