U.S. Navy’s ‘Green Fleet’ May Tap Australian Biofuel

  • Renewable fuels may provide 50% of U.S. fleet’s power by 2020
  • Queensland seeks to create export-oriented green-fuel market

The U.S. may accept Australia’s offer to supply biofuel for its Asia-Pacific fleet, advancing the Navy’s goal of getting half its power from renewables by 2020.

The premier of Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, signed a cooperation agreement to explore the research, development, supply and sale of advanced drop-in alternative fuels for the Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” this week, according to a statement on Wednesday. The initiative is part of a yearlong exercise supplying warships with alternative fuels, according to the Navy’s website.

The accord “puts Queensland in the box seat to supply the Pacific fleet,” Palaszczuk said.

The state has “a vision for a A$1 billion ($760 million) sustainable and export-oriented” biofuels sector, according to a separate statement on the government’s website. The accord provides a double dividend for Queensland as it strives to become an Asia-Pacific biofuel hub and helps the U.S. Navy reduces its dependence on petroleum, the state said.

Queensland may supply the Navy’s Asia-Pacific war vessels with “drop-in” alternative fuel that’s fully compatible with the ships’ petroleum-power systems, according to the Navy’s website. The fuel is a mix of 10 percent beef tallow with conventional petroleum, it said.

Australia’s Southern Oil Refining Ltd.’s A$16 million biofuel pilot plant may supply the “Great Green Fleet.” The company may eventually build a A$150 million plant, Queensland said.

The initiative draws its name from the “Great White Fleet” -- battleship squadrons that circumnavigated the globe and launched the U.S. as a sea power at the beginning of the 20th century. The “Great Green Fleet” is structured around aircraft carriers, some of which are nuclear-powered, according to the Navy, which added that the costs of the alternative fuels are on a par with conventional petroleum.

Virgin Australia Airlines, Air New Zealand and the Australian Navy are also assessing the potential use of biofuels from Queensland, according to the government.

(Corrects throughout to show Navy in exploratory talks only to take biofuel from Queensland.)
    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE