Cruise Line Going Green

Dr. Gary O’Bireck

In previous blogs we have outlined how specific cruise lines have been working towards the use of more efficient fuels. Here’s what’s been happening with one cruise line that appears to be very serious about lowering its carbon footprint.

In a plan to cut its energy consumption and harmful emissions, Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd is partnering with Southern Power to construct and operate a new 200-megawatt wind facility in Kansas. This 62-wind turbine facility will be able to provide electricity to more than 60,000 homes across two counties. To reduce its economic risk for building this wind farm, RCL has guaranteed to buy its power over a 12-year period. Southern Power customers will then be able to purchase their electricity from a clean source.

This unique initiative adds to RCL’s collection of efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Scrubbers, steam turbines, air lubrication systems and energy management software are examples of additional efforts RCL undertakes to reduce its environmental impact. By backing this wind farm, RCL will offset up to 12% of its annual carbon emissions. The new Reading Wind Facility should generate approximately 760,000 MW hours of electricity per year over the 12-year agreement. This translates into enough clean energy to offset nearly 512,000 tons of CO2 a year, beginning in 2020. These offsets will apply to the greenhouse gases directly produced by the company’s ships, commonly known as Scope 1 emissions.

As reported in Seatrade Cruise News, the Reading Wind Facility project was forced to meet numerous requirements and undergo a rigorous 10-month assessment to attain Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard, the most recognized American third-party validation scheme. The Verified Carbon Standard ensures that emissions reductions are taking place, so that companies can be issued tradable greenhouse gas credits. These credits can then be sold on the open market and retired as a method by which their own emissions are offset. To further complement RCL’s expansive sustainability initiatives, Southern Power will join with RES America Developments to qualify for 100% production tax credits.

Even though RCL uses an enormous amount of fuel in its ships, the company appears to continually seek ways of becoming more energy-efficient. According to Anne Kalosh of Seatrade Cruise News, RCL is currently on track to meet its voluntary goal of becoming 35% more fuel-efficient. Perhaps this is inspiration for not only other cruise lines but for other transportation sectors.