How harnessing the sun is helping the Honda Classic go green

3:42 p.m Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018 Local
Golf carts at the Honda Classic at PGA National Resort & Spa are solar-powered, thanks to Ra Power Pro. TV cameras used to broadcast the nationally-televised tournament are also partially powered by solar energy. Photo courtesy of Liz Denmark Photography

A solar technology company is harnessing the sun, powering some of the many golf carts which were zipping around the Honda Classic this weekend.

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Ra Power Pro is supplying solar panels to help keep the carts and CBS12 TV cameras running at PGA National Resort & Spa. The portable panels’ technology was originally developed for troops on the move in the desert overseas, Ra Power Pro President Geoff Haynes said.

Now, the company’s lightweight solar panels made in North Carolina are powering golf carts all over the country.

The panels are waterproof and impact-resistant, Haynes said — no need to worry about the occasional stray golf ball.

While the panels don’t completely replace the need for a traditional battery, they can generate about 40 percent of the energy needed for one round of golf in Florida. The solar power replaces energy from the electric grid, reducing the carbon footprint, Haynes said.

“If you can do this and contribute to being a good environmental steward, why wouldn’t you do that?” Haynes said.

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The company has also designed panels for local PGA pros who play as many as three rounds of golf per day, he said.

The Loxahatchee Club and The Els Center of Excellence in Jupiter and the Quail Ridge Country Club in Boynton Beach have all adopted the solar technology. The Honda Classic is renting the panels.

“Our objective is to take a leadership role in sustainability in golf,” Haynes said.

Ra Power Pro’s reach is going beyond golf. Wellington equestrian powerhouse Mark Bellissimo’s Tryon International Equestrian Center will use the panels during the World Equestrian Games at in Mill Spring, N.C. this fall, Haynes said. Similar to the Olympics, the games occur every four years and are run by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.

CBS is using the solar panels to charge up camera batteries. Haynes hooked up the channel’s charger to the panel, and the batteries returned to a full charge in a little over an hour, he said.

The panels are also useful for charging the camera batteries if news crews are shooting in a remote location such as the Everglades.

It’s still possible to generate solar power in the rain, although not as much, Haynes conceded.

Brian Adams, event director at CBS12 News, said he likes that they’re using the sun to power their cameras. They can do a handful of interviews with the charge, he said.

“It’s a great system that (Haynes) built to charge our cameras,” Adams said.

Ra Power Pro can also solarize FEMA command centers after a hurricane instead of relying on gas-powered generators.

“It’s actually much more cost-efficient,” Haynes said.