Virgin Voyages Announces Biofuels Push
Richard Branson’s cruise line Virgin Voyages announced it has partnered with independent sustainability experts, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), along with three 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.
Recognizing there is currently no one-size-fits-all, low-carbon fuel solution, Virgin Voyages said it will enter into long-term agreements for sustainable marine fuels with these providers, which includes plans to add others over time. The cruise line currently operates four ships: Scarlet Lady, Valiant Lady, Resilient Lady and Brilliant Lady.
“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.
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.
“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.”
Elena Schmidt, Executive Director of RSB, said, “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.”
Erik Rietkerk, CEO of Argent Energy, said, “Decarbonization 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.”
Nikolas Nikolaidis, Commercial Manager at GoodFuels, said, “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.”
Nicholas Flanders, Co-Founder & CEO of Twelve, said, “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-Marine, in partnership with Virgin Voyages and look forward to the maiden voyage.”