The United States Department of Defense has signed a deal with Silicon Valley startup Skyline Solar to test its concentrating photovoltaic technology at military bases in California and Texas.
The Pentagon, one of the nation’s biggest consumers of energy, has emerged as a driver of new green technologies in an effort to wean itself of imported oil, reduce its carbon footprint and improve national security.
Earlier this year, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus pledged that within a decade the U.S. Navy would obtain half of its energy on land and sea from renewable sources. Back in 2007, the Air Force commissioned SunPower to build what was then the country’s largest photovoltaic power plant at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
According to the agreement announced Tuesday, Skyline will build a 100-kilowatt solar array at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California and another 100-kilowatt system at Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas.
At first glance, the company’s power plants resemble solar thermal parabolic trough installations that deploy long rows of mirrors to heat tubes of liquid suspended over the arrays to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine.