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Electric Road Systems could play crucial role in achieving Climate Goals: PIARC

Overall the study concluded that ERS has the potential to play a major role in the decarbonisation of road transport, but in the short term is most likely to be adopted by specific parties to meet localised needs rather than a universal solution. 

Devdiscourse News Desk Abu Dhabi
Updated: 09-10-2019 11:14 IST
Electric Road Systems could play crucial role in achieving Climate Goals: PIARC

Miguel Caso Flórez, PIARC Technical Director, presenting the Special Project on #Electric Road Systems Image Credit: @PIARC_Roads

The World Road Association (PIARC) in a study has concluded that electric road systems can play a crucial role in the decarbonisation of the Road Transport helping governments to meet their greenhouse gas emissions. The findings of the report were shared by the PIARC Technical Director Mr. Miguel Caso Flórez on Tuesday in the 26th World Road Congress being held in Abu Dhabi.

"Sweden has established courageous & ambitious targets to achieve Climate Goals goals through decarbonisation of road transport - 70% reduction by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2045. Electric Road Systems will play a major role & will be integrated with other systems," said Miguel Caso Flórez.

The findings of the study conducted by the PIARC titled - Electric Road Systems: A Solution for the Future - suggest that electric vehicles will play a major role in the future of road transport. While commercial electric vehicles exist their uptake has been limited due to high purchase costs, limited battery range, and a lack of charging convenience. Furthermore, while developments are underway, electric and hybrid drive trains are yet to be efficiently integrated with heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). A novel way to overcome such challenges is Electric Road Systems; a branch of technologies that allow vehicles to charge while in motion. Limited information exists regarding the comparative performance of ERS solutions, market readiness, costs, and implementation issues. To this end, the World Road Association (PIARC) commissioned TRL to undertake a state-of-the-art review and feasibility study of ERS concepts; focusing on ERS implementation from the perspective of a road administration.

The study had three interlinked phases

  1. state-of-the-art review and stakeholder engagement,
  2. technological and implementation feasibility assessment, and
  3. exploring the business model for ERS uptake.

A review of stationary charging and other alternatives to fossil fuel propulsion technologies was also undertaken. The study adopted a global perspective, engaging with key stakeholder (road administrations, researchers, ERS developers, freight industry) from countries across the economic spectrum through an online survey and interviews with relevant experts. This informed the review, highlighting stakeholder views on benefits, limitations and barriers to development/implementation. A total of 17 viable ERS systems were identified. These are split into three categories: inductive (wireless); conductive rail; and conductive overhead. The majority of inductive ERS have a technology readiness level (TRL) between TRL3-4; with few systems advancing beyond TRL6. Conductive counterparts are more mature, typically between TRL4-5, with some systems between TRL6-8. All three types of ERS are undergoing road trials of some form, with rapid advancements in the last 5 years.

All three concepts are technologically feasible, providing comparable and unique advantages/limitations. For instance, conductive systems are better placed and ready to support the power requirements of heavy goods vehicles. Whereas inductive ERS are generally more suited to vehicles with lower power requirements and cannot deliver at efficiencies equal to conductive systems. Risk assessments of each technology were undertaken, with results suggesting the majority of risks are'low to very low'. Conductive rail solutions, however, were inherently riskier due to: the presence of an open live conductor on high-speed roads; and their impact on road maintenance activities. Concerns arise over the impact of any type of system that is integrated into the pavement structure, regarding durability, future maintenance and safety. Interoperability, within and across ERS categories does not currently exist.

(With inputs from PIARC)

For more stories on the 26th World Road Congress, please visit Live Discourse