Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages is looking to advance its commitment to reaching net zero by 2050 by what it calls “a portfolio approach to sustainable marine fuel (SMF) supply.” This week the cruise line reported that it has partnered with the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) and with three leading sustainable fuel providers, Argent Energy, GoodFuels and Twelve.
Twelve has been getting some attention in aviation circles, partnering with Alaska Airways to bring its E-Jet—a low carbon jet fuel produced from recaptured CO2, water and renewable energy — into commercial use. Now Twelve is offering a marine fuel, E-Marine, made using the same technology, which results from breakthrough discoveries by Twelve cofounders, Dr. Etosha Cave and Dr. Kendra Kuhl, at the Jaramillo Group at Stanford University, a recognized world leader in CO2 electrocatalysis.
Virgin Voyages says that “recognizing there is currently no one-size-fits-all, low-carbon fuel solution,” it will enter into long-term agreements for sustainable marine fuels with these providers, and plans to add others over time.
The cruise line estimates that by switching to sustainable marine fuels, the line will reduce its life-cycle carbon emissions from fuel by 75% or more.
“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,” said Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages. “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.”
“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.”