Solar Goes Mainstream with Military Grade Solar Panels for Golf Carts

SolarFilms teams with E-Z Go on solar panels for golf carts and EVsWhen the U.S. military and the sport of golf take on solar power, that’s a certain indication that solar is crossing over from a fringe curiosity to a solid pillar of the U.S. energy community. A company called PowerFilm, Inc. has found a way to pull those two forces together and accelerate the trend to mass consumer interest in solar technology, by teaming up with the electric vehicle manufacturer E-Z-­GO® to offer a custom military-grade snap-on solar panel system for golf carts and electric cars. The product is set to launch in February.

The U.S. military as a green marketing hook

In its promotional material for its partnership with E-Z-GO, PowerFilm notes that the new snap-on PowerFilm Solar Panel is designed and manufactured to military specifications. That’s a nifty shorthand for positioning the product as durable, reliable, and high-functioning, and PowerFilm has the track record to back it up. The company’s signature Power Shade product, a solar-enabled field tent, was originally designed for the Army, and the company recently won a $5.5 million grant from the Army Research Laboratory to develop a rugged, solar powered electronic display for field use.

Green ambassadors from golf and the military

Though its tempting to think of golf and the military as two examples of tradition-bound cultural icons, both have a rich tradition of innovation when it comes to high tech equipment, so they can play a significant role in putting the cultural seal of approval on new green technology. PowerFilm and E-Z-GO aren’t alone in recognizing the power of a military-related boost for new technology products; the major home building company Meritage Homes, for example, recently launched a line of high tech energy efficient models with a testimonial from an Air Force veteran.

A growing market for solar-powered electric vehicles

In addition to golf cart fleets, the snap-on solar panel system will be applied to E-Z-GO vehicles that can be used for low-speed travel in retirement communities, gated communities, industrial facilities, and other settings. The military connection extends to E-Z Go’s parent company Textron, so it’s a pretty good likelihood that you’ll see solar-powered golf carts and other small, low-speed vehicles tooling around military facilities, too.

Don’t forget the plug-in EVs!

As conceived by PowerFilm, the new solar panel doesn’t fully replace conventional power for charging up a golf cart battery, but it does help reduce battery charging costs, improve battery life, and extend the range of the vehicle. If the primary charge for the battery comes from a stationary solar array, then you have a 100 percent solar powered vehicle. That’s already on the way in both the military and civilian sectors. For example,  Nellis Air Force Base has a project underway to introduce plug-in electric vehicles into its ground fleet along with a major new solar panel array, and SolarCity has launched an electric vehicle charging station package with its home solar panel installations.

Image: Golf cart sign. License AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by BernardBoyGenius.

Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.

Tina writes frequently for Triple Pundit and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

One response

  1. The first post of this article. Thats odd. so solar and plug ins finally getting a buzz, and not a buzz kill
    it seem like a race to make longest miles per charge possible.  in the next 5 yrs there will be tons of electric cars all over and pricing will be down, But the way the gov. and big business introduce the public to new tech. its rediculous,the cost of new tech is so high because of all the red tape in the way. and big biz likes it that way so in a few yrs when the technology is available at the retail level, if the price comes down sahy 25 or even 40 % the public is like a puppet on a string and says wow what a deal and buys it up. when for many yrs before this the cost could of already been here.
    big biz and gov first so they can throw us a bone once in a while. when we start to get a voice out there.  dont get me wrong im glad to see new technology im in the field myself and know a little bit about the info spectrum and how its spread out to whos who and bottom line is money. the gov is giving a up to 7500 refund on ev cars thats seems like a small peice of change to the cost of a new ev with all the bells and whistles. and im betting the .12 cents a kilowatt hour will not be .12 cents a kilowatt hour in a few yrs. id bet the farm on the power companys especially the one with governmrnt interst.  .12 cents compared to .40 cents for deisel. that gives room for power companys to raise rates by not only inflation but 300% more over the next few yrs and still be cheaper than deisel. it will be masked by inflation. to charge up a battery pack of an ev size takes alot of time and power companys know this. so thats there gravy for the future, and they can put a price as high as they want, with in reason, so thats all i got thanks for reading

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