Electric Road Systems : A feasibility study investigating a possible future of road transportation

University essay from KTH/Energiteknik

Abstract: The transportation sector is a vital part of today’s society and accounts for 20 % of our global total energy consumption. It is also one of the most greenhouse gas emission intensive sectors as almost 95 % of its energy originates from petroleum-based fuels. Due to the possible harmful nature of greenhouse gases, there is a need for a transition to more sustainable transportation alternatives. A possible alternative to the conventional petroleum-based road transportation is implementation of Electric Road Systems (ERS) in combination with electric vehicles (EVs). ERS are systems that enable dynamic power transfer to the EV's from the roads they are driving on. Consequently, by utilizing ERS in combination with EVs, both the cost and weight of the EV-batteries can be kept to a minimum and the requirement for stops for recharging can also be eliminated. This system further enables heavy vehicles to utilize battery solutions. There are currently in principal three proven ERS technologies, namely, conductive power transfer through overhead lines, conductive power transfer from rails in the road and inductive power transfer through the road. The aim of this report is to evaluate and compare the potential of a full-scale implementation of these ERS technologies on a global and local (Sweden) level from predominantly, an economic and environmental perspective. Furthermore, the thesis also aims to explore how an expansion of ERS might look like until the year 2050 in Sweden using different scenarios. To answer these questions two main models (global and Swedish perspective) with accompanying submodels were produced in Excel. The findings show that not all countries are viable for ERS from an economic standpoint, however, a large number of countries in the world do have good prospects for ERS implementation. Findings further indicated that small and/or developed countries are best suited for ERS implementation. From an economic and environmental perspective the conductive road was found to be the most attractive ERS technology followed by overhead conductive and inductive road ERS technologies. The expansion model developed demonstrates that a fast expansion and implementation of an ERS-based transportation sector is the best approach from an economical perspective where the conductive road technology results in largest cost savings until 2050.

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