Navigation for Nation's Busiest Harbor Runs on Solar, Wind

A solar and wind system now runs all the high-tech navigation systems used by the Marine Exchange of Southern California to track all vessels leaving and entering the nation’s busiest harbor, the Port of Los Angeles.

Designed and built over more than two years, the Renewable Energy Project is a network of 286 solar panels and four wind turbines. The small system generates 87 kilowatts (kW), but it is enough to handle the Marine Exchange’s power needs, while sending surplus back to the grid.

The high-tech equipment used by the non-profit Marine Exchange includes state-of-the art electronic radar equipment, radio communications and computer systems that keep tabs on the 5,000 ships and boats traveling California waters from San Diego to Port Hueneme each year and any ship within 100 miles of San Pedro Bay.

"We are the modern equivalent of a lighthouse that helps ships find their way safely,” says Richard McKenna, Executive Director of the Marine Exchange. “With this project, we are also a figurative lighthouse helping to guide the way to cleaner, greener operations in the San Pedro Bay.”

The Marine Exchange’s location on top of one of the highest points in San Pedro was a big reason it was possible. The location has unobstructed southeast exposure and afternoon westerly winds that offer some of the best windsurfing in Southern California at the beaches below.

The wind system employs an experimental vertical turbine to protect birds in the area.

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