Virgin Voyages Partners with Sustainable Marine Fuel Providers

The cruise ship Valiant Lady operated by Virgin Voyages docked at the dock in La Coruña Spain on March 23, 2022
  • Virgin Voyages announces new partnerships with sustainable fuel providers
  • The new partnerships will help the cruise line reach their goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Switching to bio-fuels will result in at least a 75% reduction in life-cycle carbon emissions

Virgin Voyages is the new cruise line backed by Virgin Groups Richard Branson.

The cruise line made a splash by providing a hip, trendy, adult-only vacation for an underserved cruise market, young adults. Now they have made a commitment to reaching net zero by 2050. 

On September 21st, they announced the partnerships with Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), experts in environmental sustainability, and three waste-based sustainable fuel providers.

Virgin Voyages Commits to Net Zero by 2050

Aerial view of Scarlet lady cruise ship operated by Virgin Voyages arriving at Portsmouth international port

Virgin Voyages is partnering with leading sustainability experts and waste-based sustainable fuel providers to advance the line’s goal of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The partnerships represent a major step for the cruise line, which advances the brand’s goals for a low-carbon future.

The cruise line has agreements with Argent Energy, GoodFuels, and Twelve. The partnerships create a portfolio approach that will supply the Virgin ships with sustainable marine fuel.

International maritime transport accounts for 3% of global greenhouse gasses (source). Virgin Voyages estimates that switching to bio-fuels will result in at least a 75% reduction in life-cycle carbon emissions.

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

Many new cruise ships being released are powered by LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas). The first LNG-powered cruise ship released was the AIDAnova in 2018. “According to a 2018 paper from the University of Texas at Austin. It also reduces greenhouse emissions by as much as an additional 30 percent”(https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=5138).

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.

About the New Partnerships

Scarlet Lady Rendering Sailing in Open Ocean
Rendering Credit (Virgin Voyages)

As there’s no one size fits all solution to reaching net zero, Virgin Voyages plans to start with the three partnerships and gradually add other providers over time. 

Argent Energy is a European waste-based biodiesel producer with a vision to help decarbonize transport worldwide. The company has a total production capacity of 750 million liters per year.

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.

GoodFuels is a pioneer and global leader in sustainable marine biofuels. Their sustainable marine biofuel is derived from feedstocks that are certified as 100% waste or residue.

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 a carbon transformation company that eliminates emissions by transforming CO2 into critical chemicals, materials, and fuels that today are made from fossil fuels.

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.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) offers the world’s most trusted and peer-reviewed sustainability framework. The framework provides a foundation for companies to enhance social and environmental sustainability.

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.

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Marcello

I’ve been cruising since I was 11 years old. I love the freedom that cruising provides, meeting new people, and exploring amazing new ships. I love to share my passion for cruising and travel with readers.