ESB introduces pricing for ultra-fast EV chargers

You’ll pay 34c per kWh when connected to the ESB’s new 150kW chargers

The ESB is set to introduce pricing for its ultra-rapid 150kW electric car chargers, starting from December 1st

The ESB is set to introduce pricing for its ultra-rapid 150kW electric car chargers, starting from December 1st

 

The ESB is set to introduce pricing for its ultra-rapid 150kW electric car chargers, starting from December 1st.

That price, on an introductory offer, will be 34.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), or - if you join up to an ESB e-Cars membership, costing €4.60 per month, that rate is discounted to 33c per kWh. That discount will seem more worthwhile come March next year, when the pay-as-you-go price will jump to 37c per kWh.

What is a 150kW charger? Well, think of charging up an electric car’s battery like filling a paddling pool. From a home charger, running at 7.4kW, you’re filling that pool by steadily running the kitchen tap. From a 22kW on-street charger, you’ve upgraded to a garden hose. Go to a public 50kW fast charger, and you’ve switched from a garden hose to a pressure-washer. On that basis, a 150kW charger is more like a fire-hose, allowing for the much faster charging times which are needed as electric car batteries get bigger and bigger.

From 13 hours to 30 minutes

To illustrate the difference, let’s take an Audi e-Tron quattro SUV, which comes with a 95kWh battery in its top-spec form. To charge one from empty to full, on a 7.4kW home charger, would take a little over 13 hours. Hook it up to a 50kW charger, and you’ll sit there for an hour and a half (and that’s to get to 80 per battery charge). On a 150kWh charger, that same 80 per cent charge will take just 30mins.

Not all cars are suitable for charging at a 150kW charger just yet. One of the most popular electric cars in Ireland, the Nissan Leaf, is largely fitted with a CHADEMO plug, for which the maximum possible charging speed is 50kW, for the most part. The new 150kW stations are built around the double-decker Combined Charging System (CCS) plug.

The ESB is currently rolling out charging hubs with these new 150kW chargers, which will come in three ‘tiers’. Tier one consists of four high power chargers allowing up to eight electric vehicles at any one time; tier two consisting of two high power chargers allowing up to four electric vehicles at any one time; and tier three consisting of one high power charger and one fast charger allowing up to three electric vehicles charge at any one time. The ESB claims that its new chargers are capable of providing a 100km of extra range in as little as six minutes.

Charging hubs

Four of the tier three hubs are already up and running at Kilcullen (off the M9 motorway), Portlaoise Plaza (M7/M8), Galway Plaza (M6) and Kells (M3), although due to a power issue, the Portlaoise hub for now will only charge at 50kW and will therefore cost the same 28c/kWh as if it were an existing 50kW charger.

The first eight-bay high-power hub will be located at Mayfield, on the M7 at Monasterevin. Construction of the hub is due to commence in before Christmas. The roll out of all high power sites will continue over the next two years, says the ESB.

The ESB 150kW chargers are going to prove much cheaper to use than the existing IONITY rapid chargers. IONITY, a conglomerate formed by a group of major car makers, including VW, BMW, Hyundai, and Ford, has installed a series of 350kW chargers, but charges 79c per kWh on a pay-as-you-go basis (although that rate is usually much reduced when you buy a car from one of the manufacturers involved).

Obviously, 350kW charging is going to be faster again, but only a handful of current electric cars can actually accept a charge at that speed. As the Portlaoise issue also reminds us, faster chargers can only really work in locations where the grid infrastructure is up to the task.