– As petrol and diesel get phased out
and batteries become better and cheaper
electric trucks are slowly starting to become a thing.
But the trouble is you need a massive battery in each truck,
plus the infrastructure to charge them all.
It’d be great if you could somehow charge up electric trucks
while they’re on the move.
Well, the world already has a proven, tested solution
for sending power to massive, fast-moving vehicles.
Electric trains have pulled power from overhead wires
for more than a century.
So why not put those wires
over the first lane of a highway
and let trucks connect to it while they’re on the move?
– So it’s been running for 21 months now
and will be at least for the next year.
The full-scale scenario for Germany
would be to equip 1/3 of the German highway network
and that could reduce
2/3 of the greenhouse gas emissions by heavy trucks.
But for sure, there are pros and cons in the real world,
and we want to be sure before we are going into the future with such a system.
There were a lot of safety concerns in the beginning,
so we had to discuss everything with fire brigade and police and so on.
We have the voltage level of a tram
and the electromagnetic fields are lower than on a tram,
so that isn’t an issue.
Overtaking is absolutely no problem!
You just set the indicator or leave the lane
and the pantograph will automatically drop down immediately
and they are free to go.
So in that part,
a battery or the combustion engine will take over,
and you will have the full power without interruption.
– One of the things that’s really obvious sitting here
is that the technology works.
Like, we’re running off grid power now
and it’s really, really quiet in here.
There are two main uses for big trucks like this.
One is last mile delivery,
picking up lots of items from warehouses
and taking them out to individual shops.
Most of that is going to be away from the trunk road network,
so eHighway wouldn’t work for that,
but those trucks tend to take shorter journeys anyway,
and they’re sitting idle at night.
So those could charge at the depot.
The other use for big trucks
is taking containers from ports to warehouses,
or from one depot to another.
Almost all of that traffic goes along big trunk roads like this,
and that could all be converted to run straight from the grid
with batteries taking a couple of miles at each end.
Roll that out,
and suddenly you’re replacing a lot of diesel.
– What you’re doing is
bringing the electrons to the vehicle in a cable,
rather than trying to carry them in a box in a battery.
It’s the most efficient solution,
the most efficient use of energy.
We think that it’s possible
for the system to pay for itself.
It’s possible to set an electricity price sufficiently cheap for the truck operator
that the lower costs will pay for the additional costs of the lorry
in about a year and a half, something like that.
And we think that it’s possible to use
some of the money that comes back from electricity sales
to pay the infrastructure provider
in a way which will make that
an investment that’s fundable by private finance.
And we think there is enough money left on top of that
我们认为 除此之外 还有足够的资金
to pay a tax to the government to replace fuel tax.
Where you’ve got real difficulties is some of these journeys
into really remote parts of the country.
And there’s a strong case for saying, look,
in some of those journeys, let’s have a hybrid vehicle.
But the majority of the system
works very well on very efficient electricity,
and you can do it quickly.
So I think that’s an attractive thing to do if you can.
– We’ve had more than a century to develop delivery infrastructure
that’s based around combusting fossil fuels,
and that’s going to end in the next couple of decades.
Britain is planning to ban
the sale of new petrol and diesel trucks by 2040,
which sounds like the far future,
but it’s actually only 18 years away.
The rest of Europe won’t be far behind
and building those wires above enough roads
could take up most of that time,
if that’s the solution that’s chosen.
So right now we know the basic technology does work.
That’s what’s been tested here,
but a lot of things that technically work can’t be built economically.
If we want to keep to that date,
then the UK has somewhere around three to five years
to figure out if this is just a gimmick
or whether it’s worth investing the billions
that it’ll take to roll this out.
Personally, I try not to give predictions about the future,
but I wouldn’t be too surprised
if those wires become part of everyday life on the road
in the next couple of decades.
– As petrol and diesel get phased out