World famous British entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, initiated a non-profit organization known as carbon war room in order to offer sustainable energy to island nations. This is in an effort to curb the threat currently facing small island economies due to climate change.
Branson is a self-made billionaire who first became famous through his music record label Virgin Records. The billionaire businessperson owns an island in the Caribbean “Necker”. He plans to use his island as a model to test the practical applications of renewable energy technology for sustainable island economies.
Operation Smart Island Economies
The initiative’s launch was at the Rio+20 summit in the year 2012, at the UN summit on climate change. There has been concerns that island nations are the worst affected by climate change. A small rise in sea level could threaten the existence of the Caribbean Islands, completely immersing them in water. As such, any achievements from this ten-island would have a real impact on the war on climate change, if implemented on a wider scale.
The project aims at achieve 100% renewable energy dependency on Ten Caribbean Islands. Richard Branson, through Virgin Limited Edition has collaborated with NRG, an established energy company in the United States. Together they plan to source 75 percent of energy used from renewable energy resources. The deal calls for the latter to create a micro grid that will encompass solar and wind generation.
So far, quite a number of islands have signed up for the mission. Carbon War Room (CWR) aims to work in collaboration with these island governments in sectors where there are proven profitable emissions reduction opportunities. By launching operations in those sectors, CWR aims to create a high-growth low carbon economy.
Sir Richard Branson is encouraging both Europe and china to contribute to technologies that are low carbon friendly. He noted that for both China and Europe, 20% of their GDP is from public procurement. They could tweak their procurement laws to have a huge impact on the development of low carbon development. With such investments, the private sector could develop effective low cost solutions to renewable energy sources. Besides reducing carbon emissions, the project creates employment opportunities and expands opportunities for local businesses.
Besides a lack of expertise and skills in renewable energy, there are a number of other key challenges faced in trying to create green sustainable economies for the Caribbean islands. Key among is the glaring lack of institutional capacity which hinders their ability to develop sound strategies towards the realization of the projects goals. This is where Sir Richard Branson comes in; he works as an honest intermediary between technological and institutional experts in the west and the Caribbean island nations. CWR then assists the nations to choose the best solutions to their particular needs.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA power consumption in the developing world economies will have doubled by 2020. Conventional electric supply lines will not be able to keep up with this demand. Thus, the majority of energy supply will have to come from the renewable energy sources. By encouraging use of renewable energy now, the world can stay ahead of the growth of energy demand and avert a possible looming crisis.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.