The world's first innovative electric road attracts visitors to Gavleborg, Sweden

On June 22, 2016 the world's first fossil-free electric road for truck traffic was inaugurated on the E16 outside Sandviken, Sweden. Interest in the unique project is big both in Sweden and abroad and the subproject VIRUS has opened a visitor center to take care of field trips and manage all synergies.

Along the two kilometers of the E16 between Hillsta (Kingsgarden) and Sandviken there are hanging airborne contact lines on the right hand lane. The hybrid trucks connect to them via a sensor system to run only on electricity at speeds up to 90 kilometers per hour – with zero emissions.

When the airline ends the cars switch back to a diesel hybrid system. Most people who come to the Region Gavleborg want to visit the unique demonstration route, but most visits begin in a newly opened visitor center in Sandbacka Science Park. It brings together various researchers, development and project groups to work on issues related to security, business models, regulation, operation, maintenance and development of related services.

At the Science Park Project manager Helena Fahlstedt also gives a theoretical background of the project to the visitors from all over the world. Thereafter it is possible to jointly visit the site, watch a demonstration and get the opportunity to ride in one of the specially designed trucks that operate the route.

Truck, electricity supply and regulations

"We have had visitors from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Korea, Japan and Norway, and in the next week, The Austrian Embassy's Trade Department intend to come visit. Some are mostly interested in the trucks, others by the electricity supply or by how we have handled the project itself, for example, about the laws and procurement regulations", she says and stresses that the facility is built within existing law - and without exemptions.

"It would have been pointless if we invested in solutions that cannot be implemented in practice without violating the law. Then we would just have problems later on", Helena explains.

The Swedish Transport Agency´s VIRUS project is focused on "Hosting, Innovation, Regional development and Synergies around Electric roads for fossil-heavy logistics", which is also the project's full name.

"The region's role is to identify and create opportunities for innovation that comes with the project. We do not "sell" any product and we are not part of any deal, we do, however, want to be able to offer an innovative business solution in a region ith a high quality of life,"says Helena Fahlstedt, adding that a lot is already underway.

The pipes used in the plant come from SSAB and steel is prepared by Gavle Steel. More and more companies in the region also get new contacts through the visitors. If a local business figure out a good solution, for example, for the luminaire, this is, according to Helena Fahlstedt, not impossible that anyone anywhere else in the world would like to discuss the same solution.

Other ideas are parking spaces with charging infrastructure for everything from electric cars to mobile phones. It's just your imagination that set the boundaries. The unexpected cold snap in November 2016 also stressed the need to revise the so called outlier (the transverse pillars sticking out over the roadway), so that there will not be any snow formation. "Either there will be a new design, or heat should be added. We have had “the pillars seminar” earlier but maybe it's time for one more" concludes Helen.

The Project Electric road

The Electric road for fossil heavy traffic in Gavleborg is the world's first on a public road. During two years, two Scania trucks with hybridized drivetrain will operate the newly built demonstration route to see how the system works in different weather conditions and within normal traffic conditions.

The project's goal is to create knowledge, experience and conditions for decision support to the Swedish Transport Agency, the Swedish Energy Agency and Vinnova, which in turn can serve as a platform for an electrification of Sweden’s major transport routes. If the project is successful, the aim is to continue to expand the network to include the route Borlange - Gavle port from Avesta.