While green air travel is still in its early stages, aircraft manufacturer Boeing is looking to make its operations a bit more sustainable.
The company plans to purchase renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at its factory in Washington State. This factory is particularly notable since it’s where Boeing assembles its 737, the best selling airliner in the history of air travel.
In conjunction with Puget Sound Energy, Boeing will move the factory toward an all-renewable energy mix, particularly utilizing wind and solar energy from the nearby Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility. In 2013, the utility’s energy mix comprised of at least 50 percent renewable sources, with natural gas and coal making up the other half.
"It will cost us a little more in the short term. We think the investment makes sense for the environment, our employees and the community," Beverly Wyse, vice president and general manager of the 737 program, said.
Boeing didn’t talk specifics in terms of cost, but it’s a pretty safe bet that it’ll be quite a bit. The factory assembles 42 planes a month and the building itself is roughly 4.3 million square feet.
Still, some energy may come from coal, as it can’t entirely be tracked where the plant’s energy comes from. Electricity generated is pooled onto a regional grid.
"You can't direct an electron to any one location. It goes to the power pool," Heather Mulligan with the utility, said. She said that renewable energy credits "are a way to basically put some ownership on that green electron at the point of use."
Any transition to green energy is a good one, though.
"They're basically turning their fossil power green, and that's laudable," Marc Krasnowsky, a spokesman for NW Energy Coalition, said.