Military Marches Forward On Green Energy, Despite Trump PDF Print E-mail

Corporal Robert G. Sutton and Corporal Moses E. Perez installing solar panel on a combat post. U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alexander Quiles via REUTERS

President Donald Trump and his top advisors have often scoffed at government support of green energy. His chief strategist called it "madness."

But the largest U.S. government agency - the Department of Defense - plans to forge ahead under the new administration with a decade-long effort to convert its fuel-hungry operations to renewable power, senior military officials told Reuters.

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The reasons have nothing to do with the white-hot debate over climate change. In combat zones, green energy saves lives by, for instance, reducing the need for easily attacked convoys to deliver diesel fuel to generators at U.S. bases. Mobile solar-power units allow soldiers to prowl silently through enemy territory.

At sea, gas-electric hybrid battleships save fuel and allow for fewer stops – making them less vulnerable to attacks like the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, when al-Qaeda militants killed 17 U.S. soldiers during a refueling stop in Yemen.

The military’s zeal for renewable power has already had broad impacts on energy contractors, generating hundreds of millions in contracts for solar companies and helping to reduce fuel consumption by the world's largest single petroleum buyer.

The armed forces nearly doubled renewable power generation between 2011 and 2015, to 10,534 billion British thermal units, or enough to power about 286,000 average U.S. homes, according to a Department of Defense report.

The number of military renewable energy projects nearly tripled to 1,390 between 2011 and 2015, department data showed, with a number of utilities and solar companies benefiting. Many of those projects are at U.S. bases, where renewable energy allows the military to maintain its own independent source of power in case of a natural disaster or an attack - or cyber attack - that disables the public grid.

The White House did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on the military’s use of green energy. Although Trump has blasted solar subsidies, vowed to boost fossil fuel development and questioned the science behind climate change, military leaders remain confident that the president won’t halt their march toward renewable power.

"We expect that it's going to continue during the Trump administration," said Lt. Col. Wayne Kinsel, head of the infrastructure unit of the Air Force Asset Management Division for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection. "It's really not political."

Other senior officials in the Navy, Air Force and Army also told Reuters that they expected their renewable energy programs to continue.

Lt. Col. J.B. Brindle, a Defense Department spokesman, said the agency "spends very little appropriated funding" on renewable energy projects, but declined to give any figures or to answer additional questions about such efforts.

Trump's Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, has long supported efforts to reduce troop dependence on petroleum. He saw first-hand the vulnerability of diesel convoys to attacks by militants while serving as Commander of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s. As far back as 2003, he urged Navy researchers to find innovative ways to unleash the military from the "tether of fuel."

The military's push into alternative energy started under Republican President George W. Bush in 2007, when he signed a law requiring the Pentagon to get 25 percent of the electricity for its buildings from renewable energy by 2025.

The effort accelerated under President Barack Obama, who required the Army, Air Force and Navy to each deploy 1 gigawatt of renewable power and directed the Army to open a lab developing energy technologies for combat vehicles.

In an apparent nod to Obama's efforts to curb global warming, the Pentagon also reported to Congress in 2015 that the droughts and floods caused by climate change pose a security threat – contributing to foreign political and economic instability that could require substantial troop deployments.

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in his parting memo in January that the Navy has already met its goal, producing 1 gigawatt of electricity - while the other forces are on track to meet their targets.

The programs have their opponents. The conservative Heritage Foundation, for example, has railed against the military's support of renewable power and biofuels.

"The administration right now needs to focus specifically on combat power," said Rachel Zissimos, a Heritage researcher. "Investing money on optional initiatives right now I think is problematic."

Solar companies such as SunPower Corp and utilities including Sempra Energy and Southern have won utility-scale renewable energy contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years, according to the companies and Department of Defense documents reviewed by Reuters.

Southern, for example, has 11 solar projects totaling 310 megawatts on bases in states including Georgia and Alabama. In December, Sempra completed the 150-megawatt Mesquite Solar 3 in Arizona to provide about a third of the power needed at 14 Navy and Marine bases in California for 25 years.

SunPower has already landed a major deal under the Trump administration - a $96 million contract finalized on Feb. 3 to provide power to Vandenberg Air Force base in California until 2043, according to a Pentagon database.

Sempra and Southern said they were committed to serving their customers but declined to comment on whether they were discussing new contracts with the military. SunPower did not comment.

Last year, the Navy began outfitting Arleigh Burke destroyers with gas-electric hybrid engines developed by L3, which won a $119 million contract in 2013.

Tesla, which produces electric cars and batteries, is another company that analysts say could benefit from military contracts. A Tesla spokesman said the company is "supportive” of the military's interest in clean energy but declined comment on whether it was pursuing Defense Department contracts.

The U.S. military's use of oil, meanwhile, fell by more than 20 percent between 2007 and 2015. The bulk of the decline likely stems from declining combat operations rather than rising efficiency and use of renewable energy. But traditional military fuel suppliers - such as Exxon Mobil, BP, and Shell - nonetheless have a lot at stake if the military accelerates its move away from fossil fuels. (For a graphic on Pentagon's oil purchases click

The military’s average annual oil bill was about $14.28 billion between 2007 and 2015.

BP is constantly reviewing its marketing strategies to ensure growth, a spokesman said.

"As fuel slates change, we will adapt, and continue to provide our customers with the products they demand," he said in response to questions about the potential impact of the military’s increased use of renewable fuels.

Hauling fuel to the battlefield has been a hazard for militaries since at least World War I and continues to take a grim toll. One in nearly 40 fuel convoys in Iraq in 2007 resulted in a death or serious injury, according to a study commissioned by the Defense Department. In Afghanistan the same year, one in 24 fuel convoys suffered casualties.

Marines in Afghanistan began carrying solar panels in 2009 to forward bases in battles with Taliban fighters. They used them to power batteries for communications, GPS and night-vision goggles. The panels not only reduced the need for convoys, they allowed marines to shut off generators, hushing operations and making them harder for enemies to detect.

Arotech subsidiary UEC has sold $25 million worth of the solar arrays and expects a bigger business in systems working with batteries and solar to slash dependence on generators, said business manager Nancy Straight.

Col. Brian Magnuson, the head of the Marines' expeditionary energy office, established in 2009, said his office aims to replace diesel-powered generators on the battlefield with solar power, and to reduce energy use with efficiency measures such as insulated tents and the deployment of advanced batteries.

"These technologies are a way to become more effective in combat," Magnuson said. "This is about war-fighting capability."

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Brian Thevenot)

New fuels ‘will power the world fleet by 2050’ PDF Print E-mail

Tue 28 Feb 2017 by Paul Gunton

UPDATED: New fuels ‘will power the world fleet by 2050’Tristan Smith (University College London): Shipping faces a “radical change in fuel” and charterers will help raise development funding (credit: ABB)

Tankers and other bulk shipping sectors will have to use new energy sources if shipping is to adapt to expected restrictions on carbon emissions, predicted Tristan Smith, a reader at University College London who studies the environmental impacts of shipping. Synthetic fuels, including hydrogen, will replace HFO and much of the funding to encourage the transition will be organised by charterers, he said in London today (28 February).

He was taking part in a round-table discussion organised by ABB’s Marine and Ports business unit to explore future power options, a scenario that it calls Shipping 4.0.

“Shipping demand will grow and the CO2 emissions it will be allowed to emit as a sector will decrease,” Dr Smith said. By 2050, he predicted, CO2 emissions per tonne-mile will have to fall by 60-90 per cent if the Paris agreement on climate change is to be met and that will need “either a radical change in fuel or a radical change in speed.”

Since it does not make sense to operate at slow speeds, new fuels will be inevitable, he said, and the future lies with electric ships powered by fuel cells that take their energy from fuels such as hydrogen, ammonia or similar “power to liquids”, he said. In his presentation he focused on hydrogen, but later told Tanker Shipping & Trade that “the market and technologies will be where the winning fuel will be determined.”

He described what he termed his ‘hydrogen hypothesis’, in which the gas would be produced by using renewable energy from wind and solar power, in effect storing that energy at times when it would otherwise be surplus to demand, he said.

He ruled out biofuel as a long-term ship fuelling option as there will not be enough of it, according to his forecasts. And although LNG is an alternative to hydrogen for fuel cells, it would not be carbon neutral and would be only an interim technology, he said. Hydrogen-fuelled ships could become economic by 2030, he believes, assuming technical and regulatory developments.

In January, 13 industry giants, including Shell, Total and Engie, came together at Davos to launch the Hydrogen Council to promote the gas as a cleaner-burning fuel source. 

In the tanker and bulk trades, charterers will play an important role in raising the finance to develop the technologies needed, he said, because they “carry the risk of the shipowners not being ready for decarbonised regulation.” Without new fuelling technologies, when regulation comes, “they will be paying much higher rates because they will be paying the extra carbon price.”

Speaking later to Tanker Shipping & Trade, he cited as an example Shell’s experiments in 2015 with an air-bubble lubrication system to reduce fuel consumption as an example of a charterer supporting emission-reducing technology. In the bulk sector, he mentioned Cargill and Bunge, which are members of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative as examples of charterers that are supporting environmental shipping goals.

Regulation or some other measures to restrict CO2 emissions are inevitable, he said, which could lead to a carbon price being set for emissions. By then, “you need technology to be enabled and made cheaper so that costs are reduced until it becomes cheaper than a fossil fuel equivalent,” he said.

MOL Announces Delivery of Latest Methanol-Powered Vessel PDF Print E-mail
MOL Announces Delivery of Latest Methanol-Powered Vessel

The 50,000 DWT dual-fuel methanol carrier Cajun Sunwas delivered on November 10.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) has announced the November 10 delivery at Japan's Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. (Minaminippon) of the 50,000 DWTdual-fuel methanol carrier Cajun Sun - the latest in a series of newbuild vessels featuring methanol-propulsion, as well as traditional HFO and MGO.

"Methanol significantly reduces smog-causing emissions such as particulates, sulfur oxides, and nitrogen oxides," said MOL.

"In addition, it is also equipped with a ballast water treatment system, ahead of treaty requirements mandating such systems, and adopts energy-saving accessories in front of and astern of the propellers."

Methanol significantly reduces smog-causing emissions


The vessel is slated to be put on long-term charter with Waterfront Shipping Company Limited (Waterfront Shipping).

In June, Ship & Bunker reported that Cajun Sun's sister vessel, Taranaki Sun, embarked on its maiden voyage to China.

In April, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO at DNV GL – Maritime, said methanol bunkers offer a "promising" solution for those operating vessels within emission control areas (ECAs).

US$ 133.3 Mn Renewable Methanol Market to Grow Steadily Through 2026 PDF Print E-mail

VALLEY COTTAGE, New York, November 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

Future Market Insights delivers key insights on the globalrenewable methanol [ ] marketin its latest report titled "Renewable Methanol Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2016-2026". According to the report, global sales of renewable methanol is estimated to be valued at US$ 133.3 Mn by the end of 2016, witnessing a Y-o-Y growth of 5.2% over 2015.


Renewable methanol is a second generation biofuel and is derived from renewable sources such as biomass, industrial waste, municipal waste, and industrial CO2. Renewable methanol is used as a transportation fuel after blending it with other chemicals. The main reason for the rise in demand for renewable methanol as a fuel is the implementation of regulations especially in Europe and North America that over 10% of the transport fuel should come from renewable sources by the end of 2020. Renewable methanol that is produced through the gasification process and using biomass is used as a liquid motor fuel as it has a high hydrogen to carbon ratio due to its high octane rating. Moreover, the use of renewable methanol is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 15%-20% as compared to other fuels. Another major advantage of renewable methanol is that when produced using industrial waste and municipal waste, it reduces the waste content and converts it to usable energy.

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Environmental pollution from CO2emissions and import of crude oil for fuel has resulted in the adoption of renewable energy sources. Thus, reduction of agricultural waste and conversion of municipal solid waste into syngas and further into renewable methanol can offer lucrative growth opportunities for key players operating in the global renewable methanol market.

Segmentation highlights

On the basis of primary source, the global renewable methanol market can be segmented into biomass, industrial waste, municipal waste, and others; and on the basis of end-use application into formaldehyde, MTBE, gasoline, dimethyl ether, solvents, and others.

- The biomass primary source segment is expected to hold significant share in the global renewable methanol market and is estimated to register the highest CAGR of 7.0% in terms of value over the forecast period. The segment is expected to create incremental opportunity of US$ 53.7 Mn during 2016-2026 - The MTBE end-use application segment is anticipated to register the highest CAGR of 8.1% in terms of value between 2016 and 2026. This segment is expected to gain traction over the forecast period due to increasing demand for fuel blends from the automotive industry 

Preview Analysis on Global Renewable Methanol Market Segmentation By Primary Source - Biomass, Municipal Waste and Industrial Waste, By End-Use Application - Formaldehyde, MTBE, Gasoline, Dimethyl Ether, Solvents and Others:

Regional market projections

The global renewable methanol market is segmented on the basis of region into North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific Excluding Japan, Japan, and Middle East & Africa. APEJ is expected to register the highest CAGR in terms of value over the forecast period. Australia and China are highly focussed on using renewable methanol as a fuel blend. The Philippines and Myanmar have also passed various policies mandating the use of fuel blended with renewable methanol by the end of 2020. North America is estimated to account for 26.1% value share of the global renewable methanol market by the end of 2016 and is projected to dominate the global market throughout the forecast period.

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Vendor insights

The report features some of the top companies operating in the global renewable methanol market. Leading market players profiled in the report are BioMCN, Methanex Corporation, Enerkem, Chemrec Inc., Carbon Recycling International, and VarmlandsMetanol. These players have adopted the strategy of signing long-term supply agreements with feedstock suppliers and end-use customers to maintain continuous supply of renewable methanol. Moreover, these companies are also focussing on the transport sector as this sector is expected to offer lucrative opportunities over the forecast period.

Vermont Renewable mandate and carbon tax on fuels PDF Print E-mail
November 07,2016

Vermont is on a course to a goal that would have 90 percent of all of our energy, including automobiles, come from so-called renewable sources.

The bulk of that would come from giant wind and solar farms; in fact, David Blittersdorf (CEO of All Earth Renewables) estimates that we would need 200 miles of ridge line wind turbines, Vermont is 160 miles long.

Add to that the upcoming push to pass a huge tax on home heating oil, natural gas, propane and gasoline (among others) and we are facing some huge obstacles to our way of life here in Vermont.

As a 30-year resident of this area and lifelong Vermonter, I think it is extremely important that we know where the people who want to represent us in the State House stand on these issues.

They are all very aware of it and we should be asking all of them now, before the election.

Ivan St. George

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