David Cebon, the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight at Cambridge University, has recently conducted the first step of a government-funded feasibility study into a unique solution to batteries’ reduced energy density. As orignally reported in The Guardian, the study explored how a train-style overhead charging line would be installed on major roadways as part of an electric road system, or e-highway.


Catenary power system

A catenary power system for electric trucks, is being trialled in Germany

Using catenary wires on the road to charge a smaller battery would save money on buying more battery capacity for each vehicle, plus it would be more energy efficient and less destructive to roads because there would be less weight on the move.

Yet, it would require complete government support and an expenditure of (relatively small) £19 billion to cover most of the UK’s freight and bring all but the most distant portions of the UK within reach of the trucks by the late 2030s.

“Our previous research says that overhead catenary power will provide the lowest cost, lowest carbon, and most rapidly deployable solution to decarbonise long-haul road freight in the UK” Professor Cebon explained. ”This project will test the concept at the next level of detail. Moreover, the technologies this consortium is working on could be deployed in most countries once demonstrated, supporting the global move towards greener logistics.”

Other manufacturers and engineering firms such as Siemens and Scania have also extensively investigated this possible technological solution; however, there have been no goverment commitments as of yet.