Cayman Islands project shows solar potential of hurricane-hit island nations

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Richard Branson’s BMR Energy, which was spun out of Virgin Group, develops, owns and operates clean energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America and has moved to acquire a 5 MW solar project which had been in operation in the Cayman Islands since July 2017.

“We are pleased to establish operations in the Cayman Islands and contribute to its transition to renewable energy,” said Bruce Levy, CEO of BMR Energy. “Our team is looking forward to driving facility operations to boost efficiency to deliver as much clean energy as we can for the community, and look forward to expanding our Cayman operations in the future.”

The Cayman Islands has proposed a national renewable energy target of 70% by 2037, and BMR says it is working closely with utilities to reach that goal. The islands are frequently hit by hurricanes, making a centralized fossil fuel based energy system vulnerable, and diesel generation brings price volatility.

High-profile British billionaire Branson and Caribbean island nation leaders launched a ‘Climate-smart’ zone in August after the region was twice hit by devastating hurricanes.

Virgin territory

“The potential for renewable energy across the world is massive, especially here in the Caribbean,” said Branson. “We are perfectly placed as an example from which clean, innovative energy solutions can scale.”

The unincorporated U.S. territory of Puerto Rico was devastated hurricanes Irma and Maria, which destroyed its energy infrastructure and left residents without electricity for months. Solar-plus-storage and microgrids have been lauded as a financially viable solution to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure in the face of a response by U.S. President Donald Trump that has been widely criticized as insufficient.

According to a draft report published by Puerto Rican utility PREPA, liquefied natural gas plants are also under consideration. Opting for gas could reduce the renewable energy share of the country’s 2038 power generation from 77% to 53-57%.