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The Path to Transforming Energy Use by the US Navy

Tom Hicks
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy)

As a Navy and a nation, we depend too much on volatile and uncertain foreign energy sources. Realizing this, the Secretary of the Navy has set aggressive energy goals. Meeting these will require substantial investments in alternative fuels, alternative and renewable energy, and energy efficiency, but it will ensure that the Department of the Navy (DON) maintains the energy security and independence required to fight and win on future battlefield. These goals are as follows:

Increase Alternative Energy Ashore: By 2020, the DON will produce at least half of its shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources, and half of the DON’s installations will be net-zero. Over the past year, the Navy has nearly tripled its solar energy production, and this year it is looking to double production again, working toward a goal of 100 megawatts by the end of 2012. Our large-scale projects over the past year include a 2.8-megawatt solar array at Camp Pendleton, a 1.9-megawatt landfill-gas-to-energy plant at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, and a contracted 3.2 megawatts of landfill gas at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. At Naval Air War Station China Lake, the Navy has a 270-megawatt geothermal plant that provides power to Southern California. The Navy and Marine Corps are installing more than 27,000 “smart” meters to better manage, track and benchmark our energy usage. We have been investigating potential uses of offshore wind, ocean thermal energy conversion, undersea turbines and other technologies that harness and store the massive energy available in the marine environment.

Increase Alternative Energy Across the DON: By 2020, half of the DON’s energy consumption will come from alternative sources. Energy efficiency, alternative energy generation and biofuels will be needed in large amounts to meet this goal. From 2020 on, the Navy will need 8 million barrels of biofuels. The DON is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy and will be seeking industry partners to help spur the advanced biofuels trade space to commercial maturity. To facilitate the transition to biofuels, the Navy has also begun to certify ships and aircraft on 50-50 biofuel and conventional fuel blends.

Sail the Great Green Fleet: The DON will demonstrate a Green Strike Group in local operations by 2012 and deploy it by 2016. This group will be powered on 50-50 blends of advanced, domestically produced, drop-in biofuels as well as conventional JP-5 fuel for aircraft and F-76 fuel for ships. Last month, on behalf of the Navy’s 2012 Great Green Fleet demonstration, Defense Logistics Agency Energy put out a procurement for 450,000 gallons of advanced biofuels, which we believe is the single largest purchase of advanced biofuels in the country.

Reduce Nontactical Petroleum Use: By 2015, the DON will reduce petroleum use in its commercial vehicle fleet by 50 percent. Having tested and utilized many different alternative-fueled vehicles, we will accomplish this goal by tapping the most promising types as we replace vehicles with new purchases and leases.

Energy-Efficient Acquisition: As part of its energy strategy, the DON will take substantive measures to include energy performance in the acquisition of platforms and weapon systems. All acquisition programs involving energy-consuming end items will ensure that energy criteria are used in making decisions.

The Navy is dedicated to achieving these energy goals, but it will also need the help of industry. We’ve seen companies make technological developments across a broad range of technologies, and this represents the type of innovation and spirit the Navy needs to meet the energy needs of the future.

Creative partnerships with the commercial market have already brought photovoltaics, solar water heating, wind power and other forms of renewable energy and energy-saving technology into use on DON installations. If industry can profit and grow while the DON saves life-cycle energy costs and increases its energy security and independence, everyone wins.

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