• Much like cable cars, motorways are being looked at for overhead charging for transport vehicles.
  • As part of the Zero emissions scheme, the largest polluters are being targeted first. 

electric long-range trucks targeted.

The Department for Transport has awarded funding through Innovate UK to a consortium to lead the UK’s first-ever study on the electrification of long-range trucks with dynamic charging, using overhead wires on motorways.   

The study is part of the £20m put aside for zero-emission road freight trials under the recently announced Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP).

Costain’s Sue Kershaw, managing director transportation, said: “This study is another important step towards understanding how industry could work together to tackle one of the largest carbon emission producers in the country and create a cleaner, greener and more efficient road freight network across the UK. Bringing our heritage in complex programme delivery and expertise in integrating technology to this consortium is part of our Climate Change Action Plan to implement change and create a green transport future through collaboration.” 

Sue Kershaw
Costain, Managing Director of Transportation

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) currently emit 18% of all road vehicle CO2 emissions, despite only representing 1.2% of the total number of vehicles on the road and 5% of the total miles driven. They are, however, essential to the health of the UK economy, with the new plan citing them as “critical to our economic wellbeing,” transporting 98% of our food, consumer, and agricultural products across the country. Because of the limits of existing technology, the plan says “removing [road freight] emissions require the development and deployment of clean technologies.” 

The 'electric road system’, by Siemens Mobility ‘eHighway’ technology, is the fastest, lowest carbon and most cost-effective route to decarbonising our road freight industry and delivering cleaner air.

These eHighways allow specially adapted trucks to attach to the overhead wires and run using electricity, like rail and trolley-bus systems. The trucks come equipped with a battery that charges while they are in motion so they can detach to both overtake vehicles and reach their destination with zero emissions from start to finish.  

Similar, smaller electric road systems have been trialed in Germany and Sweden, as the UK is the first in the world to consider the format on a larger scale. The project will look at electrifying at least 30km (19 miles) of the M180, linking Immingham Port with the logistics hubs of Doncaster and its airport. The partners plan to take the lessons learned from Europe, and provide technical, economic, and environmental recommendations for installing a proof-of-concept system with a bigger demonstration fleet.  

generating jobs.

A fully operational electric road system across the UK would be expected to create tens of thousands of jobs across a range of green industries, with around 200,000 new electric trucks needing to be built over a 10–15-year period. This will also provide an opportunity to completely revamp the UK truck manufacturing industry and its supply chains. This ability to future-proof should be well received in the wake of the pandemic's impact on industry.

Research shows that initial investments into new vehicles could be recouped within 18 months, due to lower energy costs, and the electrification infrastructure would pay back investors in 15 years.