Companies in the renewable energy marketplace see the field in a variety of ways. Likely they all see a multi-tier benefit structure to renewables, but Lockheed Martin, according to Chris Myers, Vice President of International Business Development and Energy Markets, sees renewables primarily as a security issue.
This stance is perhaps not surprising, given the company’s long standing as one of the United States premier military contractors. Lockheed was the platinum sponsor of the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo last week in Honolulu and Myers spoke about the significant interest Lockheed has in the clean energy economy.
Construction, energy efficiency, agricultural, feedstock processing, engineering assembly and market research and development are the areas LM sees the biggest growth in green jobs. LM is actually the U.S.’s largest employer of graduating engineers in the U.S.
Hawaii is not alone in its sustainability challenges, according to Myers. Guam, the Marshall Islands, and many other island nations in the Pacific are nearly at 100% electricity from imported oil. Japan has a green alliance which considers ways to introduce renewable energy tech into US bases in Japan.
Lockheed is in biomass, biofuels, solar, OTEC, wave, tidal, and fuel cell technology. They also do nuclear command and control systems, micro-grids, and energy storage, which they refer to as the “holy grail” of the renewable energy industry. Myers acknowledged that though they hire a lot of engineers, the majority of innovation is really happening in small companies. Their global supply chain and global reach offers them a tremendous opportunity to help small businesses expand. This mirrors GE’s Ecomagination project from last summer to some degree and is an interesting development in the big business community that bodes well for the future of the green economy.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, or OTEC, is a major priority for Lockheed. Myers showed a thermal map of the world, indicating the regions with good potential for OTEC, and much of the Pacific region was a high capacity region. This is especially exciting because OTEC is a dependable base load, and can provide reliable power to Hawai’i, Guam, the Marshall Islands among others.
Lockheed has also been working in wave energy, with a 1.5 MW test facility off Reedsport, OR. They’re looking to expand this technology, which has proven itself through tsunamis and hurricanes. Tidal power, which has the potential for 180TWh, is also on their radar, with a test facility having proven the technology in the Bay of Fundi.
Lockheed’s positioning as a military contractor allows it to tap into the Department of Defense, which is the largest single purchaser of fuel in the world. The DoD can help drive the market there, said Myers. The U.S. Navy has signaled its intention to “Sail the green fleet”, and wants to test biofuels throughout 2012 and sail this fleet by 2016. The U.S. Air Force is looking for a 50/50 blend of what they refer to as “drop-in” green fuels. “Drop-in” fuel means that a biofuel can simply replace a petrochemical jet fuel with no loss of performance. Myers assured the crowd at the Asia Pacific Clean Energy Summit and Expo that Lockheed, the platinum sponsor of the Summit, plans to be there with the DoD every step of the way.
Scott Cooney is the developer of a new Triple Bottom Line, Monopoly-esque board game, and the author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill).