Scientific monitoring of a test route for trucks powered by overhead lines in the Murgtal

The discussion about transforming the transport sector is increasingly focused on heavy goods traffic: This contributes a major share of greenhouse gas and local emissions and is continuing to grow. An interesting alternative to today’s diesel trucks are electric or hybrid ones powered by overhead lines. In the eWayBW project, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment is funding construction of a test route in the Murgtal near Karlsruhe from September 2017. There are still many unresolved questions concerning the operation of such trucks, mainly with regard to acceptance issues and impacts on the energy sector. A consortium coordinated by Fraunhofer ISI is studying these and other research questions as part of the scientific accompanying research.

So far, the planned construction routes for testing trucks powered by overhead lines are along highways in Schleswig-Holstein and Hessen. In contrast, the project in Baden-Wuerttemberg, which is directed by the Ministry of Transport Baden-Wuerttemberg and conducted together with a variety of practitioners, is planned for the B462, a busy main road between Gernsbach and Kuppenheim in the Black Forest. There is a lot of opposition to trucks here among local residents, mainly with regard to noise issues. One focus of the scientific research accompanying the eWayBW project is therefore to monitor the impacts on traffic using transport safety analyses and noise measurements for example. Coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, PTV Transport Consult GmbH, the Fraunhofer ICT and the FZI Research Center for Information Technology are cooperating closely on the accompanying research.   

Alongside the direct impacts on traffic, acceptance plays an important role: The local population is integrated into the project via workshops and questionnaires among other things in order to ascertain the level of acceptance of the overhead line infrastructure by residents and road users and take steps to raise acceptance. Another important aspect of the accompanying research is the analysis of the impacts on the energy sector: What impacts do the overhead lines have on electricity demand? How can this electricity be produced in the most environmentally-friendly way? Can there be improved integration of the producers of electricity from renewable sources? What impacts are there on the local electricity distribution networks?

The accompanying research also examines whether the concept of overhead line trucks can be expanded to other routes in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Other main questions include: What are the associated infrastructure costs? What contribution does this make to the transformation of the energy sector (Energiewende) in Germany? What impacts on rail freight transport can be expected? How can overhead line trucks be integrated into a transport concept for Baden-Wuerttemberg?

All the institutions involved in the accompanying research to the eWayBW project work closely together in the service center “Profilregion Mobilitätssysteme Karlsruhe” and have access to further partners there over the course of the project. In addition, the FZI is also part of the “Test Area Autonomous Driving Baden-Wuerttemberg” and therefore has an important bridging function: Autonomous driving could achieve economic and energy efficiency gains in overhead trucks as well. Karlsruhe continues to develop its leading role in the field of mobility research with the eWayBW project and coordination with other ongoing projects.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.

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