Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s biggest defense company, is seeking to control as much as 10 percent of the global market for systems that turn garbage into energy.
The company announced its first commercial waste-to-energy plant in November, and the 5-megawatt project in Germany will be fully operational by January 2017, Mo Vargas, Lockheed’s bioenergy business leader, said Friday.
Lockheed is using technology developed by Concord Blue Energy Inc. The companies announced a partnership in 2013 that will take advantage of both the growing need for renewable energy and the ever increasing supply of garbage. Global waste generation may increase to as much as 6 million daily tons by 2025, compared with 3.5 million tons per day in 2010, the World Bank estimated in 2013.
“Our goal is 5 to 10 percent of the market over the next five years,” Vargas said by phone. “That would put us in a great position.”
Energy is a small part of Lockheed’s business. The Bethesda, Maryland-based company’s aeronautics and missile units provided almost half of its sales last year, and it didn’t break out results for bioenergy operations.
The project in Germany is expected to handle about 50,000 tons of waste annually, mostly from forestry. The company also is producing units as small as 250 kilowatts, including one that will be used at a Lockheed site in Owego, New York, that will be able to convert about 3,650 tons of waste a year.
Concord Blue uses a gasification technology that turns municipal waste into electricity and fuel without incinerating it. That’s why Lockheed pursued the partnership, Vargas said.
“With incineration, you get some heat out of it to turn a steam turbine, but the pollution is still tremendous” and cleaning it up can be expensive, Vargas said.
Converting waste into fuel and power, especially for smaller municipalities and islands that rely heavily on diesel for producing electricity, also reduces emissions and helps the environment.
“And just look at the overall availability of municipal solid waste,” he said.