Rocky Mountain Institute Works with Sir Richard Branson and Caribbean Leaders to Fast-Track Renewable Energy Across the Region
NRG Energy to install solar and wind power on Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island.
Necker Island, BVI February 12, 2014
In a joint effort to unlock opportunities on scaling renewable energy projects across the Caribbean-basin, Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute brokered commitments from the British Virgin Islands, Colombia, Dominica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Turks & Caicos. Last week, all joined the Carbon War Room's ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge', a campaign to help flip islands off fossil fuels, as well as move forward with renewable projects for schools and hospitals.
The Summit, held last week in the British Virgin Islands, was attended by representatives of twelve countries, as well as CEOs and executives from over thirty corporations and institutions, including Philips, Johnson Controls, Sungevity, Vestas, NRG, CARICOM, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and The World Bank. The commitments were complemented by news that Virgin Limited Edition and Sir Richard Branson, who had committed Necker to the ‘Ten Island Renewable Challenge' as a ‘demo' island, awarded the contract to transition it on to renewables to U.S. energy giant NRG.
"What we hope to do is use Necker as a test island to show how it can be done," said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group and Carbon War Room. "The only way we're going to win this war is by creative entrepreneurship," to make the price of clean energy cheaper than that of energy from fossil fuels.
Currently, Caribbean nations lack access to low-cost power because of the small size of their national market and an absence of standardized contracts and regional regulatory systems. In some cases, local energy suppliers, locked in for many years, enjoy a virtual monopoly over the system and creditworthiness is also a challenge for many nations. Consequently, banks have been reticent to lend money for energy projects.
"Islands are a microcosm of larger energy systems around the world and offer an excellent test bed to demonstrate and scale innovative, clean energy solutions," said Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute. "We're pleased to bring our decades of experience helping businesses and communities cost-effectively shift to efficiency and renewables to help island nations move beyond clean energy roadmaps to tangible, on-the-ground results."
Summit outcomes included:
Three large, cross-island initiatives were identified for development and advancement
⁃ A CARILEC/CARICOM electricity sector capacity building initiative to help support deployment of energy efficiency and renewables in the region
⁃ Stimulation of a regional ESCO market through PACE program development, loan guarantees, and training programs
⁃ Codification of standardized efficiency "playbooks" for hospitals and hotels to ensure all sites have access to proven energy solutions
Multiple on-the-ground efficiency and renewable project collaborations were accelerated
⁃ Hotels: Sustainable development options were considered and progressed at two developments
—West Caicos (Turks & Caicos) and Anegada (BVI)
⁃ Hospitals: Energy efficiency and renewable options advanced at four hospitals—San Andres & Providencia Hospitals (Colombia), St Jude's Hospital (St Lucia), Milton Cato Hospital (St Vincent & the Grenadines)
⁃ Schools: Energy pilots advanced for four schools
—Antigua Barbuda Institute of Technology, Antigua State College, Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (St Kitts & Nevis), Green Technology Center (USVI)
⁃ Utility-Scale Renewables: Regional partnership formed to help advance geothermal power; additional solar, wind, geothermal, and electric bus project acceleration for BVI, USVI, St Lucia, Cayman Islands, and Aruba
Assembled $300+ million in funding to support the projects above with clarified pathway to access
To reduce hospital project costs, time and risk, OPIC and Johnson Controls developed a standard, pre-engineered modular solution for all countries to fast-track and scale approvals for financing. Johnson Controls will initiate the first tranche of country projects once projects are identified. OPIC last year invested $1.6 billion in renewable projects.
"From a banker's perspective, implementation of solutions for one hospital can be quite time-consuming and complex, for a project size that is not considered individually large scale," said Lynn Tabernacki – OPIC's managing director of renewable and clean energy programs at OPIC. "By developing a solution that will address the major energy inefficiencies common to all hospitals, the lenders can underwrite a common technology and other common risks to fund an entire sector, rather than fund one hospital at a time."
Hospitals operate twenty-four hours a day and use as much as twice the amount of energy as hotels of the same size do. Air-conditioning, ventilation and lighting represent over 80 percent of energy use in hospitals and standard technical solutions could save 20 percent to 30 percent in hospitals across the region.
"We see these first demonstrable projects as a pre-cursor to unlocking the barriers to scaling renewables across the Caribbean over the next two years," said Jose Maria Figueres, president of Carbon War Room.
About Carbon War Room
The Carbon War Room is a global nonprofit, founded by Sir Richard Branson and a team of like-minded entrepreneurs, that accelerates the adoption of business solutions that reduce carbon emissions at gigaton scale and advance the low-carbon economy. The organization focuses on solutions that can be realized using proven technologies under current policy landscapes.
For more information, contact: Press(at)carbonwarroom(dot)com
About Rocky Mountain Institute
Since 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute has advanced market-based solutions that transform global energy use to create a clean, prosperous and secure future. An independent, nonprofit think-and-do tank, RMI engages with businesses, communities and institutions to accelerate and scale replicable solutions that drive the cost-effective shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Please visit http://www.rmi.org for more information. Press contact: kcarlson(at)rmi(dot)org.