Thursday, July 13, 2006

US Navy Energy Policy

The Navy and Marine Corps technical centers of expertise are the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

On 9 June 2003, Navy had introduced a Sustainable Development Policy. Air Force defines Sustainability in the same manner as the Navy, but limits itself to “Green buildings.” This might have a success. In fiscal year 2005, the U.S. Air Force, for example, accounted for over 40% of the renewable power purchased by the federal government. No wander, USAF now claims turning Air force blue to green.

According to the Department of Navy’s Energy Website the Navy's Energy Program goals are to reduce the cost of utilities and the amount of energy consumed.

The strategy to reduce the dependence on oil for its ships include increasing fuel efficiency in system design; shifting to alternative hydrocarbon fuels (including biodiesel and liquid hydrocarbons fuels made from coal using the Fisher-Tropsch process); shifting to a greater reliance on nuclear propulsion; and making use of sail and solar power. All these issues are discussed at a meeting hosted at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory on “Energy Options for the Future” (11-12 March 2004). A summary report of the conference is available. A much deeper and comprehensive analysis is, however, conducted in a CRS Report (explained later).

The Department of the Navy in recent years has taken steps to increase its use of alternative hydrocarbon fuels, particularly biodiesel at installations and in non-tactical ground vehicles.

On January 18, 2005, Department of Navy issued a memorandum requiring all Navy and Marine Corps non-tactical diesel vehicles to operate on B20 fuel by June 1, 2005. The requirement does not apply to tactical military equipment or deployable commercial equipment intended to support contingency operations.

The 2005 NRAC study was tasked[1] to “Identify, review, and assess technologies for reducing fuel consumption and for militarily useful alternative fuels, with a focus on tactical ground mobility.... Two main focus areas to be considered in this effort are alternative fuels, and improving fuel efficiency (including alternative engine technologies).”

The study recommended[2] making a long-term commitment to manufactured liquid hydrocarbon fuels made from domestically abundant feedstocks. The briefing referenced “Hubbert’s Peak,” and included a discussion of the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process for converting coal into manufactured liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

The study concluded that liquid hydrocarbon fuel production using domestic energy sources is feasible; DoD action needed to catalyze development & ensure US military takes advantage of manufactured fuels; there is a need to ensure military platforms can use manufactured fuels; but commercial financing and infrastructure development will drive this process.

In April 2006, a CRS Report for Congress on “Navy Ship Propulsion Technologies: Options for Reducing Oil Use” by Ronald O’Rourke[3] provides information on options for technologies that could reduce the Navy’s dependence on oil for its ships. In the report he discusses four general strategies for reducing the Navy’s dependence on oil for its ships: reducing energy use on Navy ships; alternative hydrocarbon fuels; nuclear propulsion; and sail and solar power. The report is based on his testimony at the House Armed Services Committee on 6 April 2006.

On the same day (6 April 2006), Wayne Arny, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Navy (installation and facilities) was testifying before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Even though Arny’s testimony was focusing on the use of renewables in installation electricity it contained elements for non-facility purposes. He pointed out that the Department of the Navy produced the equivalent of 10.6% of its installation electricity needs from renewable sources. Moreover the Department “used more that 2 million gallons of alternative and biobased fuels in 2005, using ethanol at 8 fleet locations. Marine Corps installations are now using biodiesel at over 85% of primary fleet locations. In 2005, we replaced 2,600 conventional vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids.”

Concerning ships, a presentation by Office of Naval Research in April 2006 argued that fuel efficiency has not been given a high priority in future system design, even though a portion of the Navy’s Development, Test and Evaluation program (Categories 6.4 and 6.5), which began in the late 1970s, is specifically dedicated to improving the fuel efficiency of ships, primarily legacy ships. The presentation demonstrates why Navy is going electric. It gives four reasons: enables transformational weapons systems (electromagnetic guns, shipboard laser systems, advanced Sensors, survivability and reconfiguration flexibility); reduces signatures (eliminates propulsion gear noise, lower speed propellers and silent watch capabilities); and reduces life cycle costs.

That is why, now there is a considerable work on using electricity in navy ships and submarines.

[1] Terms of Reference, Future Fuels, NRAC Summer Study 2005.
[2] “Future Fuels”, presentation to Flag Officers & Senior Executive Service, 4 October 2005,
The Pentagon Auditorium.
[3] Ronal O’Rourke, Navy Ship Propulsion Technologies: Options for Reducing Oil Use — Background for Congress, Congressional Research Service RL33360, 12 April 2006.

See you where parallels intersect


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