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Greenville Business Magazine

Upstate’s Largest Solar Array Makes Debut

Oct 05, 2017 08:23AM ● Published by Emily Stevenson

By John McCurry

The Upstate’s largest solar array, operational since February, had its official debut on Wednesday. The array is on the Anderson campus of Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, a division of North Carolina-based Glen Raven, which might lead the U.S. textile industry in the movement to solar energy. This is the second major solar project for the company.

“We have culturally always had a great interest and responsibility to make sure we are looking at environmentally sound and sustainable practices, says Lieb Oehmig, Glen Raven’s president and CEO.

Oehmig says Glen Raven expects to achieve payback on its $2 million investment within four years in terms of energy savings. This is the second solar array for the high-tech textile manufacturer. The first was a rooftop installation at its plant in Norlina, N.C., about 60 miles north of Raleigh.

The Anderson solar array could be expanded in the coming years, Oehmig says. Glen Raven owns adjoining property that is suitable for more solar panels. The current site was chosen for the sunshine angles if offers.

Physical constraints dictated a free-standing array in Anderson rather than rooftop. The new array will give the company an opportunity see which type of installation offers the most positives as it considers possible future installations at other facilities.

Oehmig notes that Glen Raven’s sustainability program begins with its manufacturing processes. The Sunbrella performance fabrics that the Anderson plant produces have a life expectancy far beyond most textiles. The company also has a recycling program for when those fabrics do reach their end.

“We have a million square feet of manufacturing space here, and we are completely landfill free,” Oehmig says. “This is one of our core values, and because we are trying to make sure we are good stewards of the communities we serve, we have the same types of programs globally. We currently have assets in 17 countries on six continents. Globally, we are more than 90 percent landfill free.”

Glen Raven partners with Duke Energy through its Solar Rebate Program. The Anderson installation is one of the largest net-metering solar systems in South Carolina. Atlanta-based Hannah Solar installed the 3,076 solar panels.

Glen Raven says the solar array will:

  • Offset enough waste annually to equal the planting of 2,500 tree seedlings each year
  • Supply enough energy to power 105 homes
  • Power 100 percent of the lights at the 1-million-square-foot Anderson Plant
  • Generate an average of 1,420,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually from 3,076 panels
  • Produce enough energy to offset the equivalent of 317 tons of waste
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