The total electrification of the transport sector is needed to combat the effects of climate change. However, while the introduction of electric vehicles for passenger transport is gradually increasing, heavy vehicles continue to be almost exclusively dependent on fossil fuels. Although lorries only represent 5% of the vehicles that circulate by road in the European Union, they are responsible for over 25% of total CO2 emissions, a fact that shows the need to progress in the decarbonisation of the sector.
To achieve this objective, it is vital to equip motorways with infrastructure that meets the future demand of electrical mobility, a challenge on which the Centre for Technological Innovation in Static Converters and Drives (CITCEA) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) is working as part of the FuChar research project.
The initiative is focused on planning the electricity grid and the design of the charging infrastructure on motorways, for passenger vehicles and heavy vehicles, to minimise the costs associated with integrating electric transport into the network. In this respect, researchers are working to develop methods and tools to optimally integrate the charging infrastructure into the distribution network. For this purpose, patterns of transport, user behaviour and charging profiles of electric vehicles are analysed. In addition, alternative systems to improve the use and flexibility of the charging structure are investigated.
Overhead lines as recharging infrastructure
In the first phase of the study, scenarios of electrification using different charging technologies − inductive, overhead line and traditional charge points – were assessed using past data from a section of the E18 motorway in the south of Norway to predict charging in medium voltage substations. These simulations provide important data on the use of overhead lines as charging technology.
The next steps in the research are to add a cost-benefit analysis of the various solutions studied, considering future mobility scenarios in urban environments, with the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the shared use of vehicles and the increase in the number of passengers in public transport.
Fuchar is a four-year project that will be completed in 2022. It is funded by the Norwegian Research Council for Science under the leadership of the SINTEF research centre. The first results of the study have been published recently in the scientific journal 'Energies'.