Article by Tessa Schwarze
When you look around a college campus, you might observe many vehicles. One vehicle that is growing in popularity for facilities and for recreation is the golf cart. The Novel Applications of Photovoltaics Creative Inquiry team wants to use these carts as a model for going solar on Clemson’s campus. They view the carts as the grounds for research, a platform of insight into energy conservation and the means to reduce our carbon emissions.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency lists the two leading contributors of human–generated carbon emissions as transportation and electrical production. The Creative Inquiry team aims to confront both of these agents by utilizing an alternative form of energy for transportation on campus. To do so, their first creation is a solar powered golf cart.
Dr. Rajendra Singh from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is the mentor of this Creative Inquiry team. Singh said that in the past eight years, the solar energy mindset has been growing, but has not been recognized to its full potential. “One hour of solar power can power the entire world for one year,” Singh stated, “but the question is, what is the cheapest way to implement solar power?”
Libby Zanin, a senior biosystems engineering major, said that even though the cart’s potential savings are extensive, there is still room for more improvement. “We used a poor quality panel, and still saw an increase in efficiency,” Zanin said, “If we used a 400–500 watt panel, the cart could run for the entire day.” When asked about where they want their invention implemented, Zanin has a request for the university. “I want to see all Clemson carts solar. If charging stations are available, Clemson can easily cut down on emissions and save money.”