IKEM analyses the potential for electric road system to reduce emissions

Overhead line truck on test track

In the AMELIE II project, IKEM is conducting research on the potential for overhead power lines to electrify heavy goods transport. In the future, this kind of electric road system (ERS) may supplement the charging point network along highways, enabling vehicles to charge even while in motion. The technology is now being tested on several routes in Germany. In parallel, IKEM researchers are investigating the legal and economic issues associated with constructing and operating the overhead line infrastructure.

‘There are a large number of stakeholders involved in operating ERS, including logistics companies, infrastructure operators and electricity suppliers. In the initial AMELIE project, we examined how to structure the billing processes between stakeholders as efficiently could as possible. Based on that information, we produced a stakeholder model, which we’ve elaborated on and reviewed from a legal perspective in AMELIE II,’ explained Giverny Knezevic, who joined IKEM’s Mobility Department as a research associate in 2021 and co-authored the recent study.

‘ERS technology falls at the intersection of road law and energy law, but neither of these areas of the law adequately address it. That makes it unclear which financing instrument – like tolls or network charges – should apply. There’s an urgent need for the legislature to decide how to classify overhead line infrastructure,’ said Friederike Pfeifer, head of the Mobility Department.

The first sub-study, which is now complete, examines various options for a legal classification. It concludes that infrastructure financing and traction power charging should be classified separately.

‘To decarbonise heavy freight transport, we need to get the development of overhead line infrastructure off the ground quickly and promote it in a targeted way. That’s why we recommend a legal classification that regards the infrastructure as part of the road. The costs of operating the overhead line can then be distributed using the existing truck toll, for example,’ said Knezevic.

‘The electricity that the trucks draw from the overhead line needs to be billed under private law – legally, these costs can’t be included in the toll system. To better address the special requirements of the overhead line system, energy law aspects of the overhead line system should be covered in a separate regulation for ERS, not directly in the EnWG,’ added Pfeifer.

A corresponding regulatory proposal is expected to be published in fall 2022 as part of the second sub-study.


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Dennis Nill

Dennis Nill

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IKEM – Institute for Climate Protection, Energy and Mobility e.V.