Lockheed Martin has placed itself to become a major player in solar energy as an engineer of “concentrated solar power plants“. There is no doubt that government on both the federal and the state level has taken steps to prioritize generating renewable energy. Congress has renewed the solar power investment tax credit for another eight years, the federal government will dedicate $170 million to solar power projects, and maybe most importantly, states have enacted aggressive renewable portfolio standards that necessitate utilities to progressively create a certain amount of power through renewable means.
“Lockheed isn't just a defense company,“ said Chris Myers, vice president for solar energy programs at Lockheed Martin. “We are a global company providing IT services to the government and commercial enterprises, and now we're offering energy diversification systems. So from our global security perspective, it's very in line with our business.“
Lockheed originally teamed up with Starwood Energy, the energy arm of private equity firm Starwood Capital, in 2007 to pursue solar energy projects. In May, Lockheed initiated the first of many deals to come along with Starwood Energy to design and build a 290-megawatt concentrated solar power plant for Arizona Public Service Co.
The plant is expected to provide electricity for 73,000 Arizona customers and scheduled to be completed in 2013. According to Myers estimates, the project is likely to generate more than $1 billion in revenues for Lockheed Martin.
Myers also said that Lockheed has about 34 more projects planned including 12 in the next two years. “There are just a lot of utilities looking at how they can meet renewable standards.“
In addition to utility projects in the commercial sector, Lockheed is also looking into the development solar power on civilian Department of Defense Installations. “These bases have lots of land that can be utilized,“ Myers said, “We have a lot of flexibility in getting into the marketplace, from a project financing perspective and from a permitting perspective in different states.“