Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. signed a deal with Southern Power this week to build a wind turbine farm that will offset direct emissions from fuel burned by RCL’s ships. The new facility is expected to generate about 760,000-megawatt hours annually over the 12-year agreement, offsetting 10 to 12% of RCL’s Scope 1 emissions.
The agreement calls for a 200-megawatt wind farm in Reading, Kansas that includes 62 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, according to RCL and Southern Power. It will become Southern Power’s 11th wind facility and the first to be validated under the Verified Carbon Standard for certifying carbon emissions reductions.
The VCS Program led by the DC-based not-for-profit organization Verra, is a widely used voluntary greenhouse gas reduction program. Verra says that more than 1,300 certified VCS projects have reduced or removed more than 200 million metric tons of carbon and other GHG emissions from the atmosphere.
RCL says the new agreement is a first. “Until now, no company — cruise line or otherwise — has entered such a carbon-offset arrangement,” according to the global cruise vacation company.
This project is Southern Power’s first one in a joint development agreement with RES America Developments Inc. It qualifies for 100% production tax credits, the wholesale energy provider says. Construction on the Reading Wind Facility is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2019 and be completed a year later.
Emissions reduction is one of RCL’s three key focus areas intended to reduce their environmental footprint. By 2020, the company aims to reduce emissions by 35%. Royal Caribbean’s technologies and strategies to reduce emissions and create more efficient vessels include:
- Advanced emission purification systems that remove approximately 98% of sulfur dioxide emissions
- Air lubrication systems to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency
- Energy management software to achieve top fuel efficiency
- The introduction of new fuels such as liquefied natural gas in the near future
- Onboard energy-efficient equipment in galleys, fluorescent and LED lighting, and the introduction of fuel cells
“We are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint, both in the short and long term,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Moves to reduce emissions in the maritime sector picked up in 2018. Earlier this year, the International Maritime Organization produced a historic deal with members agreeing to reduce total annual global shipping industry GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050. In April, Viking Line equipped its passenger ship Viking Grace with a nearly 79-foot-tall rotor sail for wind power — a world’s first.