Overhead power supply for trucks could be viable, study says

May 10, 2017 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In the recent months, several industry players including Siemens and Daimler came up with the idea of equipping heavy trucks with overhead pantographs to tap electric power lines and thus to enable electric operation. Fraunhofer researchers have fathomed out if and under which circumstances this concept could be viable.

The "Feasibility Study for the Determination of the Potentials of the Hybrid Overhead Line Truck", commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for System and Innovation Research (ISI) along with several partners, shows that trolley trucks can be economically viable, but that some hurdles in terms of infrastructure and acceptance must be overcome beforehand.

 

Road transport is responsible for roughly a third of CO2 emissions from road traffic. To achieve decarbonisation, the overhead line truck is a possible solution. According to the sztudy, such trucks can be economically viable in a mass market if the overhead infrastructure is well developed and used.

 

Due to their higher efficiency compared to diesel trucks, overhead line trucks can contribute decisively to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the strongly growing road-bound freight transport by using electricity from predominantly renewable energy sources, the study concludes. Project manager professor Martin Wietschel from Fraunhofer ISI, says: "To achieve this goal, only the 4,000 to 5,000 kilometers with the highest use of heavy trucks would have to be equipped with overhead lines. The necessary investments of between € 8 and € 12 billion are not particularly high compared to the development of other infrastructures. "

 

However, there are a number of relevant obstacles to the introduction: Above all, the initially unprofitable overhead infrastructure would probably needed to be pre-financed with state support. In addition, the authors recommend a pan-European solution to improve the infrastructure utilization and harmonization of European transport policy.