Page 19 - Commercial Vehicle Engineer - October 2021
P. 19

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
However, for this to happen would require government support for the ERS system. One of the aims of the current trial to prove that it is safe – the German and Swedish studies have had no issues with safety – that it can be maintained effectively, and emergency services would be able access it.
“The government won’t be willing to do it until it is proven,” Cebon says. “If
it is proven and Highways England is convinced, for example, then they will be willing to go with it.
“The infrastructure could be privately financed, and in our model the private investor would make money on it. The truck operators make money as their operation is cheaper, the infrastructure provider makes money by selling electricity and the government gets almost all of its tax revenue back.
“That all happens because it is energetically efficient, so it is low cost to run, it is good for the environment as it uses the least amount of energy, and it is good for the economy. It seems like a no brainer, but we must prove this with the trial.”
RESILIENCE
As mentioned, the resilience of the system needs to be proved, but Cebon doesn’t believe this will be a significant barrier.
“Highways England and their contractors will need to learn how
to maintain these systems but that is included in our model – we have numbers for how much that will cost from the German installations.”
He adds that the system is resilient. “The trucks that would run on the electric cables also have batteries in them so when they come off the electric road they can get to their depot on battery power,” he says. “They would be able to run about 50 miles on battery power.
“It means that if the cables are knocked out, they can still drive to the next section. These roads are typically built in four- kilometre sections, so if one is knocked out you can easily drive to the next one.
“It is designed to be failsafe. If the cables fail, they get pulled up, not down, so they don’t go onto the road. There are a lot of safety considerations that have gone into this; the system automatically shuts off if a cable gets broken. There have been no problems with failures elsewhere – we don’t see overhead cables on trains or trams failing.
“Although it looks a bit wacky, if you stand on the test track and see these vehicles they are quiet, clean and it just works. People see the idea an immediately recoil from it and think ‘that’s stupid, why would you do that?’ but then you see it in operation and its obvious that’s exactly what you do.”
FUTURE
The feasibility study will continue until about April 2022, and after that the DfT will decide whether to go ahead with
the trial. “I suspect it would take some time before they decide to go ahead or not,” Cebon says. “If they go ahead, we would start on the serious engineering by
“It is low cost to run, it is good for the environment as it uses the least amount of energy, and it is good for the economy”
the middle or end of 2022, and see some construction in 2023 and the trial running in 2024 or 2025.”
Cebon reckons that, if the system is approved by the government for national rollout, the plans laid out in its white paper could be achieved by 2040. “By then, you would have it around the country and a lot of vehicles will have converted as it would be worth their while to do so.
“It is possible to do this by the diesel phase out period we think, based on realistic expectations of how long it takes to install this. We have to crack on with it.”
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