How the US Navy is going green
Mother Jones has some good pieces this month on the ways the United States military is helping to push the clean energy revolution forward. Inside the Military's Clean-Energy Revolution gives a first-hand account of the many ways the US Navy is greening its fleet:
You can't live off the land at sea, which is why the Navy has always looked far into the future to fuel its supply lines; the job description of admirals requires them to assess risk and solve intractable problems that stymie the rest of us. Peak oil, foreign oil, greenhouse emissions, climate change? Just another bunch of enemies. So when the Department of Defense set a goal to meet 25 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2025, the Navy found itself fighting on familiar ground. Four times in history it has overhauled old transportation paradigms—from sail to coal to gasoline to diesel to nuclear—carrying commercial shipping with it in the process. "We are a better Navy and a better Marine Corps for innovation," Mabus says. "We have led the world in the adoption of new energy strategies in the past. This is our legacy."
The navy isn't just innovating with types of fuel, they are also beginning to use tools to make the most efficient use of whatever fuel they are using, such as "low-tech add-ons like stern flaps to reduce ships' drag and increase fuel efficiency; high-tech plug-ins like energy dashboards with Prius-type feedback on fuel consumption; energy savers like LED lighting."
There are bigger goals, as well:
Wide-reaching targets include: awarding Navy and Marine Corps equipment contracts based on better fuel efficiency; deploying (not just demonstrating) a Great Green Fleet carrier strike group by 2016; phasing in hybrid fuel and electric vehicles to halve petroleum use in the Navy's 50,000 commercial vehicle fleet by 2015; requiring that by 2020 each base—the Navy owns 2.2 million acres of land plus 65,000 buildings—be at least 50 percent self-powered by renewables like solar, wind, and wave energy; and ensuring that at least 50 percent of the Navy's total energy consumption comes from alternative sources by 2020. These changes will ripple out to the civilian world, too—just as military demand propelled the development that eventually drove down the cost of American steel, radar, GPS, and microchips.
It is a long and interesting piece, so go read it all.
Other pieces on the greening of the military are
14 Weird Ways the US Military Is Becoming a Clean, Green Fighting Machine and How the Military Repelled the GOP's Biofuel Attack.