Virgin Voyages, a new cruise line with a fleet of ships amongst the youngest in the industry, on Wednesday (21 September) said it has partnered with independent sustainability experts, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), along with three leading waste-based sustainable fuel providers to deliver low carbon fuels to the marine industry.
Argent Energy, GoodFuels and Twelve are collaborating with the cruise line to further advance Virgin Voyages’ commitment of reaching net zero by 2050.
Following months of detailed research, Virgin Voyages has taken an important step to advancing a low-carbon future by establishing key partnerships and building a portfolio approach to sustainable marine fuel (SMF) supply. Recognising there is currently no one-size-fits-all, low-carbon fuel solution, Virgin Voyages will enter into long-term agreements for sustainable marine fuels with these providers, which includes plans to add others over time.
Adopting 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. Virgin Voyages estimates that by switching to sustainable marine fuels, the line will reduce its life-cycle carbon emissions from fuel by 75% or more.
This action 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 said it was 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,” it said.
“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 decarbonise its operations. We applaud Virgin Voyages for recognising sustainable marine biofuel (SMF) as the only viable alternative to fossil fuels — and the only available solution to effectively decarbonise 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.
Photo credit: Virgin Voyages
Published: 28 September, 2022
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