USDA and Department of the Navy Sign Agreement to Encourage Development of Advanced Biofuels and Renewable Energy Systems
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Navy (DoN) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.
The military alone uses more than 90% of the energy consumed by the Federal Government, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in remarks at the signing of the MoU, and the Federal Government uses about 2% of all the energy consumed in America. “Changing the Navy’s pattern of energy consumption and our sources of power, and working with Agriculture to support renewable energy and biofuel projects around the country, we can and we will have a broad and measurable impact on the national energy landscape.”
We are already taking the first steps. Last fall, we conducted an F/A-18 Hornet jet engine test at Pax River, running on a biofuel blend made from camelina, a plant related to mustard that can be grown throughout the United States. I do have to admit that I was a newcomer to camelina, but the F/A-18 engine didn’t know the difference, even when it was put on full afterburner. Pretty soon, we’ll move beyond these ground tests and conduct flights with our very own Green Hornet. And we are moving to expand the testing of biofuel blends in our Marine Gas Turbines that we use in the surface Navy, and to our tactical vehicles, like the one sitting here today.—Secretary Mabus
From a strategic perspective the objective is to reduce reliance on fossil fuels from volatile areas of the world. Tactically, on the battlefield, the costs of transporting fuel is exponentially increased; in extreme cases a gallon of gasoline could cost up to $400. In addition, Mabus said, fuel convoys often meet a lethal enemy. To address this reality, Mabus announced five energy targets for the Navy and Marine Corps during the 2009 Naval Energy Forum last October (earlier post); biofuels are a major component of four of those goals.
Those targets are:
When awarding contracts, appropriately consider energy efficiency and the energy footprint as additional factors in acquisition decisions.
By 2012, demonstrate a Green Strike Group composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuel.
By 2016 sail the Strike Group as a Great Green Fleet composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants equipped with hybrid electric alternative power systems running on biofuel, and aircraft running on biofuel.
By 2015 cut petroleum use in its 50,000 non-tactical commercial fleet in half, by phasing in hybrid, flex fuel and electric vehicles.
By 2020 produce at least half of shore based installations’ energy requirements from alternative sources. Also 50% of all shore installations will be net zero energy consumers. By 2020 half of DoN’s total energy consumption for ships, aircraft, tanks, vehicles and shore installations will come from alternative sources.
The Department of the Navy recently established a Naval Energy Office to develop and employ proven business models and investment strategies that leverage public and private investment to achieve naval, defense, and national energy goals.
The MOU complements USDA and The Navy and Marine Corps’ existing renewable energy programs and efforts. USDA has a variety of programs and services that support renewable energy development.