The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) complex, a headquarters for high-tech military command, communications and surveillance in San Diego, now hosts 1.3 megawatts of solar panels from SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer for more than 35 years. The system, the Navy’s largest contiguous rooftop solar array, is starting its first full year of generating electricity. Designed and constructed in 2011 by SolarWorld partner Stronghold Engineering Inc., the project earned the Navy’s top commendations for construction quality and safety.
In October, the Navy awarded Stronghold, an engineering, procurement and construction contractor based in Riverside, Calif., the Star Award for Safety and an Outstanding Evaluation on the Construction Contractor Appraisal Support System for Stronghold’s work on the SPAWAR system. These honors represent the Navy’s highest recognitions of excellence in construction quality, timeliness and safety. Awarded to only 15 percent of contractors doing business with the Navy, the Star Award is given to companies that demonstrate the most proactive approach to safety during the life of their contracts.
“It is clear that the U.S. Department of the Navy, Stronghold and SolarWorld share the same commitment to reducing the country's carbon footprint and producing green energy in ways that lives up to the highest standards of safety and quality,” said Chuck Gossage, executive vice president of Stronghold Engineering.The solar installation crowns SPAWAR’s headquarters facility, a prominent building bounded by Interstate 5 and Pacific Highway in San Diego’s Old Town district. It features 5,376 high-performance solar panels manufactured by SolarWorld in Hillsboro, Ore., as well as domestically produced balance-of-system components. The installation, which will feed power into the San Diego grid, is part of military-wide efforts to conserve energy and reduce reliance on fuels, especially from offshore.
“For many years, the Department of Defense has been on the leading edge of the federal government’s efforts to tap solar technology to reduce energy consumption, promote sustainability and lower the cost of doing business,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas. “By selecting high-quality American manufacturers and installers to supply, design and construct DOD solar projects, the U.S. military is making even greater strides to increase its sustainable energy independence.”SolarWorld and its predecessors have provided solar panels to the military for more than 30 years. From 1987 to 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard used solar panels made by SolarWorld precursors to power tens of thousands of navigational buoys on inter-coastal waterways and along both coasts. More recently, SolarWorld solar panels have powered installations at U.S. military bases at home and overseas, including the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty Nine Palms, Calif., Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., and Apra Harbor Naval Base in Guam.