It has only been a few weeks since the energy company ČEZ, the operator of the most powerful charging network in the Czech Republic, ceremoniously opened two 360kW charging stations (in Mladá Boleslav and Mikulov), at the time the fastest in the country (before it was overtaken by E.ON with 400kW a few days ago station in the charging location in Vystrkov near Humpolka). It is a clear sign that charging electric cars will be significantly faster and more convenient in the Czech Republic as well.
“Our strategy is to enable people to travel with an electric car as comfortably as with combustion engines,” confirms Tomáš Dzurilla. “Of course, electric opponents complain that electric cars don’t have a range and charge slowly. However, it is necessary to realize that technical development in the automotive industry is moving forward very quickly, and we are trying to keep up with it from the point of view of the charging infrastructure. In fact, I dare say we’re a little ahead.’
The most advanced electric cars with 800V architecture, which you could count on the fingers of both hands (Hyundai and Kia, Porsche and Audi), enable a maximum output of 239 kW, or 270 kW. However, most cars currently sold are around 150 kW, 200 kW at most. “No car can do 360 kW at the moment, and it will take some time before any car manufacturer works its way up to it. So the charging limit is not in chargers, but in cars. However, it is likely that charging power requirements will grow even further, perhaps up to 500 kW.”
|Mladá Boleslav, Olympia||D10, 44. km||360 kW|
|Loket, Bageterie Boulevard||D1, 66 km||2 x 320 kW, 1 x 180 kW|
|Pilsen, Olympia||D5, 76. km||300 kW|
|Loket, McDonald’s||D1, 66th km||300 kW|
|Slovice, Benzina||D5, 83rd km, direction Rozvadov||225 kW|
|Unčovice, McDonald’s||D35, 253. km||225 kW|
These high-performance chargers, called hyperchargers (HPC), will increase rapidly in the future. However, this does not mean that they will be everywhere. “For us, the HPC category starts at 150 kW, and by the end of the year we will roughly double their number from the current 20 to 40. However, for us, the charging infrastructure means a mix of different powerful stations with different purposes, so we plan to build less powerful stations as well.”
In translation, this means that building an HPC makes sense where you don’t want to delay charging – for example, around highways and main roads you need to charge quickly for a few (hundreds/tens) of kilometers to reach your destination, then you can charge slowly in peace and comfort . Which today (taking into account the current battery capacities of electric cars ranging between 50 and 100 kW) includes not only AC 22 kW, but also DC 50 kW.
There are a lot of these in the ČEZ charging network for historical reasons (when it was mainly about the rapid development of the network and electric cars were not capable of much higher performance anyway), but many of them will gradually be replaced by more powerful stations. However, many of them will also remain. “The 50-kilowatt charging network has its justification, especially in an urban environment. If you want to go shopping for half an hour, you can recharge a few tens of percent of the capacity and you are covered for the next few days of driving.”
Where there is high usage and users need to recharge faster, they will be replaced by more powerful technology. However, this comes with some challenges. “In many locations, high power is not available, for example around some highways,” describes Tomáš Dzurilla. “In that case, we are able to supplement the charging station with battery storage that will compensate for this deficit. We currently have three in operation, but their operation is not yet so maintenance-free as to make their widespread expansion worthwhile.”
Another complication of network expansion is low utilization, i.e. the use of operating chargers. “We make no secret of the fact that we have low utilization. In short, there are many more charging stations in operation than there are electric cars on Czech roads, and their owners can often charge them at home.” , who will mostly be dependent on the public charging network.
Paradoxically, higher use of chargers can lead to cheaper charging prices. “The biggest costs are related to the construction of charging stations and their reserved capacity in the network, the prices of electricity on the stock exchange alone do not have such a big impact on the total costs. So reuse is key. This means that the more cars that drive to our chargers and the more they draw electricity, the easier it is to cover the high investment costs. Therefore, as long as there are few electric cars on Czech roads, charging prices will not drop.”
This is also related to another direction in the development of the ČEZ charging network, i.e. facilitating access to charging for customers. “We want to continue to improve our FUTUR/E/GO app – to make it easier for users to find a free and functional charging station nearby, to conveniently activate charging directly by connecting to the car’s infotainment system. At the same time, we are looking for ways to automatically authenticate the car in our charging network, such as AutoCharge and other similar services, so that the user just needs to connect the car to the charger and not worry about anything else,” concludes Tomáš Dzurilla.
Charging electric cars in the Czech Republic should not only be faster, but also more accessible and convenient. And with the growing number of electric cars, perhaps also cheaper.