1. US Navy “Green Fleet” fills up with Italian-made biofuel

US Navy “Green Fleet” fills up with Italian-made biofuel

A U.S. warship took its first delivery of Italian-made biofuel on Thursday as part of the Navy's programme to use more alternative energy.

By: | Published: June 17, 2016 2:05 PM
US navy The USS Mason was refuelled alongside an Italian vessel, the Andrea Doria, in the seas off of Italy’s southern coast with a mix produced by Italy’s Eni that has 5.5 percent palm oil biofuel blended into marine fuel.(Reuters)

A U.S. warship took its first delivery of Italian-made biofuel on Thursday as part of the Navy’s programme to use more alternative energy.

The USS Mason was refuelled alongside an Italian vessel, the Andrea Doria, in the seas off of Italy’s southern coast with a mix produced by Italy’s Eni that has 5.5 percent palm oil biofuel blended into marine fuel.

The two destroyers travelled at about 5 knots side by side with a supply ship, the Etna, between them pumping the fuel to both ships through large black tubes.

“It’s a first today,” U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told Reuters aboard the Mason. “But it’s the new normal. It’s what you’re going to see – refuelling after refuelling after refuelling.”

Mabus has championed the “Great Green Fleet” initiative since 2009, saying it will give a strategic advantage to the United States by reducing dependence on fluctuating oil prices and producers who may not have America’s best interest in mind.

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“Fuel can be used as a weapon,” Mabus said. “All you have to do is look at what Russia did to Crimea, what Russia did to the Ukraine. Look at what Russia tried to do to Europe before the price of oil went down.”

The cost of the fuel was $2.20 per gallon, which Mabus said was “very competitive” for Europe.

Many environmentalists say palm oil production damages the environment as it is often grown in plantations where rainforest has been cleared. Biofuels can also be made from other biomass or from by-products such as waste cooking oils.

The U.S. Navy now has 30 percent of its fleet, the world’s biggest, running on alternative energy – which includes nuclear power – and aims to increase that to 50 percent by 2020, Mabus said.

Italy aims to have 50 percent of its fleet using alternative energy by 2020, Italy’s Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, also aboard the USS Mason, told Reuters. About 10 percent of vessels are already running on alternative energy and Italy’s submarines should start using biofuel this year, he said.

Italy had eight vessels present during the refuelling, including a submarine, and several ships from the U.S. Sixth Fleet were also there, including the nuclear-powered USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier.

  1. C
    Cliff Claven
    Jun 20, 2016 at 8:21 pm
    Now the U.S. Navy has fully regressed from a 50/50 biofuel blend in 2012 to a 10% blend earlier this year to a 5.5% blend now from Eni in Italy. A 5% blend should not even be called biofuel.The U.S. Navy paid $2.26/gal for this fuel. That is a premium of 66 cent/gal over the current price for marine diesel fuel in Genoa at $1.60/gal ($500/tonne). That premium only purchased 5.5% of a gallon of biofuel. The math for each blended gallon works out to be $1.51 for the 94.5% that is fossil fuel and $0.75 for the 5.5% that is biofuel. That means the biofuel portion cost $13.64/gal -- a very expensive additive. The failure of the biofuel price to become compeive even after more than a decade of mandates and subsidies is why the blending fractions are falling instead of rising. This is an inescapable consequence of the low EROI of biofuel and its critical dependence upon fossil fuels for cultivation and harvesting and processing of the feedstoock.The Navy has also regressed in its chosen feedstock, from advanced algae in 2012, to beef fat earlier this year, now to palm oil, a first-generation biofuel. Palm oil biodiesel is recognized by the bulk of Europe and by informed environmentalists everywhere as the absolute worst biofuel, as it triples GHG emissions over fossil fuels (“Biodiesel’s Impact: Emissions of an Extra 12m Cars on Our Roads, Latest Figures Show.” Transport & Environment, April 25, 2016. s-impact-emissions-extra-12m-cars-our-roads-latest-figures-show ). This is because of mive land use change impacts and environmental damage including peat land draining and deforestation and destruction of natural biomes and displacement of food crops.This Italian blendstock is even worse for polluting and greenhouse gas emissions than regular palm biodiesel because, to be compatible with U.S. Navy engines, the fatty acids and methylated esters present in biodiesel must be upgraded to "drop-in" quality pure hydrocarbons via a complex, expensive, and dirty hydrotreatment process that consumes mive amounts of natural gas and emits even greater amounts of CO2. In the final analysis, it is likely ten times worse than fossil fuel in lifecycle GHG emissions.The U.S. Navy biofuels obsession is hurting the climate, food security, biodiversity, and international stability. It is also fleecing the taxpayers by paying ludicrous prices for meaningless quanies of product. The U.S. Navy and EPA and federal government need to stop denying the proven net harm to the climate and environment being done by biofuels, and to stop pretending, against all evidence, that they are clean and green and renewable.
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