This is how electric lorries could soon be running on a motorway near Doncaster

News that lorries powered by overhead electric power lines could soon be driving on a motorway near Doncaster has been given a mixed response with scepticism on how the project could work.

By Darren Burke
Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 11:12 am
Trucks powered by electric cables could soon be travelling on a motorway connecting Doncaster.
Trucks powered by electric cables could soon be travelling on a motorway connecting Doncaster.

But how would the project work – and what’s the reasoning behind it?

The E-Highway would see overhead cables installed on a 12 mile stretch of motorway.

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On the route, lorries fitted with rigs called pantographs – similar to those used by trains and trams – would be able to tap into the electricity supply to power electric motors.

Lorries would also have a smaller battery to power them over the first and last legs of the journey off the motorway.

Siemens and Scania have already tested their e-highway systems in Germany, Sweden and the US and the government will fund the design of the scheme as part of a series of studies on how to decarbonise road freight.

The electric road system study, backed with £2m of funding, will draw up plans to install overhead cables – and if the designs are accepted and building work is funded the trucks could be on the road by 2024.

Road freight is one of the hardest parts of the economy to decarbonise, because no technology exists yet on a large scale that is capable of powering long-haul lorries with zero direct exhaust emissions.

The e-highway study is one of several options that will be funded, along with a study of hydrogen fuel cell trucks and battery electric lorries, the Department for Transport has announced.

The project is led by Costain, an infrastructure construction company that also operates some UK motorways, using trucks built by Sweden’s Scania and electric technology from Germany’s Siemens that is already in use in smaller-scale trials there, Sweden and the US.

The M180 route, which connects Scunthorpe and Doncaster, has been chosen to link Doncaster Sheffield Airport as well as docks and industrial areas at Immingham in Lincolnshire as well as Humber freight.