New Delhi: Road Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari said in the Lok Sabha last week that India is looking to construct a separate ‘e-highway’ on the 1,250 km long Delhi-Mumbai expressway where trucks and buses can run at a speed of 120 kph.
The project is estimated to bring logistics costs down by 70 percent.
However, the minister did clarify that the final decision is yet to be made. He also noted that Siemens has already used the e-highway technology to build a similar corridor in Germany, which gives us a glimpse into what the e-highway could look like.
Germany tested a new electrified Highway for trucks on a 10km long stretch of the autobahn near the city of Frankfurt. This system is developed by German industrial company Siemens, is in the form of cables suspended over the existing highway that specially-equipped trucks can use to draw power for an electric motor-similar to how trains operate and even recharge their batteries on the go.
100-km stretch of Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway on which Cyrus Mistry died has claimed more than 60 lives this year
The test trucks fitted with batteries and conductor rods called pantographs added to the top of the cabin, travel at the speed of up to 90 mph to make a successful connection with 670-volt direct-current cables.
They draw power from electricity alone when connected and as this is a hybrid system, the trucks can switch back to diesel-powered internal combustion once they leave the electrified stretch.
According to Siemens, technology can be integrated and operated within the existing road infrastructure without significant effort, thereby making it a practical way to reduce emissions and energy consumption in places where railways aren’t feasible.
This system also causes a sharp reduction in emissions of CO2 and nitrogen oxides. Siemens state that the technology will save a 40-ton truck 20,000 euros (Rs 17 lakh) over 100,000km on fuel costs using their system on top of the emissions reduction from electrifying freight vehicles.
In India, the government invited proposals for the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) on major highways and expressways under the second phase of ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles (FAME)’ programme.
This received about 106 proposals to see up about 7000 EV charging stations across the country but the government-sanctioned only 2,877 out of which around 600 charging stations were set up by the public entities until October 2020.
Advance Services for Social and Administrative Reforms’ (ASSAR)- a private firm backed by the central government claimed in July 2019, to convert the 500km expressway along the Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Agra highways into electric corridors with facilities for charging electric vehicles by March 2020.
Last year, the trial run of electric vehicles for the Delhi-Agra e-Corridor was conducted for a month ending on December 25 and the one along the Delhi-Jaipur route will commence in 10 days on April 10, 2021.