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The Winds of Change

Need a vacation?  Well now you can go guilt-free…well, almost guilt-free.   Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has signed a deal with Southern Power to build a wind turbine farm in hopes of offsetting the emissions from their 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.  “Until now, no company — cruise line or otherwise — has entered such a carbon-offset arrangement,” according to the global cruise vacation company. By 2020, the company aims to reduce emissions by 35%. 

Wind power is attracting climate conscious companies across the country and the globe.  For huge factories and corporate buildings this transition provides a clean alternative to burning fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases into the environment.  General Motors has been moving away from using coal as the primary source of energy for its factory operations for some time.  The plant in Arlington, Texas will now be getting 100% of its electricity from the new Cactus Flats Wind Farm in Eden, Texas.  The Arlington facility is one of the largest GM factories in the United States and produces 1,200 new vehicles a day.  Not everyone is convinced that a manufacturer of high-fuel consuming SUV’s is sincere and committed to lowering emissions. But despite claims of greenwashing, GM has pledged to meet their global operations electricity needs with renewable energy by 2050.  Whirlpool Corporation also announced its plans to use wind turbines to power its Greenville, Ohio facility.  "These wind turbines are another example of how global companies like Whirlpool can make a positive impact at the local level," said Jenni Hanna, plant lead for Greenville Operations, Whirlpool Corporation.  In the tech world, Google is no stranger to breaking records and accomplishing great feats but reducing their carbon footprint will not be a walk in the park.  Google is already the largest corporate buyer in the world and its analysis shows how difficult it will be to eliminate all emissions from its footprint.  They are turning to wind to lower those numbers by signing several wind PPA’s near their Hamina, Finland data center.  Google noted, “Even in locations where renewables like solar and wind power are available, their variability means they are unable to provide power 24x7. This can be problematic in places where there are few carbon free sources to step in when sunlight and wind diminish.”  Other large tech companies like Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Microsoft are also focusing on renewables.  Hopefully, global companies, large and small, will continue to lead the winds of change toward a carbon-free future. 

Nevelyn Black's picture

Thank Nevelyn for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 18, 2018 1:47 pm GMT

"offsetting 10 to 12% of RCL’s Scope 1 emissions"

I'd hardly say that makes it guilt free, given that cruise ships are so environmentally unfriendly and dangerous to the climate to begin with. Not only that, but purchasing offsetting credits from a renewable source is only a mild action-- it doesn't actually replace any of the carbon-intensive fuel burned by its ships.

 

That said, would I prefer a cruise ship company do this type of action than they not do it? Of course. But it's so comparatively little up against their actual environmental and climate damage that it's hard to see it as much more than greenwashing lip service. 

Nevelyn Black's picture
Nevelyn Black on Oct 19, 2018 9:22 pm GMT

Valid point Matt.  Perhaps an eco-friendly AirBNB that emphasizes energy reduction will be a better fit until there are more net-zero energy options available.  Admittedly, it may be a while. 

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 22, 2018 7:51 pm GMT

Thanks for the link on eco-friendly AirBNB's-- very interesting to read. Curious to see if that sort of trend picks up. 

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