Online Transportation – Trucks under overhead wires on the highway: a cost-effective climate solution for Flanders

BDERCHEM (B) – Trucks that take electricity from overhead wires on a motorway are also a way for Flanders to make road freight transport independent of fossil fuels. This is evidenced by the interim results of the VIL Logibat project, in which 30 companies participate. Research by partner VIL UA shows that every euro invested in this climate solution today can generate up to €8.3 over 20 years.

So-called Catenary Electric Road Systems (ERS), trucks equipped with a sim like a train or tram, not only make it possible to drive without emissions under overhead wires, but at the same time the trucks batteries can be charged while driving. In this way, it offers a potential addition to fixed charging points for trucks in warehouses and along highways.


Due to the amazing development of battery technology, the electric battery truck can make a cost-effective and significant contribution down the road. Moreover, increasingly stringent regulations and mounting pressure to become more sustainable are forcing the logistics sector to think again. “In the Logibat project, VIL is studying the operational and economic conditions to make battery-electric transportation possible and what are the requirements to launch a nationwide charging network, whether in shippers, warehouses or at (semi) public stations,” Sophie says. Delannoy, Project Leader at VIL

UA Account Form for ERS

ERS can be part of the solution to launch a nationwide trucking network. Transport economist Raimonds Aronietis of the UA has developed an algorithm specifically for Flanders. This model takes into account, among other things, the arrangement of the road network, the distribution of logistics nodes and industrial cities, the volume of traffic on Flemish highways, and the performance of various
Vehicle technologies and their economic characteristics, catenary system construction costs, energy prices etc.

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Relatively modest investment for comprehensive coverage

“The investment for universal coverage in Flanders is less than $2 billion. That sounds like a lot, but with 0.8% of GDP in Flanders, it is rather modest,” said Raymonds Aronites of UA.

The network will also benefit greatly from its use by international freight traffic. It can be a profitable way to decarbonize freight by road, for both carriers and the network operator. This is due to lower energy and investment costs compared to diesel and other alternative technologies. The lower investment cost is due to the ability to outfit the trucks with smaller battery packs compared to conventional battery powered trucks.

Calculations show that with the wide spread of a network of overhead lines, even with the smallest battery capacity of 100 kWh, all industrial sites in Flanders will remain accessible.

Flanders must not miss this boat

Siemens Mobility, one of the participating companies, would like to be able to apply these findings. “As a technology company with a long tradition in electrification of rail transport, we have been developing ‘electronic highways’ for more than 10 years. We have already learned a lot from tests on German motorways and from research in the UK, Canada, Sweden and more. We are pleased that “eHighways” is now clearly feasible and profitable in Flanders as well. Our neighboring countries see this solution as a way to make freight traffic more climate friendly
to make. A number of large projects have already been developed in Germany and this is being closely scrutinized in the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom, among others. We hope Flanders do not miss the boat. Today it is already possible to search for the most suitable routes for similar projects, for example in the vicinity of our ports,” says Paul Cappie, CEO of Siemens Mobility NV.

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