11 Aug 2020, 11:43
Edgar Meza

Pilot programmes for overhead line truck systems could offer climate action solutions – study

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg (ifeu) has published a study outlining the path for the successful introduction an overhead line truck system in Germany by 2030. The study shows that the establishment of a basic overhead line infrastructure on 3,000 to 4,000 kilometres of heavily travelled motorway sections would allow a high proportion of electrical mileage from overhead line trucks. “The most important thing now is the rapid construction of a larger pilot line,” said Julius Jöhrens, who oversaw the study. A pilot line would offer valuable experience with electrified trucks and make preparations for the establishment of a basic overhead line infrastructure possible, he added. While road freight transport in the future is likely to comprise different technologies, the “challenge is to identify the most favourable fields of application for overhead line truck technology today, despite the uncertainties about the details of the coming technical development”, the ifeu states. Addressing the frequent criticism that instead of expanding overhead line truck network, it would be better to shift freight traffic to railways, Jöhrens said: “The shift is still a central element of environmental and transport policy, as the rail freight transport master plan shows. However, even under optimistic assumptions regarding the transfer, most of the freight traffic will be carried out on the road in the medium and long term. We therefore need solutions for climate protection here."

Three field tests are currently taking place in Germany, financed by the federal environment ministry (BMU): In Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein, five kilometres of Autobahn motorway in each state were electrified at the beginning of 2020, while in Baden-Württemberg, four kilometres of a national highway will have an overhead line system in operation at the beginning of 2021. Trucks and other freight vehicles are the backbone of Germany’s export-driven economy. But rapid growth in traffic volumes is increasing pressure to reach emissions reductions in the transport sector, which already lags behind in fulfilling its climate targets. Over 95 percent of CO₂ emissions in Germany’s transport sector are caused by road traffic, with about one-third caused by long and short-distance road haulage.

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