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 Climate Change

Mobility
Published on: Sept. 29, 2021, 8:09 a.m.
Will India get its first e-highway soon?
  • Electric highways can cut carbon emissions drastically

By Business India Editorial

Are ‘electric highways’ the future of road transport to cut carbon emission?

If we go by reports from Germany, Sweden and the UK, it seems the ‘e-highways’ are on the way. And, first e-highway in India could be between Delhi and Jaipur.

Last week, Union minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said that the Central Government is considering building a 200-km-long futuristic 'electric highway' between Delhi and Jaipur in Rajasthan. 

Gadkari said the first e-highway in India was his ‘dream project’ and is in line with the government’s broader strategy to transition from a fossil-fuel-based automotive sector to electric vehicles. 

The concept of e-highways has come to prominence in recent years in the context of climate change and the need to find ways to cut carbon emission.

The electric vehicles can be charged while they run on an e-highway. It is reported that the model in consideration is that of a pantograph model where a contact arm is located above a freight or electric vehicle, connected to an overhead cable through which an electric current is run. A highway with similar technology has been developed in Germany. 

This model is an alternative to the conduction model where a contact arm for a vehicle is located below it, connecting to a road fitted with an electromagnet. Alternatively, the induction model doesn't involve a contact arm, with vehicles charged through electro-magnetic technology installed beside the road. 

Electric highways are already in use in Germany and Sweden. Sweden, which unveiled its first electrified road in 2018, allows EV batteries fitted in vehicles to charge while they run along it. 

Germany had its first e-highway in 2019. Hybrid trucks can switch entirely to electric propulsion while they travel along the highway, and can switch back to hybrid propulsion once they exit it. The highway, which is in south of Frankfurt, was built by Siemens and runs for a distance of six miles. 

Siemens said in a report that if 30 per cent of Germany’s roads were electrified, carbon emissions could be reduced by seven million tonnes. 

Curbing carbon emissions

There are reports that electric highways projects are underway in the UK and the US as well. A report funded by the UK government published in July 2020 also estimated that carbon emissions could be drastically curbed through the installation of overhead cables on electric highways. 

Though Gadkari sounded positive about the project, he did not divulge any timeline or deadline. “It is still a proposed project. We are in discussion with a foreign company,” he said. Reports say that that the firm in question is Swedish, and that construction of the highway could begin as early as mid-2022. 

In March Gadkari had told the Lok Sabha that there had been discussions on an e-highway proposition along the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway. He said: “Buses and trucks can ply on this e-highway at a speed of 120 kmph and will bring down the logistics cost by 70 per cent.”


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