Cruising on Energy Efficiency: EDF Climate Corps fellow searches for savings at Carnival

EDF Climate Corps fellow | October 26, 2011

By Courtenay Stephens, 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Carnival Corporation & plc, MBA Candidate at Dartmout College, Tuck School of Business

Carnival Corporation & plc is a global cruise company with a portfolio of 10 worldwide cruise brands making it one of the largest vacation companies in the world, attracting 9.1 million guests annually.  While most of this business occurs on board a fleet of 101 cruise ships, Carnival has expanded its shoreside operations to include managing three Caribbean ports.

My task for the summer was to focus on energy efficiency and cost saving strategies at Carnival's Grand Turk Cruise Center (GTCC) in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Nestled on the southern part of the beautiful and barely developed island of Grand Turk, GTCC makes an impression on even the most seasoned traveler. The port consists of several retail shops, a large bar and restaurant, a very large pool, 10 cabanas and a number of port operating facilities

Electricity prices in Grand Turk increased more than 20% over 12 months, and as of July, Carnival was paying much more for electricity on the island than it was at its corporate headquarters in Miami.  Add this to the island's higher water costs and consumption restrictions, and I had my work cut out. Generally EDF Climate Corps fellows don't consider water when creating reports, but in this case it made sense to include it in my evaluations

Due to the high cost of energy,  steps had already been taken to make the port more energy efficient, but I was able to find additional opportunities through the use of LED lighting, energy efficient hand dryers, and programmable digital thermostats. The greatest opportunity for savings, however, would come from in-house water and power generation.

Carnival Corporation had been considering a reverse osmosis desalination plant prior to my arrival, but the company wanted to find a way of using renewables to power the system. I was confident that a strong case could be made for using renewables to power more than just the desalination plant.

After researching renewable energy systems, I presented Carnival with several proposals. My preferred solution was a small-scale concentrated solar power system that – coupled with concrete heat storage – could generate power almost 24/7. The use of wind power was a close second but would require a very large battery bank to consistently provide the power required by GTCC. By using renewables to power the desalination plant and much of the rest of the port, Carnival has the potential to see significant energy and water cost savings over the next couple decades while reducing its associated carbon emissions by several metric tons.

I began the summer expecting an exciting, fun and rewarding experience as an EDF Climate Corps fellow,  and I'm happy to say that neither EDF nor Carnival Corporation & plc let me down. Now, I can barely wait to revisit the island (as a scuba diver this time) to see my recommendations in place!

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.