Powered by the sun

Mercury Marine adds solar array to Fond du Lac warehouse

Posted on Mar 12, 2021 :: Plant News
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

Mercury Marine President Chris Drees set an audacious goal in early 2020: to derive 50 percent of the company’s electricity from renewable sources by the end of 2030. A new project at the marine manufacturer’s headquarters in Fond du Lac is moving the company closer to that objective.

In January, Mercury Marine completed the installation of a photovoltaic solar panel array on the roof of one of its warehouses in Fond du Lac. The 6-by-4-foot panels are tilted at an 18-degree angle facing south. The 320-panel array generates enough electricity to light the warehouse for the next 30 years, says Scott Louks, sustainability and facilities projects management manager for Mercury Marine.

“It’s exciting to deploy a project like this,” he says. “It’s the first renewable energy project at our Fond du Lac complex. It’s a cool project to have and to know that we will have a positive impact.”

The Fond du Lac project is Mercury Marine’s second foray into solar energy. In 2017, the company installed a 2,000-panel array at its European headquarters in Petit-Rechain, Belgium. That solar array, combined with improved insulation at the location, reduces the amount of electricity the facility draws from the grid by 33 percent, thus lowering the facility’s utility costs and enabling substantial use of clean and sustainable energy.

“That was a test case to see how it would work,” Louks says. “The Fond du Lac project is another pilot that will lead to additional solar arrays at other facilities.”

Worldwide, Mercury Marine has 80 facilities in 20 countries. 

Mercury’s solar array is one of many steps the company is taking to reach that goal of 50 percent of all energy from renewable sources by 2030. “It’s definitely the right thing to do,” Louks says.

Mercury Marine will continue to take steps to reach that goal over the next 10 years. “We are committed to our focus on sustainable business practices, including investment in renewable energy and reduction of our carbon footprint,” Drees says. “We will continue to elevate our commitment to sustainability across all of our global locations.”

The solar array is not visible from the ground, but Mercury Marine is creating a showcase display that will share how much electricity the solar array creates. “We want to be able to share the message of what we’re doing and how it’s working,” Louks says. “Maybe some other businesses will see what we have done and say, ‘If Mercury Marine can do it, why can’t we?’”

The manufacturer’s focus on sustainability has not gone unnoticed. Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program named Mercury Marine a winner of its 2020 Energy Excellence Award. In granting the honor, the program cited multiple Mercury initiatives, including the modernization of HVAC and lighting systems, containment of compressed air systems, optimization of power on/off cycles for equipment and facilities, redirection of manufacturing-generated heat for multiple purposes, and incorporation of natural lighting and passive heating into the design of new facilities.

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