Creating Climate Wealth: The Road to Renewable Energy Islands

Last year more than 25 million tourists visited the Caribbean’s islands, drawn in part to the region’s sandy beaches and breathtaking sunsets. Though many consider it a tropical paradise, the Caribbean’s 40 million residents know that such positives also come at great cost: dependence on expensive, imported fossil fuel for energy generation. It affects everything from the prices paid for electricity to transportation to food.

That’s why the Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute are teaming up on a project called Creating Climate Wealth — The Ten Island Renewable Challenge. We’re setting out to show the world what’s possible and set an example for moving toward a renewable energy future. More than a dozen Caribbean islands have boldly signed on to create a renewable, reliable, secure, and affordable energy supply for their citizens.

Challenge participants include Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Puerto Rico, San Andres (Colombia), St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Turks & Caicos, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Although islands such as these face high energy costs, they’re also rich in abundant, local renewable energy sources. But the technologies and other solutions to use that clean energy haven’t been widely implemented. We’re working to bridge that gap, identifying barriers and detailing solutions that can attract private sector investment and enable aggregated demand for large-scale renewable energy systems. We’ll start by focusing on projects in five categories: schools, hospitals, tourism resorts, transportation, and utility-scale renewables.

That process began this week on Necker and Moskito islands, as announced yesterday by Sir Richard Branson. And Carbon War Room and RMI’s commitment to helping develop and execute actionable work plans ensures not only that projects will be completed, but that they can be replicated and scaled across many islands.

By bringing our decades of experience helping businesses and communities cost-effectively shift to efficiency and renewables, RMI is helping unlock the challenge islands face in moving beyond clean energy roadmaps to tangible, on-the-ground results. Magazines like Conde Nast Traveler and Islands are known for their “best of” lists. Now, we’re forging the path to a new “best of” list — best islands to live on, measured not just by their beaches and rum-spiked cocktails and scuba diving, but also by their clean-energy systems, which impact every aspect of island life.

This blog was originaly published on Rocky Mountain Institute and was republished with permission.

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Karen Crofton is a principal with RMI’s industrial practice, where she specializes in turnkey project execution strategies, disruptive technology commercialization, international partnerships, and improvement in industrial efficiency. Karen joined RMI in 2013. Before joining RMI, Karen spent 15 years with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. in a variety of roles. Most recently she was the Commercial Lead for the Corporate New Business Development group focusing on analyzing adjacent business ventures and strategic partnerships via technical roadmaps, financial models, and competitive assessments. Topics included: LED manufacturing, hydrogen fuel cells, helium extraction, carbon fiber manufacturing, phenalkamine synthesis, and alternative fracturing fluids. Prior to working with the Corporate New Business Development group, Karen spent nine years directing major turnkey projects in the semiconductor and photovoltaic industries. Karen held overall P&L accountability for projects in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. This role also required developing local sourcing strategies and developing international partnerships. Previously, Karen spent three years in mechanical and safety systems design as well as root cause analysis.

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