Posts tagged “Navy”
The Navy’s Biofuels Program
In 2010 I conducted an interview with Tom Hicks, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Navy (Energy). During the interview, Tom described the Navy’s efforts in pushing for widespread availability of biofuels for Naval operations. He stated that sourcing alternative energy is a top priority for the Navy, and would enhance its war-fighting capabilities. He said the Navy sees itself in a leadership role in driving a transition to “homegrown, secure, independent sources of fuel.”
The goal, as described by Tom, is for biofuels to make a major contribution toward the fuel needs of the Navy by 2020. The Navy has embarked upon an initiative called the “Great Green Fleet” in which they would deploy a strike group on all alternative fuels by 2016. By 2020, the goal is for 50% of all of the Navy’s energy consumption to come from alternative sources. In pursuit of this initiative, the Navy is doing research, and testing and certifying all of their engines on renewable fuels. CONTINUE»
Last Wednesday, the Green Strike Group sailed during the international Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises off the coast of Hawaii. These exercises are the Navy’s largest of the year, and feature participants from around the world. The reason, however, that this is important to clean energy investors is that the Navy could act as a market maker for the struggling biofuels industry. If the Navy guarantees its market over the next decade, there will be certainty for biofuels companies to make the investments necessary to reach commercial scale.
The recent debate over the role of the military in investing in renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency and conservation programs and alternative biofuels has included many voices that sometimes conflate the linked but distinct efforts by defense officials to address energy concerns. The rationale behind the military’s energy programs can be broken down into two efforts:
- Adapting to operational energy requirements and security challenges in Afghanistan and other combat theatres;
- Hedging against future uncertainty in the global petroleum market.
Adapting to Operational Energy Challenges
Military leaders have become increasingly worried about operational energy challenges in Afghanistan and other theatres where U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen are deployed and are working to reduce the demand for energy that must be transported across volatile terrain.
To date, part of the military’s effort to reduce operational energy requirements includes:
- prioritizing energy efficiency in the acquisitions process for new combat platforms;
- fielding micro-grid technology to more efficiently manage traditional power distribution systems that waste energy;
- replacing — where possible — diesel-fuelled generators with solar panels and other renewable energy sources;
- equipping soldiers with advanced batteries that stay charged longer to help keep them in the fight;
- and increasing awareness among all U.S. military personnel about energy use to help promote conservation practices.
There are clear operational advantages to reducing the fuel required by military personnel in theater. In particular, reducing fuel consumption also curbs the demand for petroleum that has to be trucked across dangerous territory where the fuel and the soldiers and contractors transporting it are vulnerable to insurgent attack.
The just-issued RAND report Alternative Fuels for Military Applications has generated quite a bit of controversy. However, in my opinion many of the news stories covering the report got the gist of the message wrong. In essence, what has been reported is “RAND Says Biofuels are Bunk.” In fact, many in the renewable energy industry have responded as if they are under attack. Biofuels Digest published comments from several in the renewable fuels industry. Some excerpts from those comments: Will Thurmond, CEO, Emerging Markets Online Is it simply a coincidence that RAND’s study on alternative fuels for the military, the “Clean Coal” Coalition’s advertising campaign, and the State of the Union address were released on the same day? In contrast… Continue»
In my recent interview with Tom Hicks, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Navy (Energy), he explained some of the Navy’s energy initiatives. One of those is to sail the “Great Green Fleet.” The goal is that in 2012 they will put a carrier strike group in local operations entirely on alternative fuels and then in 2016 they plan to deploy that strike group on all alternative fuels. By 2020, the goal is that 50% of all of the Navy’s energy consumption will come from alternative sources. The reasons for these goals are obvious. The U.S. Department of Defense consumes more oil than any other organization in the world, and most of that oil comes from other countries…. Continue»
Here are my choices for the Top 10 energy related stories of 2010. I can’t remember having such a difficult time squeezing this list down to 10 stories, because there were many important energy stories for 2010. It was hard to cut some of them from the Top 10; so hard that I almost did a Top 15. But I made some difficult choices, and offer my views on the 10 most important energy stories of 2010. Previously I listed a link to Platt’s survey of the Top 10 oil stories of 2010, but my list covers more than just oil. Reviewing my list of Top 10 Energy Related Stories of 2009, I see that I made three predictions. Those… Continue»
This is the concluding installment of my recent interview with Tom Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Navy (Energy). Part I discussed the overall goals of the Navy’s biofuel efforts, and in Part II we covered why coal-to-liquids (CTL) is presently off-limits, and why GTL may be as well. Part III picks up with the human cost of moving fuel into the theater of operations. The editor of Consumer Energy Report, Sam Avro, joined me in this interview and our questions below will be denoted as “RR” or “SA”. Mr. Hicks’ responses are “TH”. RR: I saw a recent story that once fuel actually makes it to the theater of operations, it can cost $400 per gallon when all the… Continue»
In Part I of my recent interview with Tom Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Navy (Energy), we covered the nature of what the Navy is trying to achieve (and why) with respect to incorporating renewable energy into their operations. Part II begins with a discussion of why coal-to-liquids (CTL) is presently off-limits, and why GTL may be as well. Incidentally, I mention Shell’s Bintulu GTL facility in Malaysia below. I have just spent my entire morning inside their facility, and will have a report up on that visit next week. The editor of Consumer Energy Report, Sam Avro, joined me in this interview and our questions below will be denoted as “RR” or “SA”. Mr. Hicks’ responses are “TH”…. Continue»