Oct 11, 2018 · Business

US heartland is key to RCL’s latest sustainability innovation

When all is in place, the wind blowing across a farm on the Kansas flatlands will play a significant role in offsetting Royal Caribbean’s carbon emissions.

Flying the flag of innovation, RCL is partnering with wholesale energy provider Southern Power to build a wind turbine farm, selling the clean power produced there to offset direct emissions from fuel burned by its ships.

Until now, no company – cruiseline or otherwise – has entered such a carbon-offset arrangement.

“This agreement complements our longstanding strategic initiatives to reduce the company’s emissions and become a more sustainable operator,” says Richard D. Fain, RCL’s chairman and CEO. “We are constantly looking for new ways to reduce our environmental footprint, both in the short and long-term, and thanks to our partnership with Southern Power this is the latest step in our journey.”

The project site is in Reading, Kansas, straddling Osage and Lyon counties. The 200-megawatt Reading Wind Facility is to include 62 wind turbines manufactured by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy to generate about 760,000-megawatt hours per year over the 12-year agreement. That clean power is in turn expected to annually offset 10-12 percent of RCL’s Scope 1, or direct, emissions.

The project is expected to break ground in the second quarter of 2019 and be completed a year later. It is Southern Power’s 11th wind facility and its first to be validated under the Verified Carbon Standard for certifying carbon emissions reductions.

Southern Power will operate and maintain the facility upon completion, while RCL provides its economic underpinnings.

The renewable energy project is classified as a Virtual Power Purchase Agreement, which doesn’t require RCL to be located in the same grid region as the wind farm, a key to the plan because its ships travel to more than 1,000 destinations on all seven continents.

Southern Power President and CEO Mark Lantrip says Reading Wind is “the first project in our joint development agreement with RES America Developments Inc., qualifying for 100 percent production tax credits and is an important addition to Southern Power’s portfolio. We’re proud to support Royal Caribbean’s innovative approach toward advancing its sustainability through this project.”

The new wind farm is just the latest in Royal Caribbean’s innovative sustainability efforts, which include programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through innovations at sea and in port. Among them are Advanced Emission Purification systems, which remove approximately 98 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions; air-lubrication systems to reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency; energy management software – an industry first – to achieve top fuel efficiency; the introduction in the near future of new fuels such as liquefied natural gas; and onboard use of energy-efficient equipment in galleys and the replacement of incandescent bulbs with fluorescent and LED lighting, as well as the introduction of fuel cells.

Royal Caribbean also encourages guests to make a positive impact on the environment through Save the Waves, its onboard stewardship program focused on reducing waste, reusing and recycling, and properly disposing of remaining waste.

For more information about Royal Caribbean’s sustainability programs, please visit sustainability.rclcorporate.com.