Earlier today my traveling companion Pete sent over a Tom Friedman piece that discusses the US Navy and Marines’ adoption of greener fuels. His forward inspired me to dig a little deeper:

Contributing to a broad federal government initiative to use 7.5% renewable energy by 2013, the Department of Defense has plans to increase the total use of renewable energy to 25% from renewable sources by 2025.

The DoD is the single largest energy user in the United States— responsible for nearly 80% of the government’s total use—consuming 1.2% of the total energy required in the country. The vast majority of the approximately 889 trillion BTUs that were consumed by the DoD in 2008 fueled aircraft, vehicles and ships.

Friedman reports that the Secretary of the Navy has set a goal for the Navy to use alternative energy sources to provide 50 percent of the energy for all its war-fighting ships, planes, vehicles and shore installations by 2020.

On April 22, Earth Day, the Navy flew a F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet powered by a 50-50 blend of conventional jet fuel and camelina aviation biofuel made from pressed mustard seeds. It flew at Mach 1.2 and has since been tested on biofuels at Mach 1.7 — without a hiccup…

In October, the Navy launched the U.S.S. Makin Island amphibious assault ship, which is propelled by a hybrid gas turbine/electric motor. On its maiden voyage from Mississippi to San Diego, said Mabus, it saved $2 million in fuel…

In addition, the Navy has tested its RCB-X combat boat on a 50-50 blend of algae and diesel, and it has tested its SH-60 helicopter on a similar biofuel blend.

When it comes to performance, Friedman notes that the Navy and Marines will use only “third generation” biofuels with enough energy density to kick forward operating troops into high gear.

Behind the lines the Army, Navy and Air Force have ordered thousands of battery-powered, electric cars and light trucks to provide on-base transport.

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