In an OP-ED dated 20/7, Sten Nordin and Ulla Hamilton, together with 10 municipal politicians, suggest to build a high-speed railroad along the E4 is an opportunity without major interference in nature, the environment and communities. We share the view that heavy traffic has to be electrified more, but it can be done in a much cheaper way.
If you want to maximize the environmental benefit at lowest possible cost and if you want to free up capacity on the existing rail network, instead of considering high-speed rail, you should provide parts of the road network with overhead power wires similar to those used for trolleybuses.
Electric highways should not be seen as a competitor to the railroad but as a complement. It should also be investigated in collaboration with the Swedish Rail administration and the Swedish Road Administration.
Only the major roads, which act as the pulse edges of heavy traffic, need to be electrified. Here, the state has to take on the responsibility for the electrification of the road network, in order for the automotive industry to dare to shift the technology of wire buses into the entire heavy fleet of vehicles.
Unlike the expansion of normal roads, the state has the opportunity to earn money on the supply of electricity, as does Svenska Kraftnät. So, even if big investments are needed in the beginning, both the environment and the treasury will be a winner.
Electric roads are quite right in time. It is technically feasible since no new technology needs to be developed without proven technology being used in a new way. What is needed is that Sweden shows the example which then the rest of the EU and its values can follow.
Electric roads are of national interest since 97 percent of today's electricity is free from carbon dioxide and that oil is both about to end and emits carbon dioxide that affects the climate. By investing in highways, society can turn from being an oil-based civilization to becoming a long-term sustainable civilization.
Today, there is no sustainable solution to carbon dioxide emissions from heavy traffic. Electric highways mean that while helping to meet the environmental goals, Sweden's industrial transport is made independent of imported oil. It should be of highets priority from business, environmental and geopolitical security perspective.
Sweden can show that highway electrification is a functioning, environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to fossil operation of heavy vehicles. We can lay the foundation for a new base industry and an export product that will be needed in the rest of the world.
Professor of Innovation Technology and
CEO, Gävleborgs Grävkonsult