RAND questions the Navy’s push towards alternative fuels citing problems with the initiative.
There is no direct benefit to the Department of Defense or the services from using alternative fuels rather than petroleum-derived fuels.
Defense Department technology-development efforts overemphasize early demonstration and underestimate the difficulty of developing alternative fuel technologies that offer acceptable economic and environmental performance.If Defense Department efforts in alternative fuel testing, research, and promoting early commercial production are successful, the benefits of this work will accrue more to the nation as a whole rather than to DoD or the services.
Large-scale testing and certification of hydrotreated renewable oils is premature.
“Unfortunately, we were not engaged by the authors of this report,” said Thomas W. Hicks, deputy assistant secretary of energy for the Navy. “We don’t believe they adequately engaged the market,” he said, adding, “This is not up to RAND’s standards.”
Why do I get the feeling that this point counterpoint is so much like the criticisms of optimal manning, Sea Swap, and the host of other initiatives that were more flash than bang through the past decade.
There are lots of things we can do to try and reduce the usage of fossil fuels and reduce the need for convoys that carry them through hostile regions…but with limited resources perhaps it’s time to spend more money on conservation with proven technologies (LED lighting, solar power, reduction in electronics usage forward and so on) than in trying to develop the technologies themselves.
Industry will do research and development when there is a profit incentive. DoD should not be the one generating that incentive.