Virgin Voyages may not be sailing to our favorite west coast destinations yet but they continue to be a global leader in improving the cruise industry. Not only with hotel operations improvements regarding sustainable practices and progressive staffing changes that break the conservative standards that most cruise lines seem locked to, but they are now addressing the key to moving any marine vessel forward into a more sustainable future - improved Marine Fuel.
While this isn't an overnight solution, it is a bold move towards making the entire operation of a Virgin Voyages cruise that much more sustainable and a big leap towards the company's goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company believes that by switching to sustainable marine fuels SMF that they can reduce their life-cycle carbon emissions from fuel consumption by 75%!
To do this, they have partnered with independent sustainability experts, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), along with three leading waste-based sustainable fuel providers- Argent Energy, GoodFuels and Twelve - to deliver low carbon fuels to the marine industry. This is on top of the fact that among large vessel cruise ship operators they already have the youngest and more energy efficient fleet on the ocean today.
This set of partnerships is designed to ultiamtely allow them to adopt drop-in sustainable fuels, such as those made from abundant, problematic waste or direct air capture of CO2, is paramount for reducing emissions and reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Additionally, this effort includes championing key partnerships across the industry and advocating for supportive policies and incentives that will enable these solutions to reach a greater scale. Virgin Voyages is prepared to rise to the occasion by working collectively with other leading stakeholders to drive demand and increase access to supply. This is an important first step in developing the appropriate infrastructure and creating supportive policies for routine commercial use.
While it is likely that these new fuels will appear first for vessels sailing from Miami and serving the Caribbean destinations, this innovation would be welcomed in places like Port of Los Angeles for Mexican Riviera cruises from San Pedro and especially those cruises to Alaska where environmental sensitivity si even more important.
Here are some additional quotes from other partners about this new move by Virgin Voyages to make marine fuel more sustainable:
“In order to significantly reduce our carbon footprint further, we must transition to lower-carbon fuel sources as soon as possible. We could do this today with our existing engines if more sustainable ‘drop-in’ fuels were available in our ports of call. Unfortunately, these fuels are not yet widely available, and in most cases, are not cost competitive. We want to work with partners to pioneer for the essential change,” said Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages.
“Virgin will always aim to be a leader in the industries we operate in,” said Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group. “We aspire to make the cruise industry better in many ways including through climate action. I’m proud that Virgin Voyages will be working with industry partners and others to shape the future of more sustainable cruise travel and to bring about a real sea change for all.”
“Decarbonisation of the marine sector is an oceanic task and Virgin Voyages’ decision to use Argent Energy as a supplier of sustainable marine fuels demonstrates the importance of waste-based biodiesel as a key strategy in that task,” said Erik Rietkerk, CEO of Argent Energy.
“This partnership with Virgin Voyages signifies the cruise industry’s willingness and readiness to structurally decarbonize its operations. We applaud Virgin Voyages for recognizing sustainable marine biofuel (SMF) as the only viable alternative to fossil fuels — and the only available solution to effectively decarbonize shipping today,” said Nikolas Nikolaidis, Commercial Manager at GoodFuels.
“Twelve is devoted to using our carbon transformation technology to replace fossil fuels in the hardest to abate sectors, including marine travel. We are thrilled to launch our sustainable marine fuel, E-MarineTM, in partnership with Virgin Voyages and look forward to the maiden voyage,” said Nicholas Flanders, Co-Founder & CEO of Twelve.
“I am thrilled to welcome Virgin Voyages to the RSB membership. I know we will be able to create a significant impact in driving change towards sustainable marine fuels that advance climate goals and result in positive social and environmental benefits,” said Elena Schmidt, Executive Director of RSB.
Sustainable Marine Fuel Partners include:
For more information about the partners that Virgin Voyages is working with to bring this project forward, please check out the following companies who will be working together to design and produce the next generation of Sustainable Marine Fuel - SMF - for Virgin Voyages and likely other cruise operators as well.
About Argent Energy:
Argent Energy is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of biodiesel with plants in Europe and in the UK with a total production capacity expanding to over 750 million liters per year. Biodiesel is one of the most cost-effective means of decarbonizing marine transport. The fuel can be used in marine engines as a direct ‘drop-in’ replacement for fossil fuels, being capable of being blended into marine fuel to dramatically reduce total CO2 emissions. Argent’s biodiesel is made from sustainable sources. The waste feedstocks are approved and certified by both EU and Dutch regulators.
GoodFuels is a global pioneer in sustainable marine fuels, with offices in Europe and Singapore. The Netherlands-headquartered company has created a one-stop-shop for marine industry customers, integrating the entire supply chain for sustainable marine fuels since 2015. From feedstock to tank, GoodFuels’ proposition covers elements of sourcing feedstock and ensuring its 100% sustainability in the production and refining, the global distribution, quality assurance, and marketing programs with ports, governments, and cargo owners. GoodFuels’ next-generation sustainable marine biofuel (SMF) is derived from feedstocks that are certified as 100% waste or residue, with no land-use issues and no competition with food production or deforestation.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) is a global membership organization that drives the just and sustainable transition to a bio-based and circular economy. RSB’s sustainability framework is the world’s most trusted and peer-reviewed foundation for supporting innovative solutions to the climate crisis, while also enhancing social and environmental sustainability. It has been collaboratively developed by RSB’s multi-stakeholder membership community – a diverse range of organizations across multiple supply chains, regions and industries that are lighting the way for a global sustainability movement. Media Contact: Cris Robertson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Twelve is the carbon transformation company, a new kind of chemical company built for the climate era. We make essential products from air, not oil. Our groundbreaking technology eliminates emissions by transforming CO2 into critical chemicals, materials and fuels that today are made from fossil fuels. We call it carbon transformation, and it fundamentally changes how we can address climate change, reduce emissions and reverse the carbon imbalance. Reinventing what it means to be a chemical company, we’re on a mission to create a climate positive world and a fossil free future through the power of chemistry. Learn more at www.twelve.co.