Navy's Great Green Fleet

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The U.S. Navy's participation in a 22-nation exercise this summer will include a two-day demonstration of the "Great Green Fleet" carrier strike group, operating in part on alternative non-fossil fuels. The demonstration group will operate aircraft and non-carrier ships on 50/50 blends of biofuel and conventional fuels. The Navy has set a goal of 2020 to meet half of its energy needs with non-fossil fuels. The Great Green Fleet's two-day demonstration during the Rim of Pacific exercise is meant to precipitate a larger months-long deployment of a similarly fueled group set to deploy in 2016. Increases in fuel costs have pushed Defense Department spending $3 billion over budget in 2012 due to rising fuel costs.

The Great Green Fleet includes a nuclear-powered carrier and submarines. The Navy hopes use of non-fossil fuels will create more supply-side stability for its energy requirements -- both in cost and availability. The Defense Logistics Agency already has commitments for 450,000 gallons of biofuel purchased on behalf of the Navy. The directive comes from the top. According to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the president offered the challenged in March 2011 "to work with the private sector to cultivate a competitively-priced -- and domestically produced -- drop-in biofuel industry that can power not just fighter jets, but also trucks and commercial airliners."