23 Mar 2020, 14:06
Freja Eriksen

Power lines for trucks could save a fifth of German road freight emissions – study

Clean Energy Wire

A 3,200-kilometre network of overhead power lines (catenary) for hybrid trucks would cut Germany's road freight emissions by a fifth each year, according to a study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu). In this scenario, a truck which can be connected to overhead power lines will emit half as much CO2 by 2030 as a truck running on diesel, with emissions from the vehicle production, infrastructure and power generation included. The study, which was conducted by ifeu, Fraunhofer IEE, IKEM and PTV Transport Consult, estimates that the envisioned network of overhead power lines on the busiest parts of Germany's autobahn would require investments of about €7 billion over 10 years. It would, however, gradually become "financially self-sustaining". "Our calculations show that after about 10 to 15 years the system could be financed by the operating costs saved by the users," said Julius Jöhrens, a researcher at ifeu.

In May last year, Germany opened its first public autobahn test track for overhead power line e-trucks. 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 96 percent of CO₂ emissions in Germany’s transport sector were caused by road traffic in 2019. In 2016, about one-third of the country's road traffic emissions were caused by long and short-distance road haulage.

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