787 line in South Carolina is going solar

The Boeing Co. will power its 787 final assembly line in South Carolina solely using renewable energy, the company said Tuesday.

The aerospace company is partnering with South Carolina Electric and Gas for the project, which will include covering the roof of Boeing’s North Charleston site wit

h thin-film solar laminate panels.

“Our 787 Dreamliner is manufactured using fewer hazardous materials and designed to consume less fuel and produce fewer emissions,” Jim Albaugh, Boeing’s president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement. “It only makes sense that our business operations in South Carolina reflect the environmental progressiveness of the airplane we’ll build here.”

The solar installation will provide up to 2.6 megawatts of electrical power, enough to power approximately 250 homes. It will be the largest in the Southeast by production capacity, and the sixth largest in the United States.

Kevin Marsh, the president of South Carolina Electric and Gas, said the company is installing and maintaining more than 18,000 solar panels on the roof of the 10-acre building for 787 assembly.

The solar panels will provide about 20 percent of the electricity needed to power the site. The remaining 80 percent will be supplied by the utility’s biomass facility, which generates power using shrub and tree waste, Boeing said.

Boeing announced last week that the South Carolina facility also will be a zero waste site, meaning that none of the waste materials and byproducts generated at the site will reach a landfill.

Jack Jones, vice president and general manager for Boeing South Carolina, said the new plant should be operational in July. It is home to the second 787 assembly line, with the first located in Everett. Ultimately, Boeing intends to produce three 787s monthly in South Carolina and at least 7 monthly in Everett.

Boeing says its 787 will burn about 20 percent less fuel than similarly-sized aircraft. The company also has a plan to recycle most of the mostly composite 787s when the aircraft eventually retire from service. Boeing is about three years behind schedule in delivering the first 787.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Boeing’s decision to use solar power will be noted nationwide.

“The fact that Boeing would lead the way is going to make it easier for other businesses in South Carolina and in the country to follow,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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