As in previous years, the number of public charging stations for electric cars increased last year – and this trend will continue this year and in the years to come. If we are all to drive electric cars for such a long time, the infrastructure must grow; after all, even the European Union is proposing a directive that would order states to ensure the availability of fast chargers every 60 kilometers on main roads.
Last year, the number of public chargers in our country increased by a third, to 1,364, located in a total of twelve hundred locations and offering a total of 2,643 connections. Most of them offer a charging power of up to 100 kW, but the number of more powerful ones is also growing.
We find them mainly around big cities and main roads, but their distribution is not uniform. Eastern Bohemia and eastern Moravia are somewhat underserved in terms of more than 100 kilowatt chargers, and electric car owners there have to be content with slower charging – at least for now.
The new fastest electric car charger is located in Mladá Boleslav
The reason can be seen in where and how fast chargers are used. According to data from the company PRE, which is one of the three largest operators of networks of charging stations in our country, the busiest are the stations that are located next to highways or in close proximity to them. The first is at Prague’s Černý Most, the second at Chodov and the third at the 96th kilometer of the D1 in the direction of Brno.
“Most often, our customers top up on Fridays, Sundays and Mondays are also strong. Statistically, they recharge the least on Wednesdays,” says Karel Hanzelka from PRE.
E.ON, another strong player in the field of public chargers, lists as the busiest station the one on Drnovská Street in Prague, which offers the highest output of 50 kW. The slow charger with alternating current (AC) at Terno in České Budějovice is also very popular among motorists – it is among the five busiest locations.
“We build AC charging stations in so-called points of interest, which are city parking lots, tourist destinations, national parks, etc. These are locations where it is assumed that people will spend more time in one place, and can therefore also use a slower charger, ” says Martin Klíma from E.ON Drive Infrastructure.
The number of charging stations for electric cars in the Czech Republic increased by a third last year
ČEZ, which is the king of the three densest Czech networks of public chargers, is approaching the construction in a similar way. However, direct current stations dominate the share of electricity supplied – 95 percent of the total of 4.4 million kWh. The busiest stations are in Prague, the Central Bohemian Region and along the D1, D10 and D11 highways.
“The ratio between the volume of domestic/business vs. of public recharging remains roughly 80:20, i.e. the model prevails where people use nighttime recharging at home, daytime charging at work, and in the event that they travel longer than the range of their car, they use the option of quickly recharging energy in a network of public stations, Martin Schreier from ČEZ says about customer preferences.
With the PRE, the ratio is not so overwhelming in favor of direct current (DC) charging. Last year, the operator delivered 2.2 kWh of electricity, and two-thirds of that was via fast and ultra-fast stations. Instead of more common fifty-kilowatt connections, the company often offers stronger 75 kW connections in the “fast” category; we talk about “ultra-fast” (UFC) charging when the charging point offers at least 150 kW.
Charging at E.ON is similar – charging at direct current stations accounts for slightly less than two-thirds of all traffic.
It should be interesting to note that drivers do not often charge their electric car from a very low to a high or full state at fast and ultra-fast chargers at any operator. The figure often given by car companies about the time needed to charge a car from 10 to 80% at a fast charging station is probably rather informative and does not reflect the way people charge their electric cars.
On average, the PRE recharges 30 kWh on an ultra-fast charger, and 20.7 kWh on a fast charger. E.ON reports a similar number of less than 20 kilowatt hours, while at ČEZ it is only 16.8 kWh. The batteries of today’s electric cars, with some exceptions, tend to have a capacity of at least 50, sometimes even over 100 kWh.
Fast chargers with battery storage can develop charging infrastructure
Until recently, the sufficient charging power of 50 kW turns out to be too low with the increasing capacity of electric car batteries. Therefore, it is not uncommon to replace these DC racks with stronger ones. “This year, in addition to the construction of new stations, we also want to focus on modularly increasing the capacity of already existing DC stations,” says Hanzelka.
However, the electrical distribution network does not allow the installation of an ultra-fast charger everywhere. In that case, there are two options. Either bring in new lines, which requires a lot of earthworks or even a new substation, or use battery storage.
This can be charged slowly from the existing line or perhaps with solar panels, but when an electric car hungry for energy arrives, it will release it quickly. Such chargers are already operated by all three major players, but only occasionally. Three are in Prague, one in Břeclav.
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