Virgin Voyages has concluded its first sustainable marine fuel trial.
The initiative is an important element of Virgin Voyages’ sustainability program and commitment to reach net zero by 2050, according to a press release.
The company said it is among the industry leaders committed to testing sustainable marine fuels, such as waste-based biofuels.
The brand’s Valiant Lady. based in Barcelona, bunkered the fuel on September 24 and concluded its testing and utilization on October 16. Throughout the trial, the team analyzed the fuel and engine performance during bunkering, storing, and burning, ensuring that it met laboratory requirements and operational expectations.
The fuel blend consisted of 20% used cooking oil, which was in compliance with global ISCC certification, and 80% conventional heavy fuel oil. This deliberate selection was made because heavy fuel oil represents the largest share of fuel consumed by maritime vessels.
“There are a variety of blended fuel options that are becoming available,” said Jill Stoneberg, Senior Director of Social Impact and Sustainability at Virgin Voyages. “We were especially interested in testing the performance of sustainable fuel mixed with heavy fuel oil. The latter makes up a significant portion of the industry’s fuel demand and therefore, is one of the greatest opportunities for transitioning to lower-carbon fuel solutions.”
In addition to its net zero commitment by 2050, Virgin Voyages champions ocean health by encouraging sustainable behaviors among its passengers, and advocating for responsible tourism in the 100+ ports of call that the brand frequents. The company has eliminated unnecessary single-use plastics, has placed emphasis on sourcing goods and food products sustainably, and engages in social impact initiatives such as supporting mangrove reforestation in the Caribbean.
“Completing our first sustainable fuel trial is incredibly promising; this is a near-term solution for the shipping and cruising industry,” Stoneberg said. “Sustainable, bio-based fuels can work with our existing engines today, and we could transition to these cleaner fuels now if they were more readily available and affordable. We’re encouraging our cruising counterparts to ask for and test these fuels as stronger demand will ultimately help accelerate the market.”
In 2025, the maritime industry will be mandated to incorporate more sustainable fuels into a portion of its fuel demand to align with the European Union’s FuelEU Maritime regulation. Virgin Voyages is preparing for this transition by actively investigating how the adoption of sustainable fuels will expedite its decarbonization strategy in the short term. Additionally, the company continues to advocate for stringent sustainability standards for waste-based biofuels like Refuse-Separated Fuel (RSB).
Photo: Virgin ship in Toulon Bay; Credit: Ports of Toulon Bay/ CCI Var