In Prague, Škoda Auto DigiLab has started the pilot of a particularly innovative fast-charging station. It uses kinetic flywheel technology and provides twice as much electricity as the national grid can supply.
The charging point at the Prague Exhibition Centre in Letňany is the first of its kind in the Czech Republic and only the third in the world. The innovative charging technology was developed by the Israeli start-up Chakratec. The company was discovered and brought on board by Škoda Auto DigiLabIsrael Ltd.
Recently at the Smart Mobility Summit in Tel Aviv at the end of October, Škoda Auto announced new partnerships with innovative mobility start-ups and tech companies that develop hardware and software solutions for the automotive industry. Chakratec, developer of the Kinetic Power Booster, is one of these companies. The innovative system makes it possible to supply electric vehicles with power using fast-charging technology, even where there is ordinarily insufficient power.
The charging station absorbs peak loads in the grid, accelerating its flywheels to high speeds and storing the electricity as kinetic energy. When an electric car is then connected, the Kinetic Power Booster releases this as electricity, and in doing so doubles the charging power that the national grid could have provided on its own. This makes this clever solution ideal for car dealerships or shopping centres, for example.
Andre Wehner, Chief Digital Officer at Škoda Auto, said, “The collaboration with Chakratec shows how innovative ideas can be turned into concrete projects by being scouted and specifically supported by our Škoda Auto DigiLab in Tel Aviv. With our decision to set up the world’s third Kinetic Power Booster in Prague, we are demonstrating that we are consistently working on a comprehensive range of services for our customers in terms of E-Mobility and integrated mobility services.”
Vojtěch Fried, Electromobility Manager at PRE added, “The technology developed by Chakratec, which provides the necessary electricity for battery-powered vehicles to be charged quickly, marks another step towards the future of individual mobility. As the operator of the largest charging network in Prague, we feel it is important for us to be involved as a strong partner in the roll-out of the Kinetic Power Booster right from the start.”
Ilan-Ben David, CEO of Chakratec, stated, “Our collaboration with Škoda Auto and PRE marks an important milestone for us. We’ve taken up the challenge and are ready to advance E-Mobility together with our partners.”
The Chakratec system stores energy when there is surplus electricity, and also relieves the strain on the grid at peak times. In contrast to battery-based charging stations, the capacity remains the same at all times. What’s more, the purely mechanical Kinetic Power Booster is remarkably eco-friendly as it does not make use of chemical battery cells. Furthermore, it allows for around 200,000 fast-charge and discharge cycles. This corresponds to a lifespan of about 20 years.
The booster’s technical centrepiece is the ten flywheels housed in a container, where they rotate in a vacuum. If electricity is supplied from the grid, they speed up. As soon as a vehicle is connected to be recharged, the flywheels generate additional electricity themselves, slowing down in the process. This functionality allows the booster to store sufficient energy to simultaneously charge two Škoda CITIGOe iVs with twice as much power as the national grid can provide alone. Once a car’s battery has been topped up, the flywheels need time to return to their operating speed – for the 100-kW station in Prague, this takes about 45 minutes.
The fast-charging station in Prague-Letňany is being operated by project partner PRE Group. Škoda Auto DigiLab and PRE are announcing the official launch at the e-Salon. The electromobility trade show is taking place from 14–17 November at the Prague Exhibition Centre in Letňany.
To allow users of an electric car to get to know the technology, they can currently recharge their cars for free. Prices and payment methods for regular operation will be announced by the operator at a later date. Depending on the results of the trial, the partners are planning to set up further Chakratec fast- charging stations both in the Czech Republic as well as other countries.