KENTWOOL Innovates with Solar Power
New Solar Electric System Installed at Global Operations Base is Unique Among SC ManufacturersKENTWOOL’s vision to become the premier wool innovation and manufacturing company in the world continues to accelerate forward in 2009 with new sustainability initiatives, including the launch of a solar electricity generation system at the company’s North American manufacturing complex located in Pickens County.
The state-of-the-art 15.6 kW solar electric system, designed and installed by Greer, SC-based Sunstore Solar Energy Solutions, is unique among South Carolina manufacturers. The leading-edge utility-interactive design – which creates electricity from sunlight – incorporates 72 photovoltaic panels mounted on a series of poles which track sunlight east to west during the day. The phase 1 installation generates enough power to offset all office and corporate functions of KENTWOOL’s 100,000 sq ft Upstate SC operations base. The initial installation maximizes output and minimizes cost per watt produced; and, is designed for expansion that could substantially offset manufacturing processing power requirements in the future.
The intelligent design incorporates a web-based monitoring system that allows for efficient online tracking of system performance, concurrently enhancing total system reliability. The initial investment of approximately $150,000 qualifies for federal and state tax credits, as well as accelerated depreciation over a 5-year period. The installation was completed in December 2008, and was fully commissioned in January 2009.
Mark Kent, KENTWOOL President & CEO, stated "Having such a bold corporate vision statement demands an innovative approach to everything we do, including how we use resources to fuel our operations. Integrating cutting-edge, environmentally friendly technologies such as solar power into how we conduct business is an exciting step for KENTWOOL. We didn’t want to just talk about caring about the environment; we wanted to begin doing our part in a high-impact way – and felt this was a great time to continue investing in our company’s future, while increasing our overall efficiency level.”
Bruce Wood of Sunstore Solar Energy Solutions expressed his company’s appreciation to participate in such a progressive project. According to Wood, "We’re honored to work with visionary advanced manufacturing companies such as KENTWOOL. It’s particularly satisfying to help corporate partners achieve measurable benefits through the utilization of rapidly advancing alternative power-generation technologies – which are ready and available to American manufacturers today. In the future, we look forward to expanding the system at KENTWOOL, making it a demonstration site that showcases the capabilities of solar power technologies.”
According to KENTWOOL Chief Financial Officer, Lynn Barrett, "This system is a smart investment that will increase our operational efficiency and pay for itself over time – while enhancing our role as a corporate citizen of South Carolina. We hope to expand the system capabilities in the future in order to further offset a major portion of our manufacturing power generation requirements.”
Sustainability is becoming a foundational component of KENTWOOL’s commitment to innovation. In addition to the new utility interactive solar electric system, KENTWOOL already has fully implemented strategies in place for the recycling of all raw materials and unused production waste materials into re-usable or sellable products – ranging from industrial fabrics to blankets. The company is also exploring new eco-friendly manufacturing processes alongside Clemson University scientists, which could ultimately raise the bar for the entire textile industry.
The innovative Upstate SC-based textile company has been in business for 165 years, and has a state-of-the-art wool-based yarn spinning operation serving a diversified international customer portfolio covering the knitting, spinning, weaving and industrial textile markets.
President/CEO, Mark Kent, is a 20-year veteran of the textile industry and has served on several national industry boards including the American Textile Export Company and the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. He has been extremely active in South Carolina manufacturing, business, economic development and philanthropic circles, and serves on numerous strategic boards including the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the American Red Cross Upstate South Carolina Chapter. In addition to his leadership of KENTWOOL, he is also President of Greenville-based KENT WORLDWIDE and KENT WORLDWIDE DEVELOPMENT.