Photo: Public domain
Having Fewer Energy-Hungry Ships and Planes Might Help Too...The U.S. Navy, like the other branches of the U.S. military, is a big consumer of oil. Since a significant fraction of that oil comes from unstable regions and from regimes that can be hostile to America, it makes a lot of sense from a strategic point of view (on top of all the environmental reasons that we already know about) to cut back on oil use. To move in that direction, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has set a series of goals for the Navy's fleet and on-shore installations. Read on for more details.Here are the goals:
The Navy recently announced five energy targets for the Navy and Marine Corps, and biofuels are a major component of four of those five energy targets. The five goals are: including energy efficiency and the energy footprint in purchasing decisions; by 2012, demonstrating a "Green Strike Group" composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuels, with a "Great Green Fleet" sailing by 2016 that includes biofuel-powered hybrid electric power systems and aircraft running on biofuels; phasing in flex-fuel, hybrid, and electric vehicles to cut petroleum use in half by 2015 for its fleet of 50,000 non-tactical commercial vehicles; producing at least half of the energy requirements for shore-based installations from alternative sources by 2020, with 50% of all shore-based installations achieving net zero energy use; and meeting half of the Navy's total energy needs for ships, aircraft, tanks, vehicles, and shore installations from alternative sources by 2020. (source)
This could make a lot of financial sense too, considering that it can cost the Navy up to $400 to deliver a gallon of gasoline to the battlefield.
Cutting petroleum usage
It's easier for the Navy to be an early adopters since they have a lot more purchasing power than the average business or citizen. Of course, the best way to use less fuel is to have fewer warships and warplanes, but in the meantime, it's a good thing that the hardware that is out there will be more efficient and pollute less. I just hope they'll get the biofuels right and won't repeat the mistakes that have been made with corn ethanol (which often isn't much better than regular gasoline, and sometimes worse because of the land use problems.)
The biofuel work will be done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Update: It seems like the USDA announced this a few months ago without waiting for the DoE. Matt wrote about it here.
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