Sandia Photovoltaic Vehicle receives GreenGov Presidential Award

Press Release
Oct 7, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that a photovoltaic (PV) vehicle created by Sandia National Laboratories has received a 2010 GreenGov Presidential Award. The awards recognize extraordinary achievement in the pursuit of President Obama’s Executive Order 13514 on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance.

The GreenGov Presidential Awards honor exceptional Federal civilian and military personnel, agency teams, agency projects and facilities, and agency programs that exemplify President Obama’s charge to lead by example in sustainability.

“Sandia’s effort in recognizing the need to create a more energy-efficient campus is a great example of NNSA’s commitment to ensuring that we are effective stewards of the environment,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D’Agostino. “I applaud the Sandia photovoltaic vehicle team for incorporating technology and solar power to promote energy efficiency.”

The solar-powered vehicle was developed by a cross-functional Sandia team including an Energy Management team and Fleet Services Organization. The goal of the project was to reduce grid-tied energy use, increase renewable-energy use, and implement solutions for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The team chose to pursue the implementation of PV because of abundant solar energy in New Mexico’s geographical region, recognition of the appropriate application, and the opportunity to determine whether a PV-driven concept could be developed that did not have a life-long payback period. Further, if Sandia could replace its fleet of electric-powered carts with solar-powered carts, substantial savings would be realized.

The project received funding approval in early FY2009 and was completed within two months. The project has been in operation for about 10 months. The modified Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) cart no longer needs to be plugged in to a cord reel or power station to charge. Instead, the roof-top PV panel collects sunlight, which then charges the batteries. On cloudy days, if needed, the cart can be plugged in, bypassing the PV system. When the batteries are fully charged, the connection to the batteries is shut off, preventing them from being overcharged, thereby extending their lifespan. Fully powered by solar energy, the carts need no grid-tied electricity, so power is not purchased to operate them.

Project team members include Matthew Brito, Erika Barraza, Mark Crawford, Diana Goold, Jennifer Keese, Israel Martinez, Richard Otero, and Darcy Fischer.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.