Secretary of the Navy Sets Target for 50% of Total Energy Consumption from Alternative Sources by 2020; Role for Biofuels and EVs
In a speech at the Naval Energy Forum, US Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus set out five energy targets for the department to meet over the course of the next decade, including the overall goal of half of the total energy consumption for ships, aircraft, tanks, vehicles, and shore installations coming from alternative sources by 2020.
Another of the five goals is for the Department of the Navy to reduce petroleum use in its 50,000 strong commercial fleet by half by 2015. It will do that, Secretary Mabus said, by replacing the current fleet, as they go out of service, with a new composite fleet of flex fuel vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and neighborhood electric vehicles.
Moving to biofuels and electric vehicles will benefit the local communities where our bases are located and will spur adoption of similar vehicles in those neighborhoods.
—Navy Sec. Mabus
As to the larger goal, currently about 17% of the Navy and Marine Corps energy consumption comes from alternative sources. Secretary Mabus said that he had been advised that 40% was a more realistic goal, and that even that was difficult because of cost and logistics, but that “our Navy and Marine Corps has never backed away from a challenge.”
...fossil fuel consumption has a deep impact upon our forces and our force structure, both in terms of the resources required to get fuel and to move it to the ships, tanks, aircraft, and equipment that need it, and in the Sailors and Marines whose duty it is to protect the ships or convoys moving the gas. We do not have operational independence and we are tied to a vulnerable logistics tail.
The Commandant of the Marine Crops, General Conway said it best during the Marine Corps energy summit a few weeks ago when he described the fully burdened cost of a gallon of gasoline delivered to a piece of equipment in Afghanistan. It turns out that when you factor in the cost of transportation to a coastal facility in Pakistan—or airlifting it to Kandahar—and then you add the cost of putting it in a truck, guarding it, delivering it to the battlefield, and then transferring that one gallon into a piece of equipment that needs it—in extreme cases that gallon of gasoline could cost up to $400.
In the drive for energy reform—and this is critical—in the drive for energy reform the goal has got to be increased warfighting capability.
The other three goals set out by Secretary Mabus are:
The Navy and Marine Corps will change the way they award contracts. The lifetime energy cost of a building or a system, and the fully burdened cost of fuel in powering those, will be a mandatory evaluation factor used when awarding contracts. They will hold industry contractually accountable for meeting energy targets and system efficiency requirements. They will also use the overall energy efficiency and the energy footprint of a competing company as an additional factor in acquisition decisions.
The Navy will demonstrate in local operations by 2012 a Green Strike Group composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuel. By 2016, it will sail that Strike Group as a Great Green Fleet composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants equipped with hybrid electric alternative power systems running biofuel, and aircraft flying only biofuels—and will deploy it.
The Department of the Navy will by 2020 produce at least half of its shore-based energy requirements on its installations from alternative sources. It will boost its usage of renewable energy and in some cases will supply power to the grid from solar, wind, ocean, or geothermal sources generated by the base. The Navy is already doing this at China Lake, where on-base systems generate 20 times the load of the base.
In his speech, Mabus noted that Navy F/A-18s will fly on renewable jet fuel within 3 years.
...although the cost of the fuel used in that engine is high right now—it is still cheaper than putting gas into a generator on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
At the same time, he said, improvements to F/A-18 engines that will be in service by 2015 will improve the efficiency of each aircraft by 3%.
These improvements not only allow those aircraft to fly longer, faster, or farther on the same tank of fuel, but could save us 127,000 barrels of fuel per plane per year, amounting to $15 million per plane per year at today’s fuel prices. That means for every 7 planes we put these new engines on, we’ll be able to buy an additional F/A-18 E/F with the savings. If you believe the cost of fuel will go higher, as almost everyone does, the savings will only increase.
The 2009 Naval Energy Forum was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research.