Biofuels & Renewables Green Technology Goes Khaki: US Military Joins the Biofuels Boom

Editor: Dominik Stephan

With skyrocketing crude oil prices, depleting reserves and insecurities in major producer regions, also the US military eyes the biofuels and renewables industry. America's armed forces could well become a major player in this branch, insiders believe...

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Jet engine running on biofuels. The Department of Defense in 2011 bought 450,000 gallons of biofuels for fighter jets and other aircrafts.
Jet engine running on biofuels. The Department of Defense in 2011 bought 450,000 gallons of biofuels for fighter jets and other aircrafts.
(Picture: Wikimedia Commons)

Washinghton, D.C./USA – The U.S. military is becoming a major player in biofuels and renewable energy markets, U.S. Senator Mark Udall, Democrat-Colorado, said Sunday on the all-energy news and talk program Platts Energy Week. Already in 2011 the Department of Defense purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuels, mainly for aircraft fuels, including bio–kerosene for fighter jets. Now the Army, which spends more than one billion dollars per year to power its facilities, is interested in solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy to cut that cost. The US Navy, struggling to half its energy needs by 2020, is becoming increasingly interested in biofuels.

While these alternatives are costly compared with conventional fuels, the effort to invest in the new technology is worth it, Udall, a member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services, Select Intelligence and Energy & Natural Resources Committees, said.

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Green Technology Goes Khaki

"I think The Pentagon should continue to invest in biofuels ... in the long run, it'll be cheaper. The forces we have to deploy overseas to protect oil supply lines can be reduced ... as fossil fuel prices increase – and they will, and we know that as a given -- having a competitor in the essence of biofuels will be important,” Udall said. "Yes, we should be smart about it -- we're not going to convert overnight to these new fuels -- but this is a step forward for national security, for job creation, and there will be environmental benefits."

Bio fuels have the potential to replace over 50 percent of the global demand for gasoline by 2030, a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance states.Read more!

The ever–increasing energy prices have raised the fear that America's forces could one day left high and dry on empty tanks: The Navy in December paid US $ 26 per gallon (/gal) for drop-in biofuels, while jet fuel costs at the time were about US $ 4/gal. The Navy projected that the cost of biofuels in 2020 still would be higher -- a premium of about US $ 5.40/gal, according to one Pentagon report -- than conventional jet fuel.

Biofuels to Become More Competitive

"Those numbers should not be ignored," Udall said, "But if you look at history and look at trends, those numbers are going to go down and we will be well served in the long run by making these investments."

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