NRG Energy to demonstrate renewables microgrid on Branson’s Necker Island

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NRG Energy, Inc. has contracted under a Diesel Reduction Agreement with Virgin Limited Edition to develop a renewables-driven microgrid for Sir Richard Branson’s luxury Caribbean retreat Necker Island, supplying electricity powered at least 75% by an integrated array of solar, wind and energy storage technologies.

The system will be supported by new energy efficiency and energy control automation designed to reduce overall energy use and synchronize energy consumption with renewable energy production on the island.

The agreement was announced at the latest Creating Climate Wealth Summit, which was hosted by Branson’s Carbon War Room initiative, which, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute, is running a Ten Island Renewable Challenge aimed to help island nations flip off fossil fuels. The Necker Island project represents “Demo Island” of the Challenge.

By deploying highly distributed and locally automated and controlled installations, many island nations of the Caribbean should be able to reduce and ultimately eliminate their dependence on costly fossil fuels for electricity.

“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 NRG CEO David Crane. “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. The renewables-driven microgrid solution being designed and installed on Necker is intended to demonstrate this and provide a scalable real life application relevant to other islands of the Caribbean.”

Said Branson: “The potential for more renewable energy across the world is huge especially in places like the Caribbean, where islands offer an excellent test bed to demonstrate and scale innovative, clean energy solutions. 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.”

In order to accelerate project development and execution, NRG, which has solar and off-grid projects elsewhere in the Caribbean Basin, has established partnerships with leading industry suppliers and regional partners.

The installation of the microgrid system is subject to regulatory approval in the British Virgin Islands, which the parties promptly will seek to obtain.