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Conductive (charging)


Technology Description

Dynamic charging, or Electric Road Systems (ERS), relies on vehicles that can receive electricity from power transfer installations along the road upon which the vehicles are driving. Multiple options for power transfer are being explored. These can be most generally classified into conductive and inductive transfer.
Conductive power transfer concepts can use catenary systems coupled with a pantograph arm (as is being trialled by Siemens and truck original equipment manufacturer partners), or via in-road or road-side rail systems with a connector arm. Such systems can enable high power transfer efficiency.
At the end of the electrified segment of road the vehicle can continue to draw from its batteries, switching to its engine when operations warrant doing so or when the batteries are fully depleted. This allows electric vehicles to become more flexible, reduces the need for on-board energy capacity in the vehicles themselves, and can accelerate the operations for which electrification is technically viable and economically competitive (i.e. of long-distance freight and other heavy duty modes). The vehicles using ERS can be hybrid, battery-electric, or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and can conduct normal driving operations, such as overtaking and driving autonomously outside of electric roads. With a small but growing number of demonstrations in Sweden and Germany, truck operators like Scania are working with Siemens to gain real-world experience operating catenary ERS systems. Installation costs are around USD 1 million or more per lane-km when dimensioned for traffic flows on the core part of the road network (starting at around 2 000 trucks/day), and may fall somewhat from that level in the long term, approaching the magnitudes of rail electrification infrastructure upgrades.

Relevance for Net Zero

Dynamic charging can complement or serve as a substitute to traditional electric vehicle charging (e.g. by enabling road vehicles to run on electric with smaller batteries). Electric Road Systems could accelerate adoption, particularly for heavy-duty and intensive usage and/or long-distance operations like intercity buses (coaches), and regional and long-haul trucking. For other vehicle types and operations, it is of less critical importance than some of the other charging strategies.

Key Countries

Germany, Sweden, United States

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