Driving Toward a Sustainable Future

USF is continuing its sustainable efforts by retrofitting campus golf carts to run on solar power.



By Jenna Withrow

USF.edu News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (August 9, 2010) – For members of the University of South Florida community, golf carts rolling down campus sidewalks are a familiar sight unworthy of a second glance. But an energy overhaul to the carts may soon have you turning — and scratching — your heads.


That’s because the new add-ons look like something straight out of the Jetsons cartoon.


The futuristic-looking additions are actually 120 Watt rooftop Solar Chargers that allow the golf carts to run on solar power, instead of electric.


“Solar panels are a better energy alternative in our Sunshine State because the power to charge the batteries comes from the sun, a source that is abundant, free, and does not create pollution,” said Assistant Director of USF Physical Plant Nainan Desai.


Manufactured by the SunCoast Solar Store and installed by Physical Plant, the solar panels have many benefits. Not only is solar energy a free and renewable fuel source that does not pollute the environment, it also extends the range of the golf carts.


“Retro-fitting our golf carts with solar panels makes an important contribution to USF’s sustainability efforts. In addition to reducing our ecological footprint, we send an important — and highly visible — message to the university’s employees and students: we want a cleaner, greener university,” said E. Christian Wells, Director of the USF Office of Sustainability.


Physical Plant is currently testing the solar panel on one campus electric golf cart. The panel has performed satisfactorily so far, Desai said. Once the testing phase is complete, Physical Plant will provide assistance in converting electric golf carts to the University-wide community.


Jenna Withrow covers student activities and events at USF. She can be reached at 813-974-4014.