Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF taps into solar energy with special golf cart

Jose Rodriguez, 56, shows off the solar-powered golf cart that hasn’t needed to be charged since January.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Jose Rodriguez, 56, shows off the solar-powered golf cart that hasn’t needed to be charged since January.

NORTH TAMPA — At the University of South Florida, nearly 600 golf carts regularly cross paths with students and staff on the Tampa campus' streets and sidewalks. About 75 percent of the carts are powered by gasoline. The rest run on batteries — with one exception.

"I have been stopped by students who ask me what's on top of the golf cart," said Jose Rodriguez, assistant manager of building maintenance at USF's physical plant.

What students point at is a set of solar panels. The cart Rodriguez drives — once battery operated — has used solar energy since January. That's when staff at the university's physical plant retrofitted the cart with the panels as a test run, said Nainan Desai.

This year, solar power production went up and prices went down nationwide, said Desai, a member of the university's sustainability steering committee and assistant director of the physical plant, which maintains roads, parking lots, lighting and buildings. So the school decided to try solar panels on a cart.

"Initially, it is an expensive proposition," Desai said.

The test cart's panels cost about $800, including installation. Retrofitting the ones the university already has is cheaper than buying solar powered carts brand new, which could cost $9,000 or more each, Desai said.

The campus' hundreds of carts are owned in sets by many of the university's departments. How many are converted will be up to each department's discretion and budget, Desai said. If a department wanted to convert a large number of carts in one shot, the total cost would depend on the results of a bidding process. "I think the cost can come down substantially from what it cost us for the first golf cart," he said.

Once the first cart has used solar energy for an entire year, the physical plant will decide when to convert the rest of its carts. In the meantime, Desai awaits the delivery of two electric trucks with solar rooftops — another step toward sustainability. Staff will use one truck to deliver mail and another to deliver custodial supplies across campus.

"The university is aggressively pursuing sustainability," said Desai. Solar golf carts and electric vehicles can play an integral role in reducing the university's carbon footprint, he said.

"We used to plug (the golf cart in) every night to charge," Rodriguez said. "That golf cart has not been plugged in the charger since January."

It's evidence, Desai said, that these efforts are making an impact.

"Solar power is an infinite source of energy," he said. "When we harness that technologically, we have achieved a certain level of improved environment."

Arleen Spenceley can be reached at (813) 909-4617 or aspenceley@sptimes.com.

USF taps into solar energy with special golf cart 09/24/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 27, 2010 6:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clemson reunion for Bucs' Adam Humphries, Vikings' Mackensie Alexander

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver Adam Humphries will have a familiar face lining up against him Sunday when he's in the slot and the Vikings have Mackensie Alexander guarding him as their nickel defensive back.

    Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries (10) makes a reception before being tackled by Chicago Bears defensive back Marcus Cooper (31) Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  2. Tampa ranks behind Miami and Orlando in Most Fun Cities in America list

    Blogs

    Is Tampa really among the "most fun cities in America?"

    Tampa's large number of festivals was among the factors that earned it a high ranking.
  3. Vinoy seeks to educate voters before November referendum

    Blogs

     The high profile match between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker has cast a long shadow over other candidates and issues on the St. Petersburg residents' Nov. 7 ballot.

    The Vinoy is seeking voter approval to build a one-story parking garage behind the resort
  4. Why did Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter address a Hillsborough County Commission meeting? (w/ video)

    Blogs

    TAMPA -- Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter appeared at a meeting of the Hillsborough County commission on Wednesday.

    Tell me why.

    During a Hillsborough County Commission meeting, Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys appeared via video to thanks local dance instructor Sandy Karl, who retired after 45 years in the business.
  5. Odessa teacher arrested on theft charges after deputies say she stole from fellow teacher

    Crime

    A Odessa elementary school teacher is facing theft charges after Hillsborough County deputies said she swiped money and a credit card from another teacher on the playground.

    Sylvia Clark, 58, a teacher at Hammond Elementary School in Odessa, faces charges after Hillsborough County deputies say she took money from a fellow teacher and used a stolen credit card. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]