Electric road freight: German-Swedish research collaboration has started

How can electric freight transport contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

At present, road freight transport mainly runs on diesel, producing around 56 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in Germany annually. The figure is rising, so what can be done to make long-distance road haulage more climate-friendly? Finding answers to this question is the focus of a new German-Swedish research project: an international consortium led by the Oeko-Institut and ifeu and also involving Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences is investigating ways of providing an electric power supply for road freight transportation. The research team plans to undertake a holistic analysis of all the technologies which have the potential to power a truck during the drive, including overhead cable hybrid trucks, power rails built into the street and electromagnetic inductive battery charging. Working with the Swedish consortium partners – a key player being RISE Viktoria, an institute in Sweden – the team will also identify suitable ERS freight corridors between Sweden and Germany.

How can electric freight transport contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and how much energy will be required for the electric propulsion of heavy goods vehicles? The research project will seek answers to these questions as well. In addition, the team will identify potential business models and financing strategies for the development of a transboundary infrastructure, and produce recommendations on the required legal framework and technical standards for transnational electric freight transport.

Implementing the German and Swedish governments’ joint declaration

In early 2017, the German and Swedish governments issued a joint declaration on “Innovation and cooperation for a sustainable future – A German-Swedish partnership for innovation” in which they agreed to intensify their cooperation on the electrification of long-distance road freight. With the new project, entitled “Swedish-German Research Collaboration on Electric Road Systems”, the two countries now aim to establish a shared knowledge base, provide insights into good practice examples from Germany and Sweden, and discuss potential long-term strategies for successful transnational implementation of electric road systems (ERS) in Europe.

Florian Hacker, project leader at the Oeko-Institut, explains: “Given the need to mitigate climate change, road freight transport urgently needs to find alternatives to diesel, which currently dominates the sector. This project builds on the opportunities afforded by international networking: it addresses the related challenges at an early stage through German-Swedish collaboration.”

Project partners and funding

The Swedish-German Research Collaboration on Electric Road Systems project (CollERS) project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket). In addition to the institutions mentioned above, other project partners are the Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy System Technology (IEE), Intraplan Consult GmbH, Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI).