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The U.S. Military, Biofuels and Biopower

By Anna Simet | August 30, 2013

This week, we held the November Biomass Magazine content meeting, the theme of which is U.S. Military Biofuels and Biopower Outlook.

I think it’s obvious why this made our themes for 2013. The U.S. Department of Defense—the  Army, Navy and Marine Corps and the Air Force—have some ambitious goals and mandates for renewable energy and biofuels over the next couple of decades.

Here are a few examples:

*Executive Order 13423 of 2007 requires federal agencies to reduce energy intensity by three percent annually or 30 percent by end of fiscal year 2015 (compared to FY 2003 baseline), with the goal of improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Agencies must reduce their vehicle fleets’ total consumption of petroleum by two percent annually through the end of FY15 (FY 2005 baseline).

*Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007: Section 431 requires federal buildings to reduce total energy use by 30 percent by 2015 (FY 2003 baseline).

*National Defense Authorization Act of 2010: Section 2842 requires DOD to produce or procure 25 percent of facility energy use from renewable sources beginning in 2025.

*The Department of Navy must sail the “Great Green Fleet,” demonstrating a Green Strike Group (biofuels and nuclear powered vessels) in local operations by 2012 (which has happened) and sail the Great Green Fleet by 2016.

*The Department of Navy must reduce non‐tactical petroleum use in the commercial fleet by 50 percent by 2015 and produce at least 50 percent of shore‐based energy from alternative sources by 2020; 50 percent of Navy and Marine Corps installations will be net‐zero by 2020.

*By 2020, 50 percent of total energy consumption from the Navy and Marine Corps will come from alternative sources.

 These goals—and this list isn’t exhaustive—are exciting to our industry, but there are still lots of important questions remaining, especially the cost, per gallon of biofuel/jet fuel produced, compared to fossil-based fuel, and how much feedstock will be required.

As one of our editorial board members stated during the meeting, we know there are many brilliant people with great technologies, and many companies are in the race to deliver.  To many, however, the question is no longer “Can we?” Rather, it is “Should we?”

Only time will tell. We have great confidence in the U.S. military, their goals and and the people dedicating their lives to help meet them.

We hope the November issue reflects that.