The Navy Goes Green

The US Navy consumes 3.5 million gallons of fossil fuel everyday. This jaw-dropping number is part of the 14 million gallons of fuel the US Defense Department consumes daily. Like corporate supply chains, the US Navy relies on an extensive global network of cargo plans, trucks, container ships and more, to supply its operations with everything from bombs to humanitarian aid. If the US armed forces were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. In 2017, the US military bought 269,3230 barrels of oil a day, emitting more than 25,000 kilotons of carbon dioxide due to this oil alone - the US Navy consuming $2.8 billion worth of this fuel. Moreover, between 2010 and 2018, the US armed forces emitted 593 million metric tonnes of CO2 - an average annual output equivalent to approximately 14 million passenger cars.


The US Navy has recognized this issue and decided to take action against climate change in a five step plan. This US Navy plan is called the “Strategy for Renewable Energy”, with five steps: increase the use of renewable energy ashore; increase renewable energy usage offshore; reduce non-tactical petroleum use; establish the “Great Green Fleet”; as well as building renewable energy infrastructure.


The US Navy increased the use of alternative energy ashore and offshore. Today, 50% of the US Navy’s energy consumption comes from alternative, clean sources. The US Navy developed a task force called the One Gigawatt Task Force which developed a plan of using Solar (photovoltaic, thermal, and concentrated), wind, geothermal (direct use, electrical generation, or heat pumps), biogenic or waste (biomass, biofuels, waste-to-energy, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, etc.), and marine (wave, tidal, ocean thermal, seawater air conditioning) energy. In this plan, solar energy is installed on military building rooftops but cautiously placed to prevent mirrors’ glare against aviation. Moreover, wind energy is installed in military bases, away from training and radar installations. Geothermal energy completely powers military bases and is used where heat sources exist. The heat sources are used to create steam which spins a turbine generating enough power to completely power military bases. The biogenic and waste energy used prevents the waste of resources by using captured landfill gas, municipal solid waste, leftover plant material, and animal waste. Another form of energy, still in development, is Marine energy; it is planned to harness the energy from waves, tides, and ocean warmth, as well as using seawater as air conditioning. All these renewable energies power the US Navy at sea, air, and land.


Additionally, the US Navy plans on reducing the use of non-tactical petroleum. This term refers to petroleum (fuel) used in non-tactical (non-combative) service vehicles. Today, bill H.R.6932 sits in the House of Representatives calling for the reduction of using non-tactical petroleum. The bill plans on replacing all the US Navy non-tactical service vehicles with zero-emission non-tactical service vehicles. This will greatly reduce use of non-tactical petroleum and carbon emissions of the US Navy.


Furthermore, in 2009, one hundred years after the return of the “Great White Fleet”, the US Navy established the “Great Green Fleet” - an energy cost saving measure aimed at reducing the Navy’s use of conventional diesel fuel into a biofuels and diesel 50/50 mixture (the fleet eventually transitioned into several other alternative energy forms, including nuclear).

Beginning in 2012, the US Navy tested cleaner energy in a fleet consisting of:the fuel tanker USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AP-187); the two destroyers USS Chung Hoon and USS Chafes (DDG 90); the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68); and the cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59). USS Nimitz (CVN 68) was nuclear powered and the rest of the ships ran on a 50:50 mix of petroleum and biofuel derived from algae and cooking oil.


In 2016, the US Navy tested cleaner energy again in a fleet consisting of:the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53); the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74); the guided-missile destroyers USS William P. Lawerence (DDG 110); and USS Chung Hoon (DDG 93). The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is nuclear powered, the USS Stockdale (DDG 106) is the first US Navy ship to run completely on biofuel; and the rest of the fleet runs on a 50:50 mix of petroleum and biofuel derived from feedstock of beef tallow. The feedstock of beef tallow (rendered fat) biofuel offers a competitive price of $2.05 per gallon against traditional fuel’s price of $2.12. Both fleets are the beginning of the US Navy servicing zero-emission fleets.


The US Navy has built renewable energy infrastructure. In September 2011, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany started using a $20 million landfill gas power generation plant. The (1.9 MW) plant uses methane and other landfill gases from a local landfill which reduces the MCLB’s (Marine Corp Logistics Base Albany’s) greenhouse gas emissions. The plant saves DON $1.8 million annually and protects MCLB from electrical grid failures or blackouts by using landfill gas and natural gas. 22% of MCLB’s (Marine Corp Logistics Base Albany’s) energy comes from this plant. Another example is the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which in 2012 began using a 3.2 MW Landfill Gas power plant. 50% of Miramar’s daily power consumption is powered by this plant.


The US Navy is also expanding its use of solar energy. In 2012, the US Navy made a deal in building three solar panel installations through the Southwest Solar Energy Contract. This contract made the US Navy not pay maintenance or upfront costs for the solar panel systems in exchange for US Navy land and the US Navy buying power produced by the solar panels. The three solar panel installations are a 13.8 MW solar photovoltaic array (which is essentially a “solar power system”) at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, a 1.2 MW PV solar array at Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, and a 1.2 MW PV Solar array at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms. All of these solar panel installations immensely reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the Us Navy. Further solar panel installations are planned to be built, in order to continue reducing the US Navy’s greenhouse gas emissions.


The US Navy’s “Strategy for Renewable Energy” began the transition to a green US Armed Forces. All other US military branches have begun transitioning to using renewable energy which will beneficially impact the United States of America and the rest of the world. Overtime, the US Armed Forces will no longer pose a threat to our planet. The United States Government must follow in the steps of the US Armed Forces in adopting a renewable energy plan to protect the prosperity of all Americans and the rest of the world, such as the Green New Deal. The US Navy has a duty to defend the Earth from the environmental crises, just as it does against foreign threats. Renewable energy plans protect the environment from these greenhouse emissions and promote a green future for the world. The US Navy has joined, and will continue to act, in the global fight against climate change, in order to protect future generations from the impending impacts of climate change.


Sources

- https://www.secnav.navy.mil/eie/documents/donstrategyforrenewableenergy.pdf

- https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6932?r=90&s=1

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Green_Fleet#Strike_group_composition

-https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/visuals/photography/sdut-uss-stockdale-powered-biofuel-g-2016jan20-photogallery.html

-http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/12820/us-navy-launches-great-green-fleet-with-2016-kick off-event

- https://gasprices.aaa.com/state-gas-price-averages/

- https://www.eesi.org/files/dod_eere_factsheet_072711.pdf

- https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/14755661

- https://science.sciencemag.org/content/367/6481/989.2

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