Published On: Fri, Oct 20th, 2017

Calls for renewable energy rebuild in the Caribbean

wind farmMIAMI - Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and CEO of BMR Energy Bruce Levy were due to meet this week with energy industry and government leaders from across the Caribbean to discuss renewable energy development following the recent hurricanes in the region.

The destructive impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria have been felt across the Caribbean islands and beyond. In Puerto Rico, 85 percent of citizens are still without power; in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), key generation and distribution infrastructure face catastrophic damage. Access to electricity across other Caribbean islands is extremely limited.

These hurricanes have reinforced the need for more resilient and reliable energy systems in the region. This topic will be a focus of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF), taking place in Miami from October 18 to 20. CREF, the largest annual gathering of the Caribbean energy market, brings together regional and global influencers in renewable energy industries and will include presentations from BMR Energy executives. BMR will also co-host a private reception with Branson, whose company Virgin Group acquired BMR in 2016, to advance dialogue and collaboration with the aim of accelerating progress on clean energy rebuilding projects.

In addition to creating energy security for the region, rebuilding from the hurricanes with renewable energy is also an opportunity to highlight the fact that many of the affected islands have some of the world’s highest electricity prices, largely as a result of dependence on imported fossil fuels like diesel.

Renewable energy projects like solar and wind farms offer solutions to both challenges: lower costs stemming from generating electricity without the need for fuel and decentralized resources that are more resilient and easier to repair after natural disasters.

The political and business leaders attending CREF, who include current and former heads of state and experts from international institutions like the United Nations and World Bank, will discuss how to carve the most direct paths to rebuilding with renewables in the Caribbean. Branson, a resident of the BVI, which were devastated by Hurricane Irma, is a huge advocate of renewable energy. Branson hopes that the BMR reception will enhance industry leaders’ support of his vision for an internationally-funded effort to make renewable energy the centerpiece of rebuilding efforts.

“Hurricanes Irma and Maria were devastating. It’s certain more of these intense hurricanes will be brought on by climate change in the coming years. There has never been a more important time to push for renewable energy in the Caribbean,” he said.

“We are bringing together international leaders and experts who are in the best position to build a cleaner, more resilient energy future for the Caribbean. BMR Energy is a prime example of these; their expertise in renewables projects will be invaluable as we build a cleaner, more resilient future across the BVI and wider Caribbean.”

CREF and the reception follow two milestones for BMR Energy: the completion of one year of operation at BMR’s award-winning, 36-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Jamaica — the largest private-sector renewable energy project in Jamaica — and the company’s acquisition of the 7 MW Green Solar array in Guatemala — BMR’s first solar project in Central America.

The milestones mark steady progress for BMR, a leader in the field of renewables development in the Caribbean that combines 70 years of experience at the executive level with deep commitment to its work through long-term ownership of every project it develops.

BMR is also currently involved in the development of additional renewable energy projects throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, including Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Virgin Islands, St Kitts, Honduras, Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico.

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