How E-Highways Could Revolutionise Road Networks

Mon 27th Jul 2020

A £19.3billion plan to electrify the UK’s motorway network could change the face of heavy goods vehicles and save millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions.

By using overhead cables similar to electric trains, the proposal which has been put forward by the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight, has already been trialled by Siemens and Scania in Germany, Sweden and the US and could pay for itself within 15 years according to a report.

By plugging into the National Grid, the system could economically power the 7,000 kilometres of Britain’s motorways and reduce carbon emissions of large lorries. The electricity provided would also be able to recharge an onboard battery which would allow HGVs to travel to destinations beyond the electric network.

The team behind the scheme are now proposing a 40 lane pilot in time for 2025 in order to get the first phase of the project underway.

“This approach is scalable and quick to deploy, using known and available technologies, existing delivery bodies such as National Grid, Highways England and the UK's construction industry and infrastructure supply chains: creating significant employment,” the report says.

“Truck manufacturers including Scania have indicated they can deliver the modified vehicles and have delivered numerous prototypes for demonstration trials around Europe. 

“This White Paper sets out the case for a nationwide rollout of ERS through the 2030s. A total investment in the region of £19.3 billion would be required to electrify almost all the UK's long-haul freight vehicles, corresponding to 65% of road freight movements. 

“The estimated CO2 saving would be 13.4 MtCO2e per annum, along with substantial air quality benefits. The remaining 35% of freight movements are mainly urban deliveries that are expected to move to battery electric lorries over the next 10 years. 

“The investment compares well with the size of other planned infrastructure projects. Work could get underway immediately with an £80 million pilot project in the North East of England.”