Solar-Powered Scooter
Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas, explores environmental options through a prototyped solar-powered scooter.

CORPUS CHRISTI ARMY DEPOT, Texas (March 9, 2012) -- Corpus Christi Army Depot is taking steps to go green and reduce energy consumption to save money with a pilot program.

Infrastructure Operations initiated a solar-powered scooter pilot program by installing a solar panel, or a sunray solar top, located above one of the electric scooters at the depot.

"CCAD has a total of about 219 scooters and 209 of those are actually electric scooters," said James Spurgeon, quality assurance specialist. "In the last two years we've increased our scooters by 50. That's a pretty good increase of scooters."

Before the depot decides to put solar panels on the rest of the scooters, they must review the battery power on a day-to-day basis and see how much power is being drawn. This is what the pilot program is all about.

The battery life of the solar-powered scooters is extended by 30 percent if the scooter is recharged in the sun. This reduces the need to constantly charge the battery at the end of the workday. Plugs will be more readily available for those scooters that still need the plugs.

"Solar power does not eliminate the need to plug in for electric power to charge but it reduces the amount of time because solar power continuously provides power to the battery," said Spurgeon. "This is what we are looking at for lower electric costs."

Driving distance with the solar panels is increased on an average of five to twelve miles per day. The solar panels are easy to install and require no maintenance.

There is one drawback to this environmental project. More parking spaces would have to be allotted for scooters to charge in the sun.

Even though these solar panels increase battery life by 30 percent it will only be effective if the scooter has a good, healthy battery. Eco Trans Alliance recommends to replacing the old battery with a new one when solar panels are installed. However, if the people using the battery keep up with the battery maintenance, there is no need for new batteries.

"Probably 40 percent of our unscheduled maintenance calls at Motor Pool are due to batteries that we had to replace," said Spurgeon. "If you don't maintain your vehicle, solar power is not going to help."

If the program is approved, the next step is to determine the potential cost savings for the depot followed by acquisition logistics and usability analyses.

"CCAD has an energy conservation plan that's a big deal and we all need to look at ways in our work centers to try to improve our power usage," said Spurgeon.

Page last updated Fri March 9th, 2012 at 00:00