ELECTRIC INFRASTRUCTURE Transit buses in Tel Aviv will soon be able to charge while in motion
The former capital of Israel, Tel Aviv, is developing “electric roads” that will be able to wirelessly power and recharge public transit buses. The city has placed great emphasis on reducing air pollution in recent years by adopting EVs, among other initiatives.
A public-private partnership (PPP) led by the municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo in Israel in collaboration with the Dan Bus Company and electric-vehicle (EV) charging venture ElectReon has launched a pilot program that will be able to power and charge public transit buses while they’re driving on city roads.
The pilot—the first of its kind in Israel—will cover approximately 600 meters (.37 miles) of roadway between Tel Aviv University Railway Station and the Klatzin bus terminal in the Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ramat Aviv. The charging infrastructure consists of copper coils placed under the asphalt of the street that can charge buses specially equipped to receive wireless power. According to ElectReon’s website, “Energy is transferred from the electricity grid to the road infrastructure and manages communication with the approaching vehicles.” Each of the receiving buses is fitted with an inductive charging pad apparatus called an ElectReon Receptor to transfer power directly to the bus’s supercapacitors. Additional wireless charging stations will be installed at the Klatzin bus terminal for stationary charging between trips.
Testing and trial runs of the technology began in October of this year and were scheduled to wrap up by December, followed by regular journeys transporting passengers traveling daily to and from Tel Aviv University. If the pilot is successful, the city will consider expanding use of the technology to other sections of Tel Aviv and to evaluate the possibility of utilizing it for delivery trucks and autonomous vehicles (AVs).
A green initiative
“Our strategic action plan to prepare for climate change has placed the fight against pollution at the top of the municipality's environmental agenda,” stated Ron Huldai, Tel Aviv’s mayor, in a press release. “If the pilot is successful, we will evaluate—together with the Ministry of Transportation—its expansion to additional locations in the city.”
“We welcome that Tel Aviv-Yafo is a groundbreaking experimental laboratory for Israeli technologies, including electric roads,” said Meital Lehavi, Tel Aviv’s deputy mayor for transportation. “Transforming a road into an electrified surface and a means for charging, through advanced and effective infrastructure, will enable the acceleration of the transition to electric buses. Relying on direct charging of vehicles from the road itself will remove the need to establish charging stations or be operationally bound to terminals… This is another milestone in advancing municipal policy on sustainable transportation.”
The city has placed great emphasis on reducing air pollution in recent years by adopting EVs, among other initiatives. Tel Aviv has plans to install EV charging infrastructure in numerous public areas in order to make public transport energy-independent. Tel Aviv is believed to be the first city in the world to install wireless charging equipment for charging vehicles en route.
ElectReon itself had recently completed the first tests of its in-road charging system using a modified Renault Zoe EV along a 20-meter section of road at the company’s test complex in the settlement of Beit Yanai.
Prior to the announcement of the Tel Aviv pilot, EllectReon signed a letter of intent with Italian infrastructure company Societa’ di Progetto Brebemi to install its inductive charging equipment along a one-kilometer test section of the A35 toll highway running between Milan and Brescia in Italy. Brebemi will underwrite the cost of the pilot, while ElectReon will provide the necessary equipment, assist with installation, and provide technical test services and analysis. A testing period of 36 months will then commence. If the tests are successful, installation in both directions along the entire 62-kilometer length of the A35 highway as well as some adjacent roads—a project said to be worth some EUR82 million (USD97 million)—could follow.
Until recently, wireless charging technology was thought to only be functional on roads where vehicles travel at relatively low speeds. “[The A35 road] is our first project with a toll road company, and this constitutes a new market for us,” noted Oren Ezer, co-founder and CEO of ElectReon. “The agreement with Brebemi is a continuation of the company’s strategy to create partnerships with leading organizations across the world, and we predict that this agreement and the global infrastructure bodies that control Brebemi, will help ElectReon enter the Italian market, alongside other leading markets.”
In addition to the pilots in Israel and Italy, ElectReon has also begun construction of a 1.6-kilometer test track in Sweden between the center of the city of Visby on the island of Gotland and the municipality’s airport. If this test track proves successful, installation will take place along a 4.1-kilometer stretch of road to operate a shuttle bus EV that will serve the airport.
Beyond these projects, ElectReon has deals in place to partner with road construction company Eurovia on roads in France, Germany, and Belgium; with the German utility EnBW to conduct testing in the German city of Karlsruhe; with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi auto alliance, and with French automotive and aerospace supplier Hutchinson.