This wide ranging Scientific American article discusses how the Navy and Air Force are becoming less dependent upon foreign oil in the interest of security. The Secretary of the Navy says his department will be halfway off of fossil fuels by 2020. The Air Force has a similar goal. It is already the leading purchaser of renewable energy in the federal government. [BioFuel test flight video]
With the Defense Department's fuel budget at $14 billion in 2010, this means a massive change in the economics of alternative energy. To help justify their strategy, a report has just been released showing a ratio of about 1 dead soldier for every 24 fuel convoys in Afghanistan. But what really bugs the brass is the notion that the US military might could be suppressed by foreign manipulation of the oil market.
As with computer chips and railroads, I expect the US Military will again buy down the price of a new technology. [see Breakthrough: the Death of Environmentalism] So consumers will soon have many more clean energy options courtesy of the military.
Here's a notion for how the California alternative energy goals can align nicely with the military's counterpart:
Pipe some of the exhaust from the state's natural gas power plants through algae tanks. Add some sunlight and harvest huge amounts of algae. Spend a bit more solar energy on conversion to liquid fuels, and a waste stream becomes a fuel supply for the Navy & Air Force. The utilities address their obligations to reduce their CO2 footprint while the military is willing to throw lots of money at domestic fuel production. Everyone's happy except OPEC.
BTW, the Navy's first hybrid electric ship saved $2 million in fuel on its maiden voyage to San Diego.
Reference: DOD's Energy use