Sir Richard Branson’s Renewable Energy ‘Demo Island’

An island owned by Sir Richard Branson will become a demonstration project for renewable energy.

Necker Island is a 74-acre island in the British Virgin Islands, just north of Virgin Gorda. Sir Branson scooped up the island for a song in the 1970’s – just USD$180,000. Uninhabited at the time, a resort was built on Necker Island soon after the purchase that is now managed by Virgin Limited Edition.

The USA’s NRG Energy will develop a renewables based micro-grid for the entire island; with at least 75% of the power sourced from solar panels, wind and energy storage technologies.

“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 David Crane, CEO of NRG.

“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.”

Mr Crane says the “Demo Island” project will  provide a scalable solution relevant to other island nations of the Caribbean that can reduce and ultimately eliminate their dependence on fossil fuels for electricity.

The agreement was signed and announced at the Creating Climate Wealth Summit. The project going ahead is subject to regulatory approval in the British Virgin Islands.

“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,” said Sir Branson, Founder of Virgin Group.

The Ten Island Challenge works with pioneering island economies to reduce dependency on fossil fuels through promoting commercial opportunities, attracting expert engineering firms and investment.