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Sweden tests world's first eHighway

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(26 Jun 2016) LEAD IN:
The first so-called 'eHighway' in the world is being tested in Sweden in a bid to lower greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.
The project was initiated by Sweden's transport authority and is the result of technological cooperation between engineering company Siemens and truck manufacturer Scania.

STORY-LINE:
On Sweden's E16 highway near the town of Sandviken, what's claimed to be a world first is about to take place - the testing of an innovative new 'eHighway'.
The idea is relatively simple; trucks connect to overhead cables in a similar way to trams or trains, their engines then switch from diesel to electric.
Purpose-built hybrid trucks seamlessly connect to the grid through a pantograph on the roof, then run on an electric motor.
"It felt fantastic," says Swedish minister for transport and infrastructure, Anna Johansson.
"I mean being among the first ever industry riding a heavy vehicle that's electrified, it's of course amazing.
"And it is also showing the opportunity to actually turn around the whole transport sector, in the long term at least, to see that it's possible to electrify also the heavy traffic and to show also that Sweden is innovative, we are brave and we want to be in the lead of this development against climate change and towards the sustainable society."
For now, the cable system covers a two-kilometre stretch of the E16 highway.
Swedish minister for energy, Ibrahim Baylan says it's all part of the country's aim to become a "fossil-free economy".
Sweden is aiming to achieve a fossil-free transport sector by 2030.
"From a Swedish point of view, we have today an electricity sector that is more or less climate neutral, we have a heating sector that we have developed from a total dependent on oil to 95 percent renewable," he says.
"Our challenge is the transportation sector. And these kind of tests will, I think, prove to be crucial if we are to manage to make Sweden the first fossil-free economy society in the world."
Trucks like this electric hybrid are manufactured by Scania and adapted, in collaboration with Siemens, to operate under the cable system.
The core of the system is an intelligent pantograph combined with a hybrid drive system.
A sensor system enables the pantograph to hook up to the cable system and disconnect automatically at speeds of up to 90 kilometres per hour.
Hasso Georg Grunjes from Siemens says it's actually utilising everyday technologies.
"I wouldn't really call it a ground-breaking innovation, because basically it's the combination of some old and mature technologies; it's railway technology, combined with truck technology," he says.
"On the one hand side you have the efficiency of a railway system and you combine it with the flexibility of a truck system, and that's the real advantage.
"But I would also like to add to that that if you look at this from a bigger perspective, than this should not be seen as a competition to the railway, because it is a necessary complement to the railway if we really are eager to achieve the climate goals which we have set."
It's claimed to be both cheaper and cleaner than regular diesel engines.
Trucks equipped with the system draw power from the overhead wires as they drive, enabling them to travel efficiently and with zero local emissions.
On roads without any electric infrastructure, the vehicles make use of their diesel hybrid system.
Nils-Gunnar Vagstedt from Scania claims electrified road transport cuts energy consumption in half and reduces local air pollution.
"It is automatic on these wires, so you drive the truck perfectly as a normal truck, you don't do anything," he explains.
"So if you stay in your lane, you are perfectly alright to pick up the electricity.

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