The eHighway-Schleswig Holstein (FESH) field trial is investigating the use of overhead line trucks on the highway. Funding from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) expires at the end of this year. In a white paper, the stakeholders involved now state an urgent need for action to continue the technology funding and appeal to political decision-makers.

Since 2019, the eHighway Schleswig-Holstein field trial has been funded with a total of 19 million euros as part of the "Erneuerbar mobil" program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). The current funding period for the interdisciplinary research project on the electrification of road freight transport ends in 2024. The research results are promising, but there are no signals from politicians regarding the further development and funding of the technology. The project partners involved are now turning to political decision-makers. In a white paper, they state an urgent need for action to continue the field trials in Germany and for a gradual expansion into innovation corridors, in line with the decarbonization of road freight transport.

Under the slogan "Think European - and act now!", the participants in the eHighway Schleswig-Holstein (FESH) field trial, including the Chair of Electric Railways and the Research and Development Center of Kiel University of Applied Sciences GmbH, have formulated a white paper. In it, the researchers evaluate various approaches to the ecological transformation of road freight transport. New technologies such as drive systems with alternative fuels or fuel cell trucks, stationary charging systems, battery swap systems and electric road systems (ERS) do not meet the need to achieve climate protection targets when considered individually. The researchers see the greatest potential in the overhead line system as a supplement to stationary charging:

The overhead contact line shows the greatest ecological and also economic potential. [...] Overhead contact line systems are [...] also tried and tested in heavy goods traffic. They are non-proprietary, internationally widespread and standardized, and diversified supply chains exist. By combining the overhead line system with stationary charging, the decarbonization of road freight transport is particularly effective, can already be implemented today and is quickly scalable [...]. In addition, the overhead line is considered an innovation driver for autonomous driving [...], which will significantly reduce transportation costs in the future."

The project partners of the field test recommend developing the overhead line system from the field test to large-scale application.

On 1 July 2024, the Ministry of Energy Transition, Climate Protection, Environment and Nature (MEKUN) and the Ministry of Economics, Transport, Labour, Technology and Tourism (MWVATT) of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, with the participation of the Faculty of Transport Sciences, organized a political event with presentations of results from the field trial and a panel discussion on the future prospects of overhead line technology at the State Representation of Schleswig-Holstein to the Federal Government in Berlin. Representatives from state and federal politics as well as from business and logistics were also present.

Despite the positive outlook and great potential, the future of overhead line technology in Germany is uncertain, as the three German field trials do not appear to be receiving any follow-up funding. The main reason given by the BMDV for this is the lack of funding due to the cuts made to the Climate and Transformation Fund (KTF). In other countries (such as the Netherlands or Sweden), however, the technology is being pursued and advanced.

As recently as June 2024, an overhead line truck was stationed at the Faculty of Transport Sciences for a scientific measurement campaign. Click here for the article


Lisa Schmidt/ Red. bearb.