Solar Tribune

San Diego Boatyard Is One of First U.S. Solar Boat Builders


Baker Electric Solar of San Diego has designed and installed a 483 kW rooftop solar system for Marine Group Boat Works (MGBW). MGBW says that it has now become one of the first American boatyards to use solar power to construct boats. The company is a family-owned, full-service vessel construction and repair company and is a longtime tenant of the Port of San Diego. The new system is located at MGBW’s 35,000-square-foot facility in National City in San Diego County, California.

Solar Panels at Marine Group Boat WorksTotal costs for the project were $1.2 million, which required about three months to complete. 1,558 Hyundai 310-watt solar modules with 14 SMA inverters comprise the system, which will result in an 81% reduction in annual electricity consumed by the company, based on both past and projected consumption. Projected savings in energy costs will be approximately $155,000 in the first year.

“Our initial decision to go solar was driven primarily by our desire to be a zero-emission, low impact boatbuilder,” said MGBW President Todd Roberts. “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, as we have in our other lines of businesses, to continue being leaders in our community.”

MGBW performed a nationwide search for a solar provider before contracting with Baker.

Scott Williams, Baker’s Director of Commercial Solar, said, “The new solar system not only minimizes MGBW’s carbon footprint, but also provides more than $3 million in net savings over the 25-year warranted life of the solar modules. We never lose sight of how renewable energy generation provides businesses with increased cash flow – freeing up capital to give them an edge in an ever-competitive environment.”

MGBW’s new solar system will offset the equivalent in CO2 emissions from 57,002 gallons of gasoline consumed, or 540,568 pounds of coal burned, according to the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

MGBW has wanted to go solar for several years, but energy consumption from boat repair was at that time too low to justify the investment. However, recent increases in manufacturing and production output due to Navy and commercial contracts and facility upgrades made this the right time to go forward, according to the company.

At a ceremony on December 7, the Port of San Diego honored its waterfront tenants for sustainability practices. Seven port tenant businesses were recognized at the event with Sustainable Achievement Awards for demonstrating exemplary performance with sustainability initiatives. Marine Group Boat Works received the Renewable Energy Award for installing the solar system at its National City boatyard. MGBW’s other environmental practices include reclaiming a hundred percent of storm water runoff while eliminating any discharge into the bay, and carrying out sandblasting and painting in an enclosure where all air emissions and dust are recaptured, so they can be recycled whenever possible.

Marshall Merrifield, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners, said, “The Port of San Diego is grateful to all of its tenants and subtenants for participating in the Green Business Network… A special thanks goes out to the seven tenants who went above and beyond this year to increase energy efficiency, reduce water usage, decrease waste, and improve the air quality around San Diego Bay.”

Cleantech San Diego President and CEO Jason Anderson said, “The San Diego region is a smart cities leader with a widespread commitment to adopting clean technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money. Thanks to partnerships between capable solar providers such as Baker and progressive businesses such as Marine Group Boat Works, we continue to chart a course toward a cleaner, more sustainable future for our region’s economy and environment.”


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