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Lockheed Martin goes solar

Advanced Green Technologies has completed a 2.25-MW carport solar project in Florida that will deliver significant cost savings for aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin-and the company now has the bragging rights of having the largest private so

By Tony Kryzanowski

From its big picture view, Advanced Roofing Inc., one of North America's preeminent roofing companies, recognized an opportunity on the horizon a number of years ago and made the decision to diversify into rooftop solar power installation as part of its overall strategy to be an expert on all things related to roofing.

In 2007, Advanced Roofing established a subsidiary called Advanced Green Technologies (AGT), which is focused on rooftop solar power installations.

"We saw it coming, and we wanted to be out in front of the curve," says Clint Sockman, vice president of both AGT and Advanced Roofing. Sockman was with the roofing division when AGT was established. The company was one of the earliest to adopt rooftop solar installation in the eastern United States.

This diversification strategy has undoubtedly been a success. Today, AGT is building multi-megawatt rooftop and carport systems, as well as utility scale ground-mount systems for some of the nation's largest utilities. It has installed over 200 megawatts (MW) of rooftop, carport, and ground-mounted solar in North America and the Caribbean, ranging from 25-kW rooftop installations to 20-MW utility-scale farms. The company says that from a project number perspective, 80 percent of the solar arrays being installed in its trading area are on rooftops, but the vast majority of the capacity installed is in the utility and carport markets as they tend to be much larger projects.

AGT does a significant amount of business in Florida. For its solar resource, Florida is (no surprise) in the mid to upper range among American states for solar availability.

One of AGT's recently completed projects in the Sunshine State is a 2.25-MW carport project for Lockheed Martin's Oldsmar location. It is the largest carport project AGT has constructed to date and the largest private solar array in Florida. The project has 7,260 solar modules mounted on a 151,400 square foot area, which provides protected parking for 534 vehicles.

Aerospace, defense, and technology company Lockheed Martin is Florida's largest industrial employer, with more than 12,000 employees working at various facilities. The Oldsmar location employs 380 workers and provides engineering, software development, and other services for Lockheed Martin programs.

The Oldsmar solar array is one of three solar power projects the company has initiated in Florida, with the goal of providing a total of 3 MW of renewable power from all three projects. The Oldsmar facility is delivering big savings to the company, cutting its utility costs by 60 percent, for annual savings of about $300,000. That is a savings of $6.5 million over 25 years at current energy prices and a greenhouse gas emissions savings of 35 percent, as a result of deflecting energy consumption away from conventional fossil fuel sources. In addition to the energy savings and reduced environmental footprint, the carport is also providing some much appreciated shade for employee vehicles.

"This plant is indicative of Lockheed Martin's drive to be energy efficient and a responsible corporate citizen," says Leo Mackay, Lockheed Martin's vice president of sustainability. He says the Oldsmar project is a building block in Lockheed Martin's larger effort to align the company with the demands of the 21st century, which it describes as global security, advanced infrastructure, and renewable energy.

 
  Advanced Green Technologies (AGT), a division of Advanced Roofing Inc., was the turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor on the Oldsmar project. This included the entire parking lot asphalt replacement, installation of a custom designed, steel carport structure with concrete foundations equipped with a solar power racking system, and an under-canopy LED lighting system.
  

What helped to streamline Advanced Roofing's diversification into the solar installation business and attract customers was its general contracting experience in Florida, its expert roofing knowledge, and the amount of work it could handle on its own on each project.

"Advanced has always had the thought process over the past 35 years that if it happened on a rooftop, we wanted to control it," says Sockman, adding that the company operates several business units related to services emanating from the rooftop, including Advanced Air Systems and Advanced Lightning Protection Systems. It also provides support services related to installing rooftop components, such as Advanced Crane Technologies.

"AGT was the next evolution," explains Sockman. "It was a natural fit. We saw what was happening in California, we saw what was happening in Europe, and we had the vision to step up and say that rooftop solar is coming to us as well."

Advanced Roofing already had expert knowledge of rooftop load limits and material warranty requirements, as well as the general contracting expertise and support equipment to provide quality rooftop installation. As solar power began to proliferate-driven somewhat by government legislation and substantial reduction in the cost of solar components-AGT was at the forefront of the solar wave. Given the knowledge it acquired installing solar arrays on rooftops, it was a natural evolution to take the next logical step into carport solar arrays and ground-mounted systems.

"We were not only designing and installing rooftop systems in Florida," says Sockman. "We were also selling solar products to other roofing contractors around the country. What has naturally happened over the past 10 years is that we have grown from a solar division inside a roofing company that was focused on rooftop solar installations, to being one of the largest Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) companies in the southeast region of the country."

Sockman says that AGT was awarded the Oldsmar carport construction and solar installation project over seven other suppliers after a rigorous bidding process managed by Lockheed Martin. What AGT brought to the table was not only experience in solar power installation, but also the ability to both design and build the project. It only took six months-March to September 2015-to construct and switch on the power, but an additional three months were spent in advance on permitting and design work.

 
The solar power facility is delivering big savings to Lockheed Martin, cutting its utility costs by 60 percent, for annual savings of about $300,000. That is a savings of $6.5 million over 25 years at current energy prices and a greenhouse gas emissions savings of 35 percent, as a result of deflecting energy consumption away from conventional fossil fuel sources.  
  

Local permitting for the project was part of AGT's service to Lockheed Martin, as well as working with Duke Energy Florida, which is the facility's conventional power provider, to handle all interconnection studies and agreements. Florida does not allow companies like AGT to sell power directly to customers, but solar array owners like Lockheed Martin must wheel the solar power they generate through the connection to their existing utility's system. AGT negotiated an interconnection agreement on Lockheed Martin's behalf with Duke Energy Florida for the interconnection. Sockman says it was a fairly easy process due to its experience; AGT has an extensive understanding of Florida's regulations governing the tie-in of renewable power installations to the existing grid.

AGT is not a power distributor; it is a developer of solar power projects owned by its customers. The Oldsmar installation is wired so that power generated by the solar array-and wheeled through the Duke Energy system-is consumed on a priority basis and credited to Lockheed Martin using Florida's net metering system. Power from Duke Energy Florida makes up the difference to fulfill Lockheed Martin's entire power needs.

AGT was the turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor on the Oldsmar project. This included the entire parking lot asphalt replacement, installation of a custom designed, steel carport structure with concrete foundations equipped with a solar power racking system, and an under-canopy LED lighting system. The structure did not exist and was provided by AGT as part of the contract. Overall, Sockman says AGT was able to self-perform more than half of the overall project installation because of its in-house resources.

"The ability for us to provide a clear path forward, to lay out staging and phasing plans, ensuring that Lockheed Martin would be able to keep their facility operational while installing a significant construction project, and the ability for us to have full control of our design and installation process, was a big reason for the successful implementation of this project," says Sockman.

Being located in Florida, the carport solar array did provide some design challenges, but not anything that AGT hadn't encountered before, given the amount of work it does in the state. For example, hurricane force winds in excess of 150 miles per hour were taken into consideration in the structural design.

Sockman adds that because Lockheed Martin is insured by Factory Mutual, the project had to meet Factory Mutual guidelines.

"Any time that Factory Mutual becomes involved, projects become heavily scrutinized," he says.

Because of limited parking resources, the project had to be carefully phased so that employees had somewhere to park and the facility could continue to operate.

Hanwha Solar One provided the high-efficiency, S-series solar modules for the project, with inverters provided by Sungrow. Components supplied for the project were rated for the Florida environment, such as wind resistance and corrosion resistance from saltwater spray. Issues like this were also taken into account with the steel structure and coatings on the steel structure, given that it is a 25-year energy production asset.

"I think the Lockheed Martin folks were comfortable working with a company in their home state that's on call, as well," says Sockman.

 


May/June 2016