We need to continue to find new ways to power our planet. The sustainable energy revolution is well underway, but we must not stand still. At Virgin, part of our investment strategy focuses upon opportunities in the renewable energy sector and also energy efficiency. This continues our theme of investing in renewable energy and efficiency, we’re continuing to explore further investments in this area – which I’m very excited about.
One of our latest investments is particularly close to my heart, right here in the Caribbean. We have recently purchased BMR Energy, a developer, and manager and owner of energy generation projects in the Caribbean and Central America. The company currently has a 36 MW onshore wind park in Jamaica, with additional projects in the region in the pipeline.
Richard Branson wind farm
Earlier in the year I joined Bruce Levy, President of BMR Energy, US Ambassador to Jamaica Luis G Moreno, Jamaica Public Service CEO Kelly Tomblin and Dr. Andrew Wheatley, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, for the official ribbon cutting on the new project. It was a great occasion, with a performance from the Steel Bird Steel Orchestra, and a wonderful opportunity to highlight the need to accelerate the renewable energy revolution.
The potential for renewable energy across the world is massive, especially here in the Caribbean. We are perfectly placed as an example from which clean, innovative energy solutions can scale. Caribbean economies suffer from some of the highest electricity prices in the world—perpetuating poverty, contributing to national debts, and preventing any form of sustainable development.
Despite an abundance of sun and wind, Caribbean islands have implemented relatively low amounts of renewables to date, as a result of several barriers, such as long-term fossil fuel contracts and issues with local permitting. As a consequence, Caribbean countries spend a large portion of their GDP on imported fossil fuels thereby constraining socioeconomic development.
And, while Caribbean countries emit less than one per cent of total global greenhouse gases, they are bearing the brunt of climate change, facing nearer-term impacts from sea-level rise, increasing temperatures, and extreme weather events. The wind farm is expected to reduce greenhouse gases by about 66,000 tons CO2 equivalent per year, roughly equivalent to taking 13,000 cars off the road.
The purchase of BMR will allow us to invest in clean energy throughout the region. It’s great to see the Jamaican Government’s commitment to renewable energy too. The BMR Wind Farm is a hugely positive step forward. Here’s to building and investing in more projects and continuing to improve the environment.