Boeing’s solar array at Dreamliner facility up and running

Boeing’s solar array at Dreamliner facility up and runningBoeing South Carolina’s new 787 Dreamliner final assembly facility in New Charleston, S.C., now has the largest operational rooftop solar array in the Southeast U.S. The array was commissioned on Dec. 2 and is helping the company reach its goal of powering the facility from 100 percent renewable electricity.

“Boeing is 100 percent green energy at the site,” South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) spokesperson Kim Asbill. “All of the energy they will use for that site is 100 percent green. A portion of it comes from the solar panels. The rest of it will come from a biomass system [in North Charleston, S.C.]. So SCE&G is providing them with 100 percent green energy.”

Construction on the rooftop solar system began in May 2011. The majority of work on the site was completed in October, according to Asbill. However, it took some time before it was completely commissioned.

“Our project is 100 percent complete. So we have reached completion and it’s up and working,” she said.

In all, 10 acres of the massive 14-acre building are covered with thin-film laminate photovoltaic modules.

“There are more than 18,000 panels on the roof,” Asbill said.

SCE&G, a SCANA Corp unit, owns and maintains the 2.6-megawatt array, which is large enough to power roughly 250 homes, but will only power about 20 percent of Boeing’s electric needs at the site.

“All the energy created there will actually stay on the campus,” Asbill said. And that’s despite the location going for LEED Gold certification.

This is the first time SCE&G has undertaken such a large solar project, according to Asbill.

Although, the utility does offer some solar incentive programs.

“We do have a net-metering program, and we have customers using solar, just not of this magnitude,” she said. ‘This is a first for SCE&G. We look forward to possibly other customers approaching us and talking to us about ways we might be able to work with them in the future [on such projects].”

It’s also the first time that Boeing has chosen to go entirely renewable at any of its facilities.

Pictured: Jack Jones, Boeing South Carolina vice president, and Kevin Marsh, SCANA CEO, turn the solar array on. Image courtesy of SCE&G.