California boatbuilder goes solar


The following is the text of a news release from Marine Group Boat Works (MGBW):

(NATIONAL CITY, Calif.) — Marine Group Boat Works, a family-owned boatbuilding and repair company with three facilities in San Diego and Los Cabos, recently completed a 500-kW rooftop solar panel system for its shipyard in National City, making it the first boatbuilder to use solar energy to construct boats.

“Our initial decision to go solar was driven primarily by our desire to be a zero-emission, low-impact boatbuilder,” said Todd Roberts, president of MGBW. "There’s no question that solar is an economic benefit, but there are many other advantages — everything from self-reliance and sustainability to doing the right thing. We chose to do the right thing.”

The new solar panel system will greatly decrease MGBW’s footprint and is expected to reduce annual energy consumption by 81 percent based on past and projected consumption. According to the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, MGBW’s new solar system will save the equivalent of annual greenhouse gas emissions from 1.21 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle while offsetting CO2 emissions from 57,002 gallons of gasoline consumed or 540,568 pounds of coal burned.

While MGBW has wanted to go solar for the past several years, energy consumption from boat repair was simply not great enough to warrant the investment. However, since MGBW opened its new construction division, increases in manufacturing and production output made possible by Navy and commercial newbuild contracts and facility upgrades made this the right time to do the right thing.

After a nationwide competitive search, Baker Electric Solar, a San Diego-based full-service solar provider, was selected to design and install the 500-kW rooftop solar panel system for MGBW. The total cost was $1.2 million and took about three months to complete. According to Baker Electric Solar, the new solar system will provide more than $3 million in net savings over the 25-year warranted life of the solar modules. Return on the initial investment is expected to take about five years.

“They worked closely with our structural engineering and steel contractor and added roof reinforcements designed to meet seismic requirements when the concern came up. Baker stayed on schedule, did a great job of communicating and even arranged the solar commissioning after-hours and on a weekend to help us avoid interruptions to our business operations,” said Roberts.

MGBW’s commitment to sustainability and low-impact construction makes it a pioneer in the industry, as recognized by the Port of San Diego, which awarded MGBW with the 2016 Renewable Energy Sustainability Achievement Award at the recent Port Tenant Green Business Network annual event held on Dec. 7.

In addition to the solar installation, MGBW reclaims 100 percent of stormwater runoff without discharging any water into the bay. Sandblasting and painting are done in enclosures where all air emissions and dust are recaptured and when possible, recycled. For the transportation of labor and materials between both of its San Diego facilities, a fleet of electric vehicles and forklifts further reduces the shipyard’s carbon footprint.

By Professional Mariner Staff