The technology has the potential to reduce emissions and improve air quality
In mid-June this year, the worldâ€™s first electric highway for trucks opened in Sweden, as the result of the cooperation between Siemens (providing the tech) and Scania (providing the trucks). Now, Siemens has been selected by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to also install the first electric highway in the US. The new electric 1-mile long test strip has been built between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two largest ports in the U.S. Considering that ports in general heavily impact air pollution in the surrounding areas, the development of a zero- or near-zero goods movement system will ameliorate the burdened air quality in Southern California (SCAQMD says that heavy-duty trucks are the number one source of smog-forming emissions in the area). The aim of the project is to demonstrate the eHighway system applied in truck operation on public roads in an urban U.S. setting and to further prepare applications for larger scale initiatives in the future.
According to the company, the California demo will use three big-rig trucks: a battery-electric truck, a natural-gas hybrid truck (both developed by TransPower) and a diesel-hybrid truck (developed by Mack Trucks, a subsidiary of the Volvo Group). The system supplies the trucks with electric power, similar to the way modern-day trolleys or streetcars are powered on many city streets, and includes three components. First, the overhead contact lines make power available to the trucks along a road. Second, an active pantograph installed on the truck allows the transfer of electrical energy from the overhead contact lines to the vehicle. And third, trucks will utilize electric-hybrid drive technology for full electric operation under the contact line but also continuous supply of power when outside of the contact lines from a hybrid engine.
In a statement, SCAQMD executive officer Wayne Nastri said, "This project will help us evaluate the feasibility of a zero-emission cargo movement system using overhead catenary wires. This demonstration could lead to the deployment of eHighway systems that will reduce pollution and benefit public health for residents living near the ports."
â€œEvery day, Americans rely on the goods and services that are carried by freight. But with that mode of transportation predicted to double by 2050, only one-third of this additional travel can be handled by trains despite expansion of rail infrastructure. Experts expect global CO2 emissions from road freight traffic to more than double by 2050,â€ said Andreas Thon, head of Turnkey Projects & Electrification, North America. â€œThis electrified truck system, what we call eHighway, can modernize the existing infrastructure using the latest technology to accommodate the growing amount of freight travel, reduce harmful emissions, and keep these ports, one of our countryâ€™s major economic drivers, competitive.â€
The $13.5 million project is funded with $2.5 million from SCAQMD, as well as $4 million from a settlement with China Shipping, $3 million from the California Energy Commission, $2 million from the Port of Long Beach and $2 million from LA Metro. In addition, Siemens provided a $1.3 million in-kind contribution. SCAQMD is providing an additional $2.1 million and the US EPA is providing $500K for the TransPower contract.