Evaluation compares gas, electric and solar-assisted golf carts and shows electric golf carts
leading the way to better energy savings
TORONTO, October 20, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new report, by the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program (STEP), a multi-agency program led by the Toronto and Region Conservation, is shedding new light on the energy efficiency of gas, electric and solar-assisted golf carts. The report, released today, determined that gas carts were on average over three times less fuel efficient than an electric golf cart. In real terms, the difference in fuel economy between a gas and electric golf cart is similar to that of a Hummer H3 SUV and a Toyota Prius Hybrid car.1 Findings show that electric carts have 85 per cent lower fuel costs and produce one-quarter of the emissions of gas carts. STEP also determined that a solar-assisted golf cart isn't the only solution when looking to reduce air pollution and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
"We started this study with the assumption that the solar-assisted golf carts would be best solution, but what we've found is that electric golf carts are actually a better investment for golf courses both financially and environmentally," said Ted Sherk, Project Co-ordinator, STEP, Toronto and Region Conservation. "The addition of solar panels to a golf cart can slightly improve performance and when we surveyed more than 50 golfers many thought the solar carts were a great idea which would help with a golf course's green image. But aside from being a marketing advantage, the data in this study shows that electric carts can provide energy savings at a lower cost than the solar-assisted carts, by simply maintaining the carts in good condition."
The team at STEP did a side-by-side field evaluation of two solar-assisted electric golf carts, two standard electric golf carts and two gas-powered golf carts at Bathurst Glen Golf Course in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Over a three month period, the study measured the carts energy use and associated Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, dependability, overall capital and operating cost, and golfer preference.
A solar-assisted cart might obtain an energy savings of 12 per cent over a conventional electric cart which is much less than manufacturer claims of 30-50 per cent. More importantly the study found that the energy consumed by the carts varied greatly, indicating that other factors relating to cart condition (e.g tire pressure, new bearings) or driver behaviour may be more important than the solar panels in determining overall energy consumption. The report concludes that a well-maintained electric cart, free of mechanical problems may offer better energy and financial savings than the purchase of solar panels.
"We supported this study because we felt it's important for golf courses in Canada to get a true picture of what they need to do to become more environmentally friendly, " Said Ryan McCutcheon, Bennett Golf Cars. "As manufacturers of golf carts we're always looking for the best approach to meet the needs of our clients, and it's interesting to see that going solar isn't the best way to go."
There are at least 179 golf courses within a 100 km radius around Toronto, of which roughly 80 per cent are estimated to use electric carts, while the remaining use gas. According to the Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program, if the 20 per cent were replaced with electric carts, this could reduce emissions by approx. 3.8 tonnes CO2 per day in an annual golf season, an amount roughly equivalent to taking 155 mid-sized gasoline cars off the road.
"The study is beneficial for golf course operators who are looking to green their operations in a cost-effective way," said Joe Petta, Manager, Bathurst Glen Golf Course. "We recently achieved Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program Certification, which is the highest level eco-certification a course can get for Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management. Our next step is to take the data from the golf cart study to begin moving forward with a plan to bring electric carts to our course."
The study was made possible by funding support from Bennett Golf Cars and TRCA municipal partners. The full report is available for download at http://www.sustainabletechnologies.ca
With more than 50 years of experience, TRCA helps people understand, enjoy and look after the natural environment. TRCA's vision is for The Living City - where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature's beauty and diversity. For more information, call 416-661-6600 or visit us at www.trca.on.ca