Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal will host a conference call to brief media on the “Great Green Fleet” demonstration that is taking place off the coast of Hawaii beginning today. Secretary Mabus is in Hawaii to observe the Great Green Fleet, a carrier strike group operating on advanced biofuel, participate in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the largest international maritime exercise in the world.
The Great Green Fleet demonstration is an important milestone in the Department of the Navy’s testing and certification program of 50/50 blends of advanced hydrotreated biofuel and aviation gas in aircraft and marine diesel in surface ships. The military’s ability to use fuels other than petroleum reduces the services’ vulnerability to rapid and unforeseen changes in the price of oil that can negatively impact readiness, while also increasing energy security.
The demonstration is a component of a broader Administration effort to reduce reliance on imported petroleum by partnering with the private sector to speed the commercialization of next-generation biofuels. For example, Navy, USDA and DOE recently announced $30 million in funding to support commercialization of “drop-in” biofuel substitutes for diesel and jet fuel through the Defense Production Act Title III (DPA), an authority that dates back to 1950 and has been used to support the industrialization of defense-critical domestic industries such as steel, aluminum, titanium, semiconductors, beryllium, and radiation-hardened electronics. At the same time, the Department of Energy announced an additional $32 million to support research into advanced biofuel technologies that are in earlier stages of development.