Several Caribbean nations committed on Thursday to start replacing diesel generators, the most common means of producing electricity on islands, with renewable sources like wind, solar or the earth’s heat.
The countries, which have already taken steps toward developing the new energy projects and include St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands, signed the pact at a multiday meeting organized by the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit organization that Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group, established to fight climate change.
As part of the effort, Mr. Branson announced on Tuesday a deal with the independent power producer NRG Energy to install solar and wind power on Necker Island, a private enclave he owns, to cover about 80 percent of the power needs. Islands throughout the Caribbean have extremely high electricity costs, and the new renewable projects can help reduce them sharply, he said.
“What we hope to do is use Necker as a test island to show how it can be done,” he said in an interview. “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.
The effort at the Carbon War Room — which aims to sign up 10 islands looking to move away from diesel without turning to natural gas — started with Aruba.
There, a wind farm is up and running, and more are on the way. There are also plans for solar arrays and experimental storage systems involving underwater compressed air and flywheels, said Peter Lilienthal, chief executive of Homer Energy, a technical adviser to the Caribbean program.
The British Virgin Islands is looking into using waste-to-energy plants and has already started changing streetlights to more efficient LEDs. It has also created a climate change policy and is establishing an environmental trust fund that would be financed by fees or taxes collected from residents and visitors, said Kedrick D. Pickering, deputy premier.
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