Smartroad Gotland is a unique pre-commercial demonstration project with the purpose of building knowledge for the future electricity roads. This is done by implementing an inductive electric road, compatible with all types of vehicles, in Visby, Sweden. The project is implemented by the consortium for Smartroad Gotland, under the leadership of Electreon AB. This world leading technique have created an opportunity to massively reduce the need for fossil fuels and simultaneously decrease air and noise pollution in urban areas.
Who runs the project?
The project is run by a consortium consisting of a number of parties, which is led by the company behind the technology: ElectReon AB, a subsidiary of the Israeli company ElectReon Wireless. The project is one of four electric road demonstration projects financed by the Swedish Transport Administration.
What is the project about?
Smartroad Gotland is a pre commercial demonstration project that aims to build knowledge and create possibilities for a large scale development of electric roads in Sweden. It contains a wireless electric road that uses inductive technology for dynamic charging of vehicles while driving.
The inductive electric road reduces the need for fossil fuels for heavy transports in a sustainable, cost efficient and energy efficient way. Electric roads also reduce air pollution and noise near highways and in urban environments.
Why is the road built on Gotland?
Gotland is a region with good possibilities to lead the development towards future energy systems through solar-, wind and water energy. In addition to natural resources the Gotland region is a hub for innovation, with lots of connections between public, civil and private operators. The Gotland climate enables tests of the technology in different conditions, such as ice and snow. In other words - both the physical and social conditions on Gotland are a good foundation for a successful demonstration project.
Why is the road built between the city of Visby and the airport?
The 4 km road stretch, of which 1,6 km is electrified (800 m in both directions), connects the airport with the city of Visby. The section is selected because it is suitable for system testing during dynamic real life conditions. The electric road lies close to a roundabout, and it includes both straight sections and curves, which enables tests of the vehicles in different situations. The selected section also gives the project the opportunity to cooperate with the company Flygbussarna, with an electric bus in commercial operation as an airport shuttle.
Why is it called ”Smartroad”?
The project was given the name Smartroad Gotland because this truly is a smart technology. The infrastructure is completely passive underneath the road until a vehicle passes over a coil, and the vehicle is identified as a certified receiver of energy. When the vehicle is approved by the system, the energy transfer starts. The identification is done meter by meter, and every section turns on and off in milliseconds. Thereby the infrastructure is completely safe for people and animals crossing the road. The person who crosses the road by foot, bike or another vehicle will not be exposed to electromagnetic fields. The access to real time data makes the system unique and easy to monitor, as well for safety, technical problems or for the possibility to manage a flexible use in case of electric grid limitations. It can also cooperate with systems for autonomous vehicles.
When is the electric road in operation?
The first road stretch was completed in November 2019. Deployment of the following stretches will start during spring 2020 and the road will be completed in autumn 2020. The first tests with the trucks were done in March 2020. The electric bus will be in operation in summer 2020. The project lasts until spring 2022.
What happens when the demonstration project is finished?
When the project is finished the electric road will be dismantled. The management units along the road will be removed. The coils will probably be left in the road, although the question will be investigated during the project. All dismantled material will be recycled or if possible reused.
What are the biggest challenges?
Pioneer projects always mean challenges and for Smartroad Gotland one central issue is to verify and improve the technology’s degree of maturity, since the project is the first of its kind. In this case it means the ability to scale up the production from laboratory scale to mass production and bring the technology from lab tests to test in real life conditions. Another central aspect is to verify that no radiation interfere with the surrounding environment. The security demands in the project are strict and the closeness to the airport means additional demands regarding disturbance for radio traffic and other technical systems.
It is important for the project to continuously show effective interaction and good cooperation with stakeholders, in order to make electric roads a future possibility. To keep the stakeholders satisfied, to meet public interest and reduce public concern, the project organisation has the ambition to be proactive, transparent and provide relevant information about the project progress.
How does the project affect nearby residents?
Since the electric road will have a minimal impact on the surrounding environment, the nearby residents are expected to be neutral or positive to the project. In the long term, electric roads decrease both local emissions and noise, which is positive for people living nearby.
Smartroad Gotland is working in different ways to maintain good relations with the public and to pick up opinions from nearby residents. For example, we organize information meetings and participate in the public political forum Almedalen in Visby, to create trust and avoid misunderstanding. A communication plan has been developed in order to keep continuous contact with different stakeholders. Everyone is welcome to contact the project via email with questions.
How does it work?
Wireless electric road technology is based on induction, with copper coils installed under the roadway. The coils transfer energy to a receiver that can be mounted on any kind of electric vehicle like trucks, buses and cars. The technology enables charging while driving, and by that the need for large batteries is reduced.Wireless electric road technology is based on induction, with copper coils installed under the roadway. The coils transfer energy to a receiver that can be mounted on any kind of electric vehicle like trucks, buses and cars. The technology enables charging while driving, and by that the need for large batteries is reduced.
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What is the difference between inductive and conductive charging?
Inductive charging is done by magnetic fields, which enables wireless charging. Common examples in daily life are an inductive kitchen stove or charging of an electric toothbrush.
Conductive charging on electric roads means that electric energy is transferred from the roadway, from the side or from above, via rails or electric wires, where the electric vehicles connect physically while driving. This technology requires an arm attached to the vehicle that reaches the rail or the cable.
The wireless technology makes the system flexible, cost effective, easy to maintain and it has minimal impact on the surrounding environment.
Electric roads are an important solution in making today’s transport system more sustainable. Conductive solutions can work as a complement to the more flexible inductive electric roads. Conductive technology can be favourable for certain applications, but inductive systems have a larger flexibility regarding areas of use, business models etcetera. Inductive technology is also well suited for autonomous vehicles.
What is the technical lifespan of the infrastructure?
With normal maintenance the coils and other equipment will have an estimated technical lifespan of approximately 40 years.
How does the technology work with snow and ice? Will the test on Gotland demonstrate that?
The energy transfer is not affected by snow and ice. This has been verified in lab environment and will be verified in the project in real life conditions during the following winters.
The ambition is that the test on Gotland will be completed by tests in the northern part of Sweden, in even harder winter conditions.
Is the road dangerous?
Not at all, because of the fact that the road only activates when a licensed vehicle passes over the coils under the roadway. Otherwise the technology is completely passive and will never transfer energy or radiation to unlicensed vehicles, humans or animals passing by. A solid safety work has been done in advance to identify safety routines and energy transfer control, and to make sure that the technology is safe for humans or the environment.
How much does the infrastructure cost?
This project is a cooperation between public and private parties, with a total budget of 116 millions SEK, of which 91 millions SEK is financed by Swedish Transport Administration.
The cost for rebuilding highways to electric highways depends on how long distances will be rebuilt and where they are built. ElectReon’s technology is made to be cost effective for both large and small projects, and is cost competitive compared to other tested technologies. The system is built on a “design to cost”-method which reduces costs over time. Comparison made by Swedish Transport Administration shows that this technology is less expensive compared to alternative solutions.
What is the charging cost per kilometer?
There is no answer to that yet. It depends on the financing model of the electric roads, energy prices, etcetera. But the more vehicles using the road, the lower charging cost per vehicle.
How much power can be transferred?
During 2020 the receivers will be tested with 25 kW in the project, but the ambition is to increase the effect gradually.. The system is developed to be modular andto suit everything from cars to very heavy vehicles. The truck which is used in the project has five receivers (125 kW) and the bus will have three receivers (75 kW).
Is the technology useful in urban environments?
It is perfectly suited for urban locations, both for dynamic, semi dynamic and static charging, regardless if the vehicle is moving or standing still. For example at a bus terminal or at a logistic center, where many vehicles pass.
Why isn’t any vehicle manufacturer a part of the project?
Manufacturers of heavy trucks and buses have shown great interest in the project and are part of the project reference group. Smartroad Gotland is a knowledge- and technology demonstration and manufacturers will possibly take a more central part in the future, regarding standardisation of vehicle components.
Is the system compatible for tunnels?
Since the infrastructure lies beneath the roadway (8 cm under the surface), installing the technology in tunnels will not be a problem. Of course, the road still needs energy supply.
What happens after the project is finished?
The Swedish Transport Administration has started planning for a larger scale deployment on two pilot road stretches for electric roads. They are situated at Örebro-Hallsberg and road 73 from Norvik port to Stockholm. Before the deployment a choice of technology will be made, based on the results from four demonstration projects (Smartroad Gotland is one of them). The Swedish Transport Administration also investigates large scale development of electric highways in Sweden. Currently 3000 kilometers of highway is estimated to be feasible from a national economics perspective.