It was Earth Day this weekend, and this has inspired me to take a slightly different take on the usual blogs here. As great as the development of new tech that makes our lives easier is, the new tech that saves the environment is leaps and bounds more important. In this category, I think that the United States should take a page out of Sweden’s book. They are one of the first countries to come out and give a year by which they have plans to be completely independent from the use of fossil fuels and solely use renewable energy. Recently, the Swedish government unveiled their first plans for a completely emissions-free roadway system.
Whereas many governments have said that they are pushing for citizens to buy electric cars to alleviate dependence on fossil fuels, or only sell electric cars in the upcoming years like Norway and the Netherlands, Sweden is the only one as of now that has actually made strides to make this future a more feasible reality. Around 1.2 miles of electric rail have been built into a public road just outside Stockholm, and plans are in place to expand the project throughout other parts of the country and the world. This rail system is unlike anything else built before, and has the potential to reshape the electric car industry.
This rail system can be built right into existing roads, and thus does not have a high development and installation cost. What the system is is an electrified road that works by transferring energy from the rail through a moveable arm on the bottom of an electric car or truck. As the vehicle moves over the rail, the arm detects its location and moves into contact with it and when overtaking, the arm automatically raises. The rail is then connected to a sectioned power grid which allows the arms to only be powered when actually in use. The whole system can work without having to slow down the car in the slightest, and functions as a normal road for those who do not have an electric car yet. The system also tracks which car is powered by the system at each specific time, and from that bills the drivers for the energy used. In my opinion, the most important aspect of this system is that it would completely nullify the biggest hindrance on electric vehicles today: the range.
Imagine being able to drive from here to California in one go, only stopping when you want to and not having to stop once for gas. And then imagine doing this in a way that is ultimately much better for the environment than with gas. Hypothetically, your electric car would have unlimited range as long as it is driving on roads that are equipped with this system.
As of 2017, the United States consumes almost 20 million barrels of petroleum per day. The electrified road system could drastically cut these numbers. It is still yet to be seen how feasible this electrified road system is, but if it proves to be as effective as it could be, the entire transportation industry could be changed forever. This system could eventually be expanded to include public transport as well as personal transport. We’ve already got smart toilets; its about time that we got smart with the environment.