USDA and Navy Chase Stimulus Funding in Hawaii for Biofuels
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Navy are investigating the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to set up biofuel projects in Hawaii “as soon as possible” William Cole reports, an Advertiser Military Writer.
It is unclear how much funding will be needed, but an industry forum Tuesday and Wednesday at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii will bring together government officials and potential biofuel companies from the main island and Mainland. The forum builds on an MOU announced in January between the USDA and Navy to investigate the production and use of biofuels (see USDA and US Navy Launch Biofuels Initiative).
According to the USDA, Hawaii’s energy costs are among the highest in the nation and imported oil supplies 90 percent of the state’s energy:
A viable agricultural sector in Hawai’i can enhance Hawai’i's energy security, and energy projects like those anticipated by the Navy’s needs can help rural economies.
The military is also aggressively pursuing renewable jet fuel to both reduce its dependence on foreign oil and increase renewable energy sources (see Novel Intel: Air Force Camelina Flight Test Marks Milestone).
The key obstacles to building out a biofuels market is sufficient demand. Currently, aviation jet fuels haven’t been approved for commercial use and the military is deliberately testing fuels derived from various feedstock sources. Renewable jet fuel safety is a key issue because you can’t have engines failing mid-flight. Many successful commercial and military flights have been completed suggesting that the market for aviation biofuels is only a matter of time.
Cost parity is another concern. The forum in Hawaii will look at various technologies and production systems for producing algae, jatropha, and Camelina (see One Billion Gallons in Camelina Biofuel by 2025) on the island.
Read here for more on the USDA and Navy biofuels forum in Hawaii.