I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Social Innovation: The U.S. Navy's 'Great Green Fleet' Sets Sail
The U.S. Navy's Henry J Kaiser, a social innovation oiler like no other, cast its anchor away at the end of June, heading toward the central Pacific carrying approximately 900,000 gallons of biofuel blended with petroleum to power fighter jets, destroyers and the cruisers. The Navy has called this the 'great green fleet' as it's the first carrier strike group to be powered largely by alternative fuels.
This July is the first time these traditional-powered aircrafts and ships will use this social innovation blend of biofuel during the 20-nation Rim of the Pacific exercise, which, in layman's terms, is the world's biggest annual international maritime warfare manoeuvres. It is a six-week exercise initiative that the U.S. government hopes can show that its Navy looks 'green.'
However, this exercise has not gone without criticism. Some Republicans have pounced on this new fuel's price, which is $26 a gallon compared to $3.60 for conventional fuel. They say that this social innovation programme is a waste of valuable funds and over-priced at a time when the U.S. government's budget is over-stretched and is facing cuts. Plus, the President's critics say it's an opportunity for the White House to push green energy policies that don't make economic sense. They further support their argument by saying that they do not believe it's the Navy's job to be involved in creating new technologies as it cannot afford to do so.
Rebutting the critics, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus calls this social innovation project vital to the military's energy security. Later this month he will be announcing new investments in biofuel with his colleagues at the Department of Energy and Agriculture Defence. The Energy and Agriculture department, along with Defence, will be jointly sponsoring a half-a-billion-dollar initiative to foster a competitive biofuel industry. Mabus told a conference on climate and security in June, "The reason we're doing this is that we simply buy too many fossil fuels from either actually or potentially volatile places on earth. We use 2% of all the fossil fuels that the United States uses and one of the things that this means is that we can bring the market. And to paraphrase the old Field of Dreams line, if the Navy comes, they will build it."
So, according to Mabus, the U.S can use its buying muscleit is the largest single consumer of petroleum in the worldto guarantee the demand needed for biofuel businesses to produce at a scale that will eventually drive down costs. This biofuels initiative is one of the most ambitious energy plans of the U.S. government to-date and aims for social innovation biofuels to supply about half of the Navy's non-nuclear fuel needs by 2020; that's about 8m barrels a year. Impressive!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia