World’s first electric highway opens in Sweden

  • Sweden has rolled out and opened the first electric highway in the world
  • The 1.2 mile stretch of electric cables can be found in Gavle, north of the capital of Stockholm
  • The project is a startup to a longer highway of electric cables, particularly for long-haul trucks
  • The project is part of the country’s goal to be oil-free by 2020

The world’s first electric highway has been opened in Sweden.

The 1.2 mile stretch on the E16 road near the city of Gavle has the world’s first electric highway. Gavle, found north of the country’s capital of Stockholm, has the eHighway that lets hybrid trucks draw power from overhead power lines. The power lines are placed on the slow lane on one of the area’s main highways. The mechanism appears similar to trams.

As CNet reported, the project took several years of development alongside global manufacturer of electronics, Siemens.

The highway aims to give heavy traffic an alternative to diesel fuel. This is particularly of an advantage to long-haul trucks. This step is a part of the country’s larger goal to be oil-free by the year 2020.

Magnus Ernström, a project manager from the Gävleborg region, told the national radio station, Sverige Radio, that a good number of products are transported along the mile-long patch of highway.

“The railroad going the same direction is already full, so we see this as a flexible railroad,” Ernström said.

Currently, a study on that first mile is ongoing in the town of Sandviken. If the study proves successful and the financial provision is in place, Ernström predicts that they will roll out the project on over 120 miles of highway from the coastal city of Gävle to the industrial town of Borlänge.

The design may seem messy and not a big deal, considering that Tesla has already figured out a way on how to electrify a car via battery power without the need for cables. However, trucks are a different subject altogether because they have different energy requirements than the regular sedans.

Cables are more efficient with long-haul trucks because to power up one would require so many batteries loaded into the truck; there would not be enough space or weight allotted for the goods that will be transported.

Of course ideally, electric car batteries will eventually become small enough that engineers would not have to sacrifice cargo space to make for them in long-haul trucks. But until that happens, Sweden will continue to use its miles of cables to continue on their path to an oil-free future.

Ernström said the estimates that the 120-mile stretch of cables which they plan to roll out could end up paying for itself in fuel savings over seven or eight years.

“It’s fewer years than most people expect. Because we have proven that it can be done, it is not science fiction,” he said.