Sustainable fuel trials were recently held on Virgin Voyages’ ‘Valiant Lady’.
Virgin claimed that it was among the industry leaders committed to testing sustainable marine fuels, such as waste-based biofuels.
Barcelona-based ‘Valiant Lady’ took on the fuel on 24th September and concluded its testing and utilisation on 16th October.
Throughout the trial, Virgin analysed 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, plus 80% conventional heavy fuel oil.
Heavy fuel oil was chosen as it represented the largest share of fuel consumed in the maritime sector.
“There are a variety of blended fuel options that are becoming available,” said Jill Stoneberg, Virgin Voyages’ Senior Director of Social Impact and Sustainability.
“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,” she explained.
In addition to a net zero commitment by 2050, Virgin Voyages said that it championed ocean health by encouraging sustainable behaviour among its passengers, and also advocated for responsible tourism in the cruise line’s 100 plus ports of call.
The company has already eliminated unnecessary single-use plastics, placed emphasis on sourcing goods and food products sustainably, and engaged in social impact initiatives, such as supporting mangrove re-forestation 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 added.
“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,” she said.
In 2025, the maritime industry will be mandated to incorporate more sustainable fuels into part of its fuel demand to align with the European Union’s FuelEU Maritime regulation.
Virgin Voyages said that it was preparing for this transition by actively investigating how the adoption of sustainable fuels will expedite its de-carbonisation strategy in the short term.
It added that it continued to call for stringent sustainability standards for waste-based biofuels, such as refuse-separated fuel (RSB).