As our society makes the shift to clean energy and electrification, one of the most sustainable services a company can offer is retrofitting older infrastructure to make it cleaner and greener! When it comes to marine fleets, Newport Electric Boats is leading the charge by converting sailboats from diesel into electric.
Green had the chance to connect with Walt White, Founder and CEO of Newport Electric Boats, to learn a little bit more about this emerging industry!
Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:
I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and learned to sail on mountain lakes with my family after my father bought a 19 foot catamaran when I was about 10 years old. As a kid, academics weren’t my strongest suit, but I was always a builder and creator, and would frequently be working on projects in a garage workshop. I graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering in 1995, and got my MBA from UC Irvine in 2007. My career has always circulated around new product development, in a range of roles from engineering to project management, often involving software, electronics, and mechanical systems. I’ve followed entrepreneurial callings a few times in the past with varying degrees of success.
Currently, I’m the founder and CEO of Newport Electric Boats, LLC, where we design, develop and sell electric motors designed specifically for sailboats. We have a 10 kW and 15 kW drop-in electric motor that provides a direct diesel replacement, fitting in the boat exactly where and how the original diesel engine was situated.
What is a fun fact about you?
I have a 1984 video game in my living room, called Robotron. I play it once or twice a day – I love it and am quite good at it!
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
Climate change moves slowly, but it will have a huge impact on people and millions of other species on earth. Trying to minimize the impact now, before its more devastating effects are felt all around us, is very important. Most people don’t think about it on a regular basis which is good, since it would cause stress and social unrest. However, leaders of larger corporations and other entities that can create regulations should be taking more action now. For example, requiring more accountability for sustainable fishing (including abandoned nets) as well as industrial farming practices, logging, and the list goes on and on. The sooner we can curb our impact on the environment, the easier it will be to deal with for our children and their children.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Sailboats in particular have an excellent opportunity to transition to electric motors. They have their sails for the long-haul and under favorable wind conditions, can use some of that energy to re-charge their batteries. I believe over the next 10 years, many more sailboats manufacturers will offer electric drive as a standard configuration. I also believe that many older sailboats originally outfitted with a diesel, will transition to a clean and green electric solution, like the one offered by my company. Sailing is a recreational sport, one that provides a unique experience in the marine environment, and I believe it is best done in an environmentally friendly way.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
There are many things we can all do to help reduce our carbon footprint. Most importantly, we all need to individually think about our own actions and what we can do to help make a positive impact on climate change. It is a little different for everyone, ranging from reducing the amount of beef being eaten, to driving an electric car if you’re able to do so. The world needs happy healthy people running around doing productive things, but we should be mindful of the actions we take, to make them more environmentally sustainable.
Green.Org is a television show, podcast, social media, and news platform, hosted by Dylan Welch, that highlights climate change scientists, renewable energy experts, and clean tech entrepreneurs by giving them a voice in the mainstream media. The Green podcast highlights leading experts in cleantech, sustainability, media, finance, and real estate. Tune in and subscribe to the podcast on Apple or Spotify to listen to interviews with leading cleantech and sustainable experts. If you are interested in being featured on Green, click HERE.