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Biofuels Powering the Navy’s Great Green Fleet  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Ahead of today’s deployment of the Navy’s Great Green Fleet, ABFA President Michael McAdams talked with the San Diego Union Tribune to discuss the Navy’s contribution to the advanced biofuels industry. The following are excepts from the article published January 17th, to read the full article visit: http://bit.ly/1ZMuJ4Z

…In 2009, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that the Navy and Marine Corps would get half of their power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020, and that the Navy would deploy an entire carrier strike group using biofuels by 2016.

Since then, every type of aircraft in the service’s hangars and every class of ship in the Naval Vessel Register has flown or gone to sea with biofuels made out of beef fat, municipal waste, palm oil, algae or camelina, a plant in the mustard family.

The Navy began purchasing biofuels in bulk for ships and jets in 2014, and it expects to get 170 million gallons this year through a partnership with several companies.…

The Navy’s spending has made an impact on the industry because the service is the biggest customer in the market, said Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, a trade group. Biofuels generally cost less than $10 per gallon, while some sellers price it between $5 and $8, he said.

“What the Navy is doing here is catalyzing and driving an industry that will have far broader applications than the theater of war,” McAdams said.

Biofuel prices could go down further, he said, but the current fuel market works against investing in biofuel production.

When Mabus announced his energy program in October 2009, oil was trading around $75 per barrel and then climbed to about $114 in April 2011. Prices have since plummeted, and on Jan. 12, the price dipped below $30 for the first time in 12 years.

“The real challenge for my industry to commercialize this stuff isn’t the ability to scale up the technology, it’s the ability to finance the facilities in a $40 crude world. That’s the real bugaboo,” McAdams said. “The financing piece to build facilities is the nut has to be cracked, and it has to be cracked at a time when we have oil prices that are at historic lows.”


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