Are we improving our national security by demanding that the Department of Defense use biofuels?
Are we experimenting with our ability to fight a war by requiring that by the year 2020, 50 percent of our Navy’s shore based energy requirement be supported by alternative sources other than fossil fuels?
According to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, the answer is a big yes and no! The DoD Bloggers Roundtable met with SECNAV yesterday to discuss his energy goals and how they interfaced with joint initiatives with the Department of Energy and Department of Energy. The interagency effort includes spending $510 Million over the next three years to jump start the American industry effort to produce biofuels that are financially competitive, are drop in fuel (no change to equipment is required, do not reduce food supplies and lower the carbon footprint for military units. A White House initiative to give the industry a push, create jobs in agricultural areas and reduce the dependence on foreign oil the Navy will bring about $170 Million for the program over the next 3 years.
Mabus said, it will “make us better warfighters” and that the proposal for the Great Green Fleet is moving ahead with a demonstration in 2012 and will go active in 2016. Not without controversy from some such as a RAND study claiming there would be no benefit seen, the Great Green Fleet has been “received enthusiastically” by Navy operators according to the Secretary. Of course, which Naval officer would voice concerns about a White House program endorsed the Secretary? However, his advocacy for an energy independent Navy is clearly strategic and tactically minded!
He said the use of alternative fuels reduces our transportation needs during combat operations in Afghanistan now and our future operations as well! Relying less on gasoline and diesel that must be convoyed into locations in the combat zone reduces the risk for our service members. He said that for every 50 convoys conducted by the Navy/Marine team, one Marine is killed. By using solar and other resources the number of petroleum convoys is reduced, saving combat losses – a Marine with a family!
I asked about Navy net-zero efforts impact on military families and he mentioned the use of Smart Meters on base housing to identify energy use and the use of solar power to help with the electrical grid. He also said the Navy is purchasing electrical and hybrid vehicles which will emphasize the Navy’s net-zero energy efforts to the community and open the door for more electrical outlets on bases for vehicles. I did a bit of research and found a press release from Pearl Harbor NAVFAC that said that a Navy housing project in Hawaii included:
‘The energy efficient improvements to the quarters include insulated vinyl siding and energy filtering window film, a high efficient air conditioning system and solar water heating system, Energy Star certified appliances, solar reflection tubes for daytime interior lighting, a radiant energy barrier on the underside of the roof, and an advanced interior lighting control system.
In addition to the renovations, two car detached garages, energy efficient air conditioning, solar water systems, thermal insulation improvements and photovoltaic panels were added to each Heleloa home.’
NEWS RELEASE FROM THE NAVFAC PACIFIC PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE Dec 15th 2010.
The “strategic notion” of the Navy programs is to reduce our foreign oil dependence, a critical step as we continue to address national security issues. Thank you Mr. Secretary for taking the time to address these programs and issues with the Bloggers Roundtable! You can listen to an audio or read a printed transcript of this very interesting and informative roundtable by going to DoDLive. To read more Roundtable Blogs from Col K go to MilitaryAvenue’s Our Letters to You.