How to Get EV Chargers in Housing Estates – A chat with Heliodor Macko, CEO of SEAK

EV charging is a multifaceted challenge. On one hand, the steadily increasing number of electric vehicles on Europe’s roads has resulted in a frenzy for charging stations from both energy suppliers and consumers alike. On the other hand, city councils and residents have become progressively more aware of big, bulky, and industrial charging points and their impact on the character and aesthetic qualities of a given neighbourhood.

We discuss these challenges with Heliodor Macko, CEO of SEAK, a company which develops and manufactures charging stations integrated in public lighting poles in Slovakia.

The share of electric cars is growing in Slovakia, but not as fast as in Western Europe countries. Why?

In addition to the price of electric cars (which is gradually falling), the main problem is insufficient charging infrastructure. Many residents live in housing estates and park their cars on the street, not having their own garages. It is necessary to bring charging stations where people´s cars are parked.

Why put EV chargers in the streetlamps?

Public charging infrastructure in housing estates should belong to the basic infrastructure as well as parking areas and public lighting, the initiative should be taken by the municipality. There is no point in relying on the market to solve this, as there are too many obstacles: there is city land, not enough available electric connection points, need to dig through the streets and sidewalks to lay new cabling, etc.

When installing the chargers in streetlamp poles, you are using existing cables and cabinets, which can save a lot of money and time. The energy that the city saves by dimming smart lighting (this investment returns faster than ever at today’s energy prices) can offer to electric cars. And during daytime when lamps are off, all the power capacity is available for charging.

What should the city keep in mind when thinking of building such charging stations?

Identify suitable parking spaces next to the lamp poles, so that the charging cable does not interfere with the sidewalk and that there is sufficient electrical capacity of the existing cabling in the given place. Mostly there is, because the cabling was prepared for older, more energy-hungry luminaires than current LED lamps. Choose a suitable type of charger – wall box for existing poles, charger integrated into the lighting pole for new installations.

For new projects, size the electric cabling capacity with regard to charging needs. Also choose a suitable application for payments collection that allows flexible charging (e.g discounted rates for residents), whether our or from another operator.

Are there already locations in Slovakia where I can charge my electric car from a lamp?

You can charge directly from lamp in Bratislava, Sabinov or Dolný Kubín and soon in other places. The first installations are or will be in Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Spain and Turkey in the near future. This solution recently won the Green Tech Awards 2021 from the British Embassy in Prague.

Heliodor Macko will be speaking at the Green Future Conference 9-10 June 2022, in Split, Croatia. You can join Heliodor and Ibex Publishing’s Thomas J Hayden-Lefebvre at the Green Future Conference by reserving your ticket here. 

About Heliodor Macko

Heliodor Macko is a successful serial entrepreneur and technology enthusiast. In 2015, he joined SEAK with the mission of developing and internationalizing the original technology of long-distance communication via power lines. SEAK has advanced this smart lighting control technology and has successfully deployed it in over 15 countries in Europe and Asia. In 2018, SEAK introduced charging stations for electric vehicles integrated with smart lighting poles, fit for efficient retrofitting, and bringing EV charging possibilities everywhere, for which it received several international awards. Heliodor believes that this technology will help adopt e-mobility globally faster by bringing charging spots to people who park their cars on the streets.