The future of mobility in sports

›› How electric golf carts are revolutionising sports

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From podiums made of recycled plastics at the Tokyo Olympic Games to championing Formula E, it’s clear that the sporting industry is focusing on more sustainable approaches. This is also true in golfing, where electric golf carts offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to petrol-powered trolleys, as they have a lower carbon footprint and reduce noise pollution. Here, Steve Hughes, managing director of power quality specialist REO UK, explains how electric golf carts could revolutionise e-mobility in sports.

While gas-powered golf carts have been around for decades, we are currently witnessing a shift towards their electric counterparts. According to a report by Motocaddy, the world’s biggest seller of golf carts, the global market for electric trolleys will reach around 174 million Euro by 2030, representing an increase of 44 per cent since 2020. Among golfers’ reasons for going electric is the ability to walk without a strain and having more energy for the game, but also an increased awareness for sustainability.

With no engine, no gas tank, and no exhaust, electric carts produce zero harmful emissions. Unlike gas engine carts, electric trolleys run silently, meaning that they reduce the risk of noise pollution, particularly in large golf facilities.

Types of golf carts
Historically, golf carts often used small petrol engines, which were noisy, smelly and while versatile, required maintenance similar to that of a road vehicle. As technology developed, lead-acid batteries became more popular and solved some of the issues of petrol engines. However, these are still heavy and have a poor battery performance with a continuous cycle of charging and discharging, which means they have to be replaced every three or four years.

Modern lithium-ion batteries, like the ones used in full-sized electric vehicles are changing the face of electric carts. They are 60 per cent lighter than lead-acid batteries, while being cheaper to maintain and retaining their capacity to provide voltage even at low levels of charge. These features improve the acceleration and power to drive uphill for electric carts.

Electric carts design
Electric carts are often driven aggressively with accidental collisions between carts, trees and other hazards. This means that the levels of resilience to shock and vibration required for components used in a cart needs to be built to the same standards as any other EVs. Similarly, carts tend to be used in all weather conditions, meaning that they also have to withstand extreme weather, temperature and corrosions.

To ensure electric carts are resilient enough and the regenerative effect of the motor/inverter combination does not cause a problem with the electronics, excess power is often ‘dumped’ into a braking resistor. Resistors are essential for safely monitoring the battery performance during discharging, as in the case of heavy braking while driving on a steep downhill section of the golf course.

REO has designed the BW155 range of resistors, which provide a variable load bank that can be programmed to discharge battery powers up to 130 kW. These resistors can handle short-term overloads of greater than 20 times the rated power, while their internal windings are double insulated. This ensures that, even in the event of an overload, there is a fail-safe mechanism in place that keeps everything protected.

As with any EV, the use and charging cycle of electric carts must be understood and managed. Unlike petrol carts that can simply be topped up, electric carts must be charged regularly, meaning that adequate charging infrastructure needs to be made available.

Nevertheless, battery-powered golf carts are a great first step towards creating a more sustainable sports industry. In the future, we could think of solar and wind powered carts in large private owned courses and facilities, which will provide opportunities for very low cost operation and ownership. We can also envision different applications for electric carts, as they are currently used in facilities maintenance, campus transport or as a more sustainable option for driving around the neighbourhood.

At REO, we provide components for electric carts and vehicles to help the transition towards a more sustainable sporting industry and revolutionise e-mobility in different sectors.

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