Houston Zoo's First Solar Golf Cart

SportsAlternative EnergyHybrid VehiclesRenewable EnergyGolfNRG Energy IncorporatedReliant Energy Inc

The Houston Zoo took it's the first step towards utilizing the power of the sun to energize its transportation needs. On May 28, a team of 6 volunteer solar experts from NRG Energy and Reliant Energy joined the Houston Zoo staff to convert the first cart to solar power.

"With the team from NRG Energy and Reliant Energy, it only took about a half-hour to do the complete conversion," said Houston Zoo Master Mechanic Kendrick Mickens. "We replaced the original roof of the golf cart with a new roof containing two solar panels, wired the new roof to the cart's batteries and we were off and running," Mickens added.

The Houston Zoo will test the golf cart's new solar capability for the next 30 days and then begin converting 8 of the Zoo's carts to sun power. The conversion program for the Zoo's electric vehicle fleet to solar power is supported by a $50,000 joint donation from NRG and Reliant.

"NRG, Reliant and the Houston Zoo share a strong commitment to sustainable energy and increasing our usage of zero-emission renewable generation like solar and wind power," said Kevin Howell, President of NRG's operations in Texas. "Converting the Houston Zoo's golf carts to get their power from the Texas sun is a tremendous way to support our local community and show the many visitors to our great Zoo how solar power can help us all lead more environmentally responsible lifestyles."

The cart's new roof, manufactured by SolarDrive, a company that specializes in efficient solar products for electric vehicles are capable of transferring between 180 to 360 watts of energy to the vehicle's battery system.

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