Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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KeithW
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

Post by KeithW »

Mark Hewitt wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 09:50 Inductive pickup. As in wires buried in the road, is probably an order of magnitude less efficient than the direct connection you get from overhead wires, but it would mean the infrastructure can continue to be used as normal.
But waste massive amounts of power much of which is generated by burning natural gas in Combined Cycle Gas Turbines. This could actually INCREASE CO2 emissions and then there are all the potential maintenance problems of burying high voltage cables under a road surface being pounded by 40 ton HGV's. What is really needed is a fuel cell that can run on methane (natural gas). A number of options are being being looked at on Teesside right now including CCGT generation with the CO2 being captured in undersea aquifers along with surplus off peak power from offshore wing=d farms to produce hydrogen fr fuel cells. There is another pilot running in Norway using hydro electric power.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Vierwielen wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 13:07 I understand that the Council of European standard for maximum heights of vehicles is 4 metres and superstructure clearances to be 4.5 metres. Countries may, within their own territory have a greater maximum height and in the UK, the maximum is 5.03 metres (formerly 16 feet). This implies that power lines in Germany will be between 4 and 4.5 metres above ground level, but in the UK they will have to be over 5 metres above ground level. This could make for some interesting stadnards discussions.
Don't forget to add on the gap needed to stop arcing from the wire to the top of the vehicle. Not sure what the absolute limits are on pantograph travel but they have to cope with wires that are higher than normal over level crossings and ones that are lower under some bridges or in tunnels, so different heights of overhead wires are not a problem.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Mark Hewitt wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 09:50 Inductive pickup. As in wires buried in the road, is probably an order of magnitude less efficient than the direct connection you get from overhead wires, but it would mean the infrastructure can continue to be used as normal.
Where does the "order of magnitude" come from? A quick search finds inductive charging is about 85-97% efficient (97% was under experimental conditions).

But both inductive and overhead systems run into the same problem of being extremely expensive and at risk of being rapidly rendered obsolete by technological advances, eg if the Tesla semi truck and similar are successful. Any pantograph or inductive truck is going to have to have a reasonable sized battery to get to locations off the electrified motorway network or it will suffer the same problem as an electric train ie not offer sufficient flexibility. Once you've done that it's easy to see another step making the whole electric roadway superfluous.

Still worth investigating, but not massively promising in my opinion.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Pendlemac wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 22:45
Vierwielen wrote: Fri Jul 30, 2021 13:07 I understand that the Council of European standard for maximum heights of vehicles is 4 metres and superstructure clearances to be 4.5 metres. Countries may, within their own territory have a greater maximum height and in the UK, the maximum is 5.03 metres (formerly 16 feet). This implies that power lines in Germany will be between 4 and 4.5 metres above ground level, but in the UK they will have to be over 5 metres above ground level. This could make for some interesting stadnards discussions.
Don't forget to add on the gap needed to stop arcing from the wire to the top of the vehicle. Not sure what the absolute limits are on pantograph travel but they have to cope with wires that are higher than normal over level crossings and ones that are lower under some bridges or in tunnels, so different heights of overhead wires are not a problem.
Coping with level crossings that have overhead wires for electric trains could be interesting.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Vierwielen wrote: Wed Aug 04, 2021 16:29
Pendlemac wrote: Mon Aug 02, 2021 22:45 Don't forget to add on the gap needed to stop arcing from the wire to the top of the vehicle. Not sure what the absolute limits are on pantograph travel but they have to cope with wires that are higher than normal over level crossings and ones that are lower under some bridges or in tunnels, so different heights of overhead wires are not a problem.
Coping with level crossings that have overhead wires for electric trains could be interesting.
I would expect that overhead wires would just stop for the duration of any unusual hazard like that. Unlike OHLE on railways, the vehicles using them aren’t solely reliant on receiving power from the wires and will be fully capable of travelling under their own battery power. So at a level crossing you’d just leave a gap.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Not too many level crossings on motorways are there?
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Given we have 2,200 miles of motorway, and two of our most truck intensive corridors are mostly A roads (the A14 and A55 which only have limited sections resembling proper motorways), something tells me this isn't going to be as good as the techbros are making out.

Also, can't imagine smart motorways having a concrete barrier down the verge to protect the OHLE equipment going down well with the "they're already dangerous because you can't escape off Lane 1" crowd.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Chris5156 wrote: Wed Aug 04, 2021 17:07I would expect that overhead wires would just stop for the duration of any unusual hazard like that. Unlike OHLE on railways, the vehicles using them aren’t solely reliant on receiving power from the wires and will be fully capable of travelling under their own battery power. So at a level crossing you’d just leave a gap.
Yes ... and likewise any overbridges or tunnels with insufficient clearance, or potentially bridges or viaducts that don't have suitable mounting points for the stanchions ... from that point of view, it is more straightforward than railway electrification because it's absolutely fine for it to be discontinuous ... when the pantograph loses contact with the wire, it automatically retracts and the lorry runs off the battery until such time as the OHLE returns and the driver raises the pantograph again.

An interesting discussion from Gareth Dennis, a leading (and often outspoken!) railway engineer yesterday. His view was that electrification of one lane of motorways and key A roads like this could work, there are no insurmountable technical problems ... the biggest barriers will be:
1️⃣ high installation and operating cost, and the difficulty of putting in place a suitable charging scheme to recoup that money (it isn't like a charging station for an electric car where you have a handshake or payment authorisation before the electrons start flowing),
2️⃣ uncertain takeup rates ... how quickly will truckers buy compatible vehicles, if there is a progressive rollout? Not much point in buying a lorry that only has a 60-mile battery range if the only motorways that have been wired are the M180 and M62, so there would need to be a pretty rapid and extensive rollout before you would expect to see any significant takeup, but
3️⃣ we have a serious shortage of engineers capable of doing this work. This is one of the reasons why railway electrification has been so painfully slow over the last few years ... and diverting engineers from railway electrification to motorway electrification will slow that down even further, which is a bad situation to be in.

So his conclusion is that while technically it is possible, practically it has difficulties and it probably shouldn't be a priority ... all subject to seeing outcomes of the trial period.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Tom Scott did a video on Germany's electric highways earlier this week, which was quite interesting and he mentioned that the UK should only have the next years years to make a decision on what technology we are going to use to power HVGs to meet our targets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3P_S7p ... l=TomScott

And today NH released a video outlining their ambitions to net carbon zero. In which they mentioned the path taken to remove fossil fuel HVGs is unclear. Either batteries, overhead power delivery or hydrogen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_JRJPP ... alHighways
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Hydrogen is the best option. Batteries have a limited range and take too long to charge. Overhead catenary is expensive and those currently in use only cover one lane of a dual carriageway. Hydrogen has the advantage of a much quicker refilling time than batteries and offers similar payloads in commercial vehicles as ICE engines, something batteries fail miserably on.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Truvelo wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 20:38 Hydrogen is the best option. Batteries have a limited range and take too long to charge. Overhead catenary is expensive and those currently in use only cover one lane of a dual carriageway. Hydrogen has the advantage of a much quicker refilling time than batteries and offers similar payloads in commercial vehicles as ICE engines, something batteries fail miserably on.
Overhead catenary wires have their place - very useful for trucks that are coupled together and run on iron roads.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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jervi wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 13:16 Tom Scott did a video on Germany's electric highways earlier this week, which was quite interesting and he mentioned that the UK should only have the next years years to make a decision on what technology we are going to use to power HVGs to meet our targets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3P_S7p ... l=TomScott
The technology seems pretty impressive - I'd rather know more about the safety features - what happens if the HGV is hit by another and is forced out of lane, for example, or if high wind cause it to topple?
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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Vierwielen wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 23:34
Truvelo wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 20:38 Hydrogen is the best option. Batteries have a limited range and take too long to charge. Overhead catenary is expensive and those currently in use only cover one lane of a dual carriageway. Hydrogen has the advantage of a much quicker refilling time than batteries and offers similar payloads in commercial vehicles as ICE engines, something batteries fail miserably on.
Overhead catenary wires have their place - very useful for trucks that are coupled together and run on iron roads.
One of the most common ‘excuses’ I hear for train delays on the East Coast Main Line is ‘overhead line problems’. Usually in connection with windy winds, wet rain or cold ice. ( hot sun causes track problems). And that is where locos are a set height and in constant contact with cables and don’t indulge in overtakes. Also imagine the carbon footprint of building the gantries. Hopefully this idea won’t be picked up in the Uk.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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2 Sheds wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 16:46
Vierwielen wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 23:34
Truvelo wrote: Thu Oct 28, 2021 20:38 Hydrogen is the best option. Batteries have a limited range and take too long to charge. Overhead catenary is expensive and those currently in use only cover one lane of a dual carriageway. Hydrogen has the advantage of a much quicker refilling time than batteries and offers similar payloads in commercial vehicles as ICE engines, something batteries fail miserably on.
Overhead catenary wires have their place - very useful for trucks that are coupled together and run on iron roads.
One of the most common ‘excuses’ I hear for train delays on the East Coast Main Line is ‘overhead line problems’. Usually in connection with windy winds, wet rain or cold ice. ( hot sun causes track problems). And that is where locos are a set height and in constant contact with cables and don’t indulge in overtakes. Also imagine the carbon footprint of building the gantries. Hopefully this idea won’t be picked up in the Uk.
Part of the problem on the ECML was the original electrification was done on the cheap. Other than environmental issues wind or ice, the problem are often at points, if the wires are misaligned they can snag.

Trucks won't have that problem as the trucks will switch to battery to change lanes. As for this country you are too late, OHLE is already installed on the M180

Rail electrification could be done much cheaper if a similar idea was applied, the main running lines have OHLE but points, connections and maybe some stations don't. A battery on the train will be expected to power the train through isolated sections.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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JohnnyMo wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 17:14 Rail electrification could be done much cheaper if a similar idea was applied, the main running lines have OHLE but points, connections and maybe some stations don't. A battery on the train will be expected to power the train through isolated sections.
One of the most important things about comparing road and rail in respect of freight trasnsport is the relative costs. In most cases, the cost of transport per tonne-kilometre by rail is a lot cheaper than the equivalent cost by road. However loading and unloading also has a cost. Except in very rare cases such as delivery of coal to a power station, the normal routine is for a container to be loaded at the factory and then to be transported by HGV out of the factory gate. At the other end an HGV enters the warehouse gate and unloads the container. Between the two there is the trade-off of the cost of transferring the container from the HGV to a train and then back onto another HGV against the lower cost per tonne-kilometre when using rail. Many years ago I recall reading that the cut-over point was for journeys of about 800 km, though this might well have changed. At the time, rail transport was uneconomic in the UK but made sense between the Midlands and the Mediterranean cost.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

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JohnnyMo wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 17:14As for this country you are too late, OHLE is already installed on the M180
I don't think anything's been installed anywhere in the UK. That article says a trial "could start in 2024". It doesn't say wires have gone up.
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Re: Germany opens its first electric highway for trucks

Post by Vierwielen »

There was a picture of the overhead wirs in today's Times. Each truck cab appears to have two pantographs, each about one metre in length while the two overhead wires were about 1.2 metres apart. Only one lane was serviced with these overhead wires. There was no comment other than a picture caption.
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