Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy, said alternative fuels protect the military from oil price shocks
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps must continue to invest in alternative energy for environmental, financial and national security reasons, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee last week.
"In this fiscally constrained environment we must use energy more efficiently and effectively," Mabus said.
"This fiscal environment also means that the Department must continue to lead on and invest in alternative energy. Failure to do so will leave a critical military vulnerability unaddressed and will expose the Department to price shocks inherent in a global commodity like oil."
Mabus said that every $1 rise in the cost of a barrel of oil costs the Navy $30 million in extra fuel costs, and that money is paid mainly out of operational funds, reducing the funding available for operations and training.
Ray Mabus, Secretary, U.S. Navy
We must use energy more efficiently and effectively
He said the Navy is moving forward with energy goals it established in 2009 with initiatives including a new amphibious assault ship, USS Makin Island, which uses a hybrid electric power plant instead of a standard steam plant.
"The ship returned from its maiden deployment last year and, between the highly efficient systems and the energy awareness of the crew, saved the Navy $15 million in fuel costs out of a budgeted $33 million over the seven-month deployment," he said.
Mabus said the Navy is continuing to develop drop-in, advanced biofuel for ships, aircraft, and shore facilities, and it plans to finalise negotiations with companies to produce alternative fuels that are cost-competitive with petroleum soon.
"Drop-in fuels are necessary so that no changes to our engines, aircraft, ships, or facilities are needed to burn the fuel and so we retain operational flexibility to use whatever fuel is available," he said.
The Navy, which has set an "aggressive goal" of getting half its energy from non-petroleum sources by 2020, plans to deploy ships and aircraft globally using competitively priced biofuels by 2016.