Recargo has officially opened its first DC charging location in time for Thanksgiving Day drivers. It becomes the first public site in California to support charging at power levels of 150 kW or more. All six charging spaces are now open and available for use.
The site is located at the Prunedale Shopping Center just off US-101 near Salinas, California. The charging fee is $.24 per minute and payment is by credit card reader or via the PlugShare website or phone app.
Each space supports a dedicated power level of up to 200 kW CCS using a flexible liquid-cooled cable and up to 100 kW using another somewhat heavier and stiffer CHAdeMO conventional cable since liquid-cooled CHAdeMO cables are not yet available from suppliers.
Actual vehicles typically charge at lower rates due to limitations in their battery pack design. Most cars in use today that support CCS or CHAdeMO will charge at about the same rate or slightly faster than they do on 50 kW chargers but the Kia Soul EV and Hyundai Ioniq Electric can both charge at about 65 to 70 kW on these new chargers.
The dispenser pedestals, made by BTC Power of Santa Ana, feature huge colorful digital displays showing scenery of California or promoting the company’s PlugShare subsidiary when not in use. During charging they show detailed charging information including graphs of the charging session’s power levels.
Almost all fast DC charging sites today draw power directly from the utility grid which can incur expensive “demand charges”. Utilities levy this fee for customers that draw large varying amounts of power.
Recargo’s Prunedale site features a large stationary battery storage system from Tesla as a buffer between charging vehicles and the grid. Each of the four Powerpack cabinets has a capacity of 174 kWh for a total of 696 kWh. Each cabinet is rated to output up to 131 kW and combined they can supply over 350 kW.
The 200 kW BTC Power chargers being used by Recargo appear to be closely related to the BTC Power unit being used by Electrify America for their first community DC charging locations which were recently opened in Elk Grove and Torrance in California. The charging cabinet contains four “power engines” which can each output up to 50 kW.
In Recargo’s configuration, the four power engines are combined to output up to 200 kW at up to 950V. At those Electrify America community charging sites, each power engine is configured to support its own charging pedestal at up to 50 kW.
All three 50 kW dispenser pedestals at Elk Grove and at Torrance are connected to a single charger cabinet containing the power engines. At Recargo’s Prunedale site each 200 kW pedestal has its own charger cabinet.
According to Carl Pancutt, Recargo’s Director of Network Development, the Prunedale charger cabinet pairs are capable of being reconfigured in the future to support power-splitting between adjacent charging spaces much like Tesla does at most of its Supercharger sites.
If configured this way in the future, one space at Prunedale could be capable of supplying nearly 350 kW which could be useful for future vehicles like the Porsche Taycan that can take advantage of higher power levels. A development variant of the Taycan was recently featured in a video showing it charging at around 250 kW.
Based on the detailed ratings of another recent charger design by BTC Power that may be using the same power engine internals, it appears likely that the Prunedale cabinets are inherently capable of putting out up to 250A at 950V and up to 500A below 500V however the rating on the dispenser being used is limited to 350A.
This implies that the prototype Porsche seen charging on the video might be able to draw nearly the full 200 kW as the Prunedale cabinets are presently configured when charging at around 770V at 250A or more.
Recargo is also due to soon begin building a string of 8 fast charging locations along US-101 south of San Jose between Gilroy and Buellton which is 40 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.
Another string of 11 future CA Recargo locations along US-101 begins in Healdsburg north of San Francisco and runs up to Smith River near the Oregon border. There are also three locations across CA-152 and CA-33 that connect US-101 with CA-99.
Those chargers are partially funded by a grant from the California Energy Commission and mostly consist of one or two dual-cable fast DC charging spaces together with a 240V AC charging cable, based on the original grant proposal. The actual installations could be scaled up somewhat at Recargo’s discretion. They are targeted for completion by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
Funding to help build the Prunedale site came from the Monterey Bay Air Resources District. The site was originally planned to open in August, according to a March, 2018 press release from Recargo.