SeaWorld San Diego announced today an elevated solar panel project for its Aquatica waterpark in Chula Vista, to be operational by the start of the park’s 2018 season. SeaWorld is partnering with Onyx Renewable Partners L.P a leader in the development of commercial, industrial, and small-scale utility solar projects, on the installation.
The project will include approximately 3,780 solar panels, generating 80%-90% of the park’s annual energy use and lowering utility costs. The renewable energy from the sun will reduce SeaWorld’s CO2 emissions by over 10,000 metric tons over the life of the system (approximately 20 years), equal to removing 124 passenger vehicles off the road. This is important to SeaWorld, as increasing carbon emissions have been linked to ocean acidification and declining coral reefs.
The elevated solar panels will also provide more than 400 shaded parking spots for both guests and employees.
SeaWorld has a long history of environmental conservation throughout its 12 parks. The company eliminated the use of plastic gift bags at all of its parks beginning in 2011, and the use of LED lighting retrofits and installation of variable frequency drives has resulted in a 4% total reduced energy use across all parks. (2014 – 2016)
“We are proud to build upon our history of environmental stewardship,” said John Reilly, the chief operating officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and the former park president of SeaWorld San Diego. “This project is just one of several in the coming years to reduce our company’s environmental footprint, helping fulfill our mission and purpose.”
SeaWorld San Diego has led the company in its innovative practices and programs. In April 2015, the park implemented a saltwater flushing system in its newest restroom replacement, saving more than 1.5 million gallons of water annually. The park has also introduced several other water-saving measures and operating standards, including more drought-tolerant plants, computerized irrigation controllers, low-flow irrigation nozzles and increased mulching of landscape areas to conserve soil moisture. SeaWorld San Diego has also eliminated all polystyrene tableware and flatware in its restaurants and employee cafeterias - more than 8 million individual pieces of tableware and cutlery were shifted to compostable material - ensuring that this non-biodegradable waste does not end up in local landfills, on beaches and in the ocean ecosystem.
In addition, the park recycles millions of pounds of paper and plastic products, metals, greenery, food scraps, pallets, construction demolition debris, batteries and other, more traditional recyclable materials. Since 1994, it has received San Diego’s Recycler of the Year or Director’s award 19 times and is a nine-time recipient of the State of California Waste Reduction Awards program.
“We opened Aquatica San Diego five years ago and have continually been making improvements for our guests including the opening of an exciting, new water slide a few years ago,” said Carlos Cuevas, vice president of Aquatica. “The addition of solar panels that will power almost the entire park is a reminder to our guests of the role we can all play in helping conserve California’s precious natural resources.”
Not only is SeaWorld Entertainment adding solar, but in 2018, the company also plans to invest $2 to $3 million in energy efficiency projects at selected parks – primarily in lighting, air conditioning and automation systems – the largest capital expenditures on sustainable projects in the company’s history.
“We are pleased to assist SeaWorld in their pursuit of a more sustainable energy future. Given Onyx’s project experience in the San Diego area, this was a logical match. We appreciate the opportunity to continue bringing sustainable energy solutions to Southern California,” said Matt Rosenblum, CEO of Onyx.