Project Focus: U.S. Navy to award $200M in contracts to build 40MW of solar PV power plants

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The U.S. Navy’s Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) has awarded a $200 million contract to build up as much as 40MW of solar photovoltaic power plants at Navy and Marine Corps installations throughout the southwestern United States.

Five solar development teams were awarded indefinite-quantity contracts to provide power to the Department of the Navy through construction of PV power plants on military land, according to the service. The developers will build, own, operate, and maintain the systems, and sell the power to the Navy and Marine Corps through power purchase agreements.

“The great thing about a PPA contract is that the government buys power from a solar generation system that is financed, owned, and operated by the developer,” said Nate Butler, NAVFAC Southwest Renewable Program Office team leader. “The Navy and Marine Corps get green power with no initial capital investment.”

Five companies will compete for individual projects ranging in size from 1MW to 15MW. Power generated by the solar plants will be used by the base where they are located. The Navy says it has up to five years to award projects under this contract, and each project will provide as much as 30 years of power delivery.

“The award of this multiple award contract is the first step,” said Butler. “These contractors will now have the opportunity to compete for future projects at various bases.”

The quintet of companies that won contract awards are some of the best-established solar developer/integrators in the U.S.: SunEdison, AECOM Energy/Solar Power Partners, SunPower, SunDurance Energy, and the Chevron Energy Solutions division of Chevron.

The first three projects under this contract will be located in California. These projects should be awarded later this spring and to be fully operational within a year, according to the Navy.

The U.S. armed services have been one of the most aggressive federal branches pursuing the deployment of solar and other renewable energies.

In October, the Secretary of the Navy established a goal to produce at least 50% of the Navy’s shore-based energy requirements from RE sources by 2020.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force–which has a 14MW PV plant operating at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada–signed a deal with Fotowatio Renewable Ventures to explore the development of a solar farm up to 500MW in installed capacity in the desert near Edwards AFB east of Los Angeles.

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