UK Electric Road System

Supporting the UK government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, this project develops the outline for a demonstrator project of an Electric Road System (ERS), like those already trialled in Germany and Sweden.

Project Background

This creative study is the forerunner of a scheme which may see several major UK trunk roads serviced by overhead catenary wire as a form of electric HGV propulsion. This will then reduce the size of reserve battery required to allow 44T trucks to reach the ERS enabled network and their final destinations. In addition, the study will consider how a publicly available network of static fast chargers can be used to support commercial operations, and to what extent such locations can complement an ERS network. 

The Feasibility Study will identify the component parts of the system and identify UK based businesses.  

The teams from the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight at Heriot-Watt and Cambridge, will provide modelling capability to evaluate a range of case scenarios for testing. 

Research Questions

  • How many route miles of ERS should be built to maximise benefits while maintaining cost efficiency? 
  • Given current operational logistics patterns for medium and long-haul journeys, what size of reserve battery would suffice to allow the vast majority of journeys to operate without route diversion or requirement of top-up static charging? 
  • Where are the best places to locate static chargers to support logistics movements away from the main ERS routes? 
  • What are the effects on punctuality of medium and long-haul logistics movements of relying only on public charging and/or depot charging without ERS capability, and how does introduction of ERS capability change this? 
  • What are the cost implications for Government and private hauliers of building this infrastructure, and how can investment be most efficiently directed? 


Agent based models (ABMs) allow consideration of a wide range of scenarios through the ability for entities within a simulation to take decisions based on the observed environment and current state. This approach allows researchers to simulate scenarios and trial interventions that would be costly and risky in the real world. Furthermore, agent-based models uniquely develop a detailed description of the whole system and allow the researchers to explore the possibility of unforeseen consequences due to agent decisions. 

Project Lead

Professor Philip Greening 

Co-investigators/ PhDs/ RAs

Dr Dhanan Utomo

Dr Adam Gripton 


Innovate UK