Catalina Island lies just 22 miles (35km) off the coast of Los Angeles and attracts over 1 million people every years to enjoy its beaches, hotels, historic casino and activities like scuba diving, golf and hiking.
All of that requires electricity, and the island’s needs are supplied by a generating plant with 6 diesel generators that burn about 2 million gallons of diesel fuel every year.
Obviously anything that can be done to reduce that combustion is a good thing for the atmosphere.
Newport Electric Boats designs, develops and sells electric motors for sailboats and owner Walt White can see Catalina Island in the distance from their office in Costa Mesa. Beyond his work replacing diesel and gas motors on sailboats, he works to reduce carbon emissions in general.
White has developed the SOLARIS project (Sustainable Offshore Landing and Recharging Infrastructure Solution) for Catalina’s Avalon Harbor as a project to help reduce dependence on fossil fuel electricity generation.
His hope is that by demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of the SOLARIS idea, this pilot project can pave the way for further expansion and development of green power infrastructure for marinas throughout Southern California.
Plugboats is happy to publish the outline of the project here. Walt is looking for input and involvement from the local geographical community, but also the broader community of those interested in reducing carbon emissions from boats and boating. If you would like to contribute in any way, or just find out more, Walt encourages you to »» send him an email with the subject ‘SOLARIS’.
A Vision for Green & Accessible Power at Avalon Harbor — SOLARIS
Walt White, Newport Electric Boats
The SOLARIS. (Sustainable Offshore Landing and Recharging Infrastructure Solution) project at Avalon Harbor represents a forward-thinking solution that caters not only to electric and hybrid boats but also to conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) boats, which currently dominate the boating landscape.
By offering clean, green, and accessible AC power to all boats, this project seeks to create an inclusive and environmentally friendly marina experience. This concept paper aims to ignite the imagination and inspire the local community and boating enthusiasts to embrace a sustainable future in Avalon Harbor and beyond.
The SOLARIS project envisions a sustainable and accessible boating experience for all, regardless of their vessel type.
The project recognizes the need to accommodate the existing ICE boat community, and by providing easy access to clean AC power, it seeks to reduce the reliance on noisy, polluting generators and engine idling for recharging batteries.
This vision will enhance the overall experience of visiting Avalon Harbor and the Channel Islands, making it more attractive for both the boating community and the local residents.
Key Benefits for the Boating Community:
- Clean, renewable AC power for all boats
The project offers standardized 120V AC at 30A or 240V AC at 50A charging solutions, catering to the needs of electric, hybrid, and conventional ICE boats, from smaller electric boats used for near-shore exploration to larger yachts traveling between Southern California harbors and Avalon.
- Reduced noise and air pollution
SOLARIS helps minimize the use of generators and engine idling, reducing noise pollution and improving air quality in the harbor, leading to a more pleasant environment for both boaters and local residents.
- Enhanced appeal of Avalon Harbor
The project showcases Avalon Harbor as a leader in sustainable boating practices, improving visitor experience and positioning the harbor as a premier destination for environmentally conscious boaters.
- Scalable and adaptive infrastructure
The modular dock system can be easily expanded or reconfigured to meet the evolving needs of the boating community. As demand for electric and hybrid boats grows, the dock can be adapted to accommodate this growth, ensuring that Avalon Harbor remains a cutting-edge, sustainable marina.
- Flexible configuration for various boat sizes
The dock is designed to accommodate a range of boat sizes, from small electric boats used for coastal exploration to larger yachts traveling between Southern California harbors and Avalon. This flexibility ensures that a wide variety of boaters can benefit from the clean, renewable power provided by the dock.
- Clean, renewable AC power for all boats
The SOLARIS Dock Design
The SOLARIS project will feature a modular 10-slip floating dock designed with boaters’ needs and comfort in mind. The dock will incorporate a canopy solar array that not only generates clean, renewable energy but also provides shade and shelter for docked vessels. The weatherproof infrastructure will include NEMA4 enclosures and power distribution systems that mimic the familiar shore power connections found at land-based docks, ensuring a seamless experience for boaters.
To further enhance convenience and accessibility, an electric-powered water taxi or shuttle service will be available to transport visitors between the dock and the land dock. This service will operate at 20-minute intervals, allowing boaters to easily transfer between the two locations.
Pilot project success and expansion potential
By demonstrating the feasibility and benefits of the dock system, the pilot project will pave the way for further expansion and development of green power infrastructure throughout the Channel Islands and other marinas in Southern California.
The project financials are designed to be competitive with traditional guest slips. The cost per guest slip will be equivalent to a typical guest slip in Newport Beach or Marina Del Rey, with fees based on the linear foot of the slip, and AC power will be an additional charge at the typical land-based electricity rates.
Cost Estimates and Partnerships
The SOLARIS project aims to provide a sustainable and accessible boating experience at Avalon Harbor. In order to accomplish this, we have outlined key areas of the project and now need estimated costs for various parts of the project. In addition to community buy-in, we’d like to identify possible partners who can contribute their expertise and resources to make this project a reality.
Floating dock system
Estimates to include mooring, anchoring, and installation costs. Potential partners for this component include marina construction companies and manufacturers of floating dock systems.
Estimates to including a canopy-style solar array, including mounting hardware and installation costs. Potential partners for the solar array include solar installation companies and manufacturers of solar panels.
Battery storage system
Estimates to include a 48V DC LFP battery system housed in NEMA4 enclosures. Potential partners for the battery storage system include battery manufacturers and suppliers, as well as companies specializing in energy storage solutions.
Estimates to include shore power connections, electrical distribution equipment, and installation costs.
- Power conversion, distribution
- Electrical wiring and safety equipment
- Shore power pedestals for 10 slips
- Smart charging system and reservation platform
- Charging management software and hardware
Electric water taxi/shuttle service
Estimates to include the acquisition and operation of an electric-powered water taxi for the shuttle service.
Permitting, engineering, and environmental studies
Partners for this component include engineering firms, environmental consulting firms, and local regulatory agencies.
Community engagement, and education
Partners for this component include local businesses, tourism agencies, and environmental organizations. We are actively seeking opportunities to discuss this vision with organizations and companies who share our passion for a sustainable and accessible boating experience at Avalon Harbor. By combining our resources and expertise, we can create a lasting, positive impact on the future of boating and the environment.
Call to Action
The SOLARIS project at Avalon Harbor presents a unique opportunity for the community to come together and make a lasting, positive impact on the future of boating and the environment. By embracing this innovative concept, we can create a truly sustainable and enjoyable boating experience that benefits everyone – from electric boat pioneers to conventional ICE boat enthusiasts.
If you are interested in discussing any part of this project, please send an email to: