Electric Road Systems for Trucks

University essay from KTH/Energisystemanalys

Abstract: An increased use of electricity in vehicles is considered an alternative to decrease the usage of fossil fuels. For private cars, plug-in electric vehicles using batteries are continuously being improved. However, the battery technology of today is not sufficient for trucks if they are to use only electricity. The battery technology is not sufficient to be able to supply the truck with enough propulsion energy to perform an entire drive. However, the hybrid drive technology enables a power recovery and charges the battery when the vehicle applies its brakes. The fuel usage can thereby be decreased through the energy recovery. This master thesis examines the potential of electric road systems, ERSs, which enables a continuous electricity supply to the vehicle when in motion. Similar technologies as an ERS has been used for a long time for trams, trolleybuses and trains, and historically there have also existed cases of electric truck systems. In this thesis the potential for ERSs is examined from the haulage contractor companies’ perspective, which would be users of this system. The potential is in regard to the energy usage per km, the CO2 emissions per km and the cost per km for an ERS vehicle (a hybrid vehicle using an ERS) compared to a hybrid vehicle and to a conventional vehicle. The cost per km includes energy cost, cost for using the ERS infrastructure and the additional vehicle cost. The method used in this study was first to create a broad picture of the concept of ERSs through reading articles, reports, web pages and through conducting interviews with stakeholders within the ERS market. The second part of the method was to create a technology model and an economic model. The models investigate the potential for ERSs through three different cases: a Distribution Case, a Long-Haulage Case and a Mining Case. For all three cases, the energy usage, the cost and the CO2 emissions per km for using a conventional vehicle, a hybrid vehicle and ERS vehicle were generated. Four alternative future scenarios were also tested, in which factors such as energy costs and infrastructure costs were varied. The results show the energy usage, the CO2 emissions and the profitability from the haulage contractor companies’ perspective. The results show that ERSs are not profitable for the Distribution Case in any of the tested scenarios. For the Long-Haulage Case, however, it is profitable in four out of the five tested scenarios. The Mining Case shows mixed profitability results, many times being just above or just below profitable. The energy usage decreased for all the cases and scenarios. Because of this, in combination with the relatively clean electricity production in Sweden, the decrease in CO2 emissions is very large. The 3 conclusions from this thesis are therefore that long-haulage routes show great potential for using ERSs, mining cases have some potential for using ERSs and if distribution routes are to use ERSs this would be only for lowered fossil fuel usage and environmental purposes. 

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