by Conor Duffy
A US Navy plan to have half its fleet running on alternative fuels by the end of the decade may provide a boost to Australian producers.
US Navy officials are expected to outline the plans — which include sourcing fuel from Australian producers — at an international conference on biofuels and shipping in Sydney today.
Part of the plan includes having an entire fleet of warships — dubbed the "Great Green Fleet" — running on biofuels by 2016.
The deputy assistant secretary of energy for the US Navy, Tom Hicks, says alternative fuels have already powered some of the world's most advanced engines in some of the most challenging situations.
"We've tested [alternative fuels] in all of our manned and unmanned aircraft and we're going through the process and completing the testing of all of our surface vessels," he said.
"To that end, you have some of the most sophisticated defence platforms in the world — specifically the F-18 Hornet which has gone Mach 1.7 times the speed of sound."
Mr Hicks is in Australia for the maritime fuels conference hosted by the US Studies Centre and is visiting Australian biofuels producers looking for products to power the next generation of weaponry.
He says the Navy's plan is not just all about being green.
"It's also about really fundamentally changing what, where, and from whom we purchase fuel in the future," he said.
"If you think about a lot of the fuel that we purchase today, it comes from places that are either politically unstable or often politically unfriendly to not only the US but the interests of our allies as well."
Susan Pond from the US Studies Centre says Australian biofuel producers should be ready for an increased demand.
"For the Australian industry, it gives us a catalyst and a target, albeit it will be a single point in time and relatively low volume, but it certainly gives the industry a target to aim for, to put it on the road to being a commercial and very valuable industry economically for this country," she said.