Sir Richard Branson is taking his beloved 74-acre Necker Island in a greener direction.
The 63-year-old billionaire has announced the "10 Island Renewable Challenge," a campaign meant to move island nations away from diesel oil (which is imported and transported to generators all around the Caribbean) and towards cleaner sources of energy like solar and wind. He plans on using Necker Island as a proof of concept to show others what's possible with renewables.
“What we hope to do is use Necker as a test island to show how it can be done,” said Branson in a statement. “The only way we’re going to win this war is by creative entrepreneurship.”
Branson's effort is being spearheaded by The Carbon War Room (an environmental organization he co-founded) as well as energy experts at the Rocky Mountain Institute. According to Forbes, the partnership has already paid off in the form of an agreement with the World Bank and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation to earmark $300 million for new renewable energy projects in the islands.
A rep for Virgin explaining where the new wind turbines, painted to blend better with the horizon, will be be sited.
"With oil setting the marginal price of electricity, retail electricity prices in the Caribbean are among the highest in the world, hindering economic development, job creation and quality of life,” said Crane, CEO of NRG, the company hired by Branson to bring clean energy to Necker. "By tapping into each island’s specific, readily available and ample renewable energy resources, we can achieve an immediate and significant reduction of operating expenses, imported fuel cost, carbon footprint and other air emissions and noise pollution. The renewables-driven micro-grid solution being designed and installed on Necker is intended to demonstrate this and provide a scalable real life application relevant to other islands of the Caribbean."
Over the next three years, NRG expects to Necker Island to receive 75% of its electricity from a clean mix of solar (700kW), wind (300Kw) and energy storage technologies. In the long-term, Branson says he'll move to make that number 100%. As you'll see in the video below, the idea is to integrate the clean technology so as to make it as discreet against the landscape as possible.
“The potential for more renewable energy across the world is huge especially in places like the Caribbean, where islands offer an excellent test bed to demonstrate and scale innovative, clean energy solutions," said Branson. "While small compared to island nations, Necker is an ideal ‘guinea pig’ for the Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Challenge and will be able to show the potential of ‘state-of-the-art’ technologies in renewable energy."
Check out a video spotlighting Necker's transition to clean energy below.