U.S. Navy On Course With Renewable Energy Timeline

Thursday October 18, 2012

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said Wednesday that the Navy is on course to reach its goal of getting half its energy from non-petroleum sources by 2020.

"We have initiated, we have advanced and we have achieved many of the objectives we set," Mabus said at the National Defense Industrial Association's annual Naval Energy Forum.

"We are not there yet, but we are far further along."

Bio-diesel is significantly more expensive than petroleum-based fuel, but the cost is dropping, and Mabus said the Navy's use of the alternative fuel can help build a mass market.

"If there is an industry that the military needs that isn't available … we can help spur it along," Mabus said, citing the steel and nuclear industries as previous examples.

The Navy first set the goal for reduction of petroleum dependence in 2009, and Mabus said it has made good progress.

This week, it is officially launching two solar arrays in California that will each save $13 to $20 million over 20 years, and it is also planning to generate 56 megawatts a year with solar arrays in Hawaii.

The petroleum industry has attacked the Navy's focus on biofuels as a "gimmick," but Mabus said focusing on renewable energy is a key part of working for national security.

"Every change we've made has made the Navy and the Marine Corps stronger and better able to keep sea lanes open and the global commons safe," he said.

"We not only have the opportunity, we have an obligation to create a new energy future.

"There is absolutely clear and overwhelmingly compelling evidence that these efforts are vital to our national security."

During the June 29, 2012 to August 3, 2012 Rim of the Pacific international military exercises (RIMPAC 2012) in Hawaii earlier this year, with the exception of its nuclear powered flagship USS Nimitz, every aircraft and ship in the Carrier Strike Group burned only a 50/50 mix of bio-diesel and traditional fuel.