Growing biofuel feedstocks on military land presents an opportunity for the Department of Defense to reduce their annual maintenance and operations budgets, move toward alternative fuel usage goals, and maintain their role as an environmental land steward. This paper demonstrates that land managed by the military could become an asset in biofuel production. Application of this strategy on all suitable military lands could significantly reduce DoD carbon footprints, produce economical, sustainable, and environmentally friendly biofuel feedstock. Estimates suggest that this method could sustainably displace over 400 million gallons of conventional fuel per year.
The cultural practices associated with growing and converting biofuel feedstock on traditional agronomic lands are well established. The unique objective of this project is to assess the economical and environmental potential for biofuel feedstock production on military land.
DoD is one of the largest US land stewards, managing ≈ 30 million acres. Much of this land requires considerable maintenance and costs. With proper sustainable agronomic practices, an estimated 10 million acres of land could produce more than 400 million gallons of renewable biofuels. These fuels could be used by the military in ground, air, and aquatic vessels. Such action could save $1-2 billion annually, depending on production costs, while increasing national security and environmental sustainability. This could be a significant additional resource for military biofuel production.
An economic model, demonstrating utilization of oilseed feedstock grown on military land and used to produce biodiesel fuel, is presented in this paper.
Assuming a yield of 1100 pounds/acre of oilseed (with 40% oil content and federal tax credit), the model predicts a positive net return of $52/acre or more. In many areas of the country, actual production yields are expected to be much higher than this assumption. Financial benefits are the result of reduced land and overhead costs for DoD when compared with private operations. Growth, collection, transportation and storage of these feedstocks would utilize public-private partnerships. Implementation of this program should be rapid (within 3-4 years) because conventional farming equipment and cultural practices can be used.
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