eRoad Arlanda

Arlanda and Rosersberg, Sweden

SDG 3: Good health and well-beingSDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 14: Life below waterSDG 15: Life on land
eRoad Arlanda tests an electrified road in order to create knowledge needed for a national implementation, the test road connects Arlanda Airport with Rosersberg logistic area, a distance of 10 km of which 2 km are being electrified.

Roughly 10% of Swedish annual CO2 emissions emanate from the transport of goods. The Swedish government has set a goal of fossil fuel-independent transport by 2030. However, road-bound transport is expected to increase with 59% by then. The challenge rests on providing new sustainable means of supporting the growing number of transport vehicles. One innovative technique enabling this ambitious prospect is the construction of electrified roads. Today, electrified vehicles are dependent on large batteries due to the small number of charging stations. If the vision of an electrified Swedish main road network is realised, batteries can be made much smaller and thus more sustainable, because charging batteries at stations will become largely obsolete for vehicles using the main national and regional highways.

eRoad Arlanda tests an electrified road in order to create knowledge needed for a national implementation of this solution. The test road connects Arlanda Airport with Rosersberg logistic area, a distance of 10 km of which 2 km are being electrified. The main vehicles using the road are larger trucks transporting goods, mainly from the state-owned main Swedish postal service PostNord. A large number of participating organisations contribute in various forms to the outcome of the testing area.

With so many actors involved, the consortium is dependent on structured co-operation and joint vision. This is in turn to some extent dependent on personal chemistry and individual engagement. Also, functioning regulations and standards for partnerships such as e-Road Arlanda are not yet sufficiently explored, leaving many questions unanswered.

Another challenge is the fact that potential customers are not demanding electrified roads, partly since it is an innovation and therefore unexpected, and partly for reasons unknown. This has proved a challenge for the mind-set of many of the actors involved because they need to firmly believe in the potential of the solution even without customers considering it.

The concept of innovation procurement poses a challenge due to its complexity, and for example lawyers of NCC are still having difficulties fully understanding what it means. Moreover, future financing is not completely secured because high speed trains are currently receiving more attention regarding funding on a national political level.

Good Practices & Solutions

The Swedish spearheading actors of e-Road Arlanda were Gunnar Asplund of Elways and the large construction company NCC. While Elways was the main innovator and developer of the electrified road technology itself, they lacked resources needed to test the roadway, which was supported by NCC.

After the Swedish Transport Administration procured the innovation of electrified roads from Elways, the prospect took on more large-scale proportions and a consortium was established for developing a test project of electrifying a longer portion of a road. The Dutch company E-Traction was an important actor in this regard because they provided the truck that was first used, whereas the company ABT was given the main responsibility for the group of vehicles. Together they used their expertise to prepare the tests. Sigtuna Municipality leased the road used for testing, previously mainly used by the police.

With many of the main actors being heavily business oriented, the idea of integrating the customer’s perspective into the collaboration project is ever-present. Equally important and common knowledge to most of the actors are the aspects of risk-taking, uncertainties, multi-organisational partnership constellations, and complex problem-solving. These prerequisites significantly aid the progress of e-Road Arlanda. With NCC being the main organising part, their experience and stability in leading projects and multi-organisational partnerships is well needed, apart from their more obvious knowledge on related material aspects such as asphalt and roads: “The facility itself is not rocket science”. The Swedish Transport Administration serves as the main steering and guiding part, but the operations themselves are managed by the various actors according to their specific expertise.

Outcome & Opportunities

Regardless of the final assessment of the test road, the opportunities for scaling up are already relatively clarified. If 5000 km of the most trafficked roads and highways – out of a total of roughly 20 000 km of roads in Sweden – were to be electrified, CO2 emissions from heavy transport is estimated to be reduced by 50%. Furthermore, the new technology would be integrated into existing infrastructure, a welcomed cost-saving procedure. Safety for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike is believed to be further enhanced by e-roads, particularly when combined with autonomous vehicles.

Lessons learned & Recommendations

In a consortium of such a variety of actors and routines, it is especially necessary to be precise and clear when formulating ideas and statements. When dealing with a large spectrum of competences, it is essential to try and remain a specialist and not act as a general expert. Keeping the consortium well functioning is key because innovation projects tend to attract the attention of naysayers and sceptics, and allowing the partnership to suffer or funding money to run out could mean a backlash from outside disrupting the progress and perhaps even halting the very implementation of the innovation itself. For similar reasons, keeping good relations and dialogue with key public authorities is essential because the success of the project is dependent on their approval.

Patience is considered another virtue to technology innovation because testing processes require unusual amounts of time before generating productive outcomes, and every step taken needs to be verified: “Expect the unexpected”.

An important lesson learned is that Sweden traditionally puts much faith in the vehicle industry, with large companies like Scania and Volvo. However, due to their primary interest in selling as many of their old models as possible before they become out-dated, they were not considered as partners in e-Road Arlanda. Instead, infrastructure and transportation actors were the ones mainly approached.

Related SDGs
Further reading

eRoad Arlanda

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Project: Stockholm Co-creation