On September 6th, 2017, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma – a category five hurricane. On September 19, less than two weeks later, BVI was hit by Hurricane Maria – also a category five hurricane. 

The two hurricane events caused widespread destruction in many of the islands in BVI and tragically led to numerous deaths. 

Alongside the devastation caused by the hurricanes an important window of opportunity arose to leapfrog from the BVI’s electricity system architecture (characterised by centralised diesel generation system) to a 21st-century electrical grid – with high levels of decentralised renewable energy and energy efficiency. 

To ensure the pursuit of a low-cost and resilient electricity system for the BVI the government commissioned the Resilient National Energy Transition Strategy (R-NETS) process to identify optimal investments in clean energy infrastructure that can be incorporated into the rebuilding process. 

  • As a result of the R-NETS process the following opportunities for the BVI have been identified: 
  • Reduce volatility of electricity costs by reducing diesel fuel use by 21.7 million litres annually
  • Diversify sources of technology by increasing renewable penetration by up to 34 per cent
  • Reduce generation costs by up to 27 per cent

To capture these benefits, the BVI must aggressively pursue energy efficiency, investigate energy storage, expedite regulatory changes and investigate the national wind resource.

Virgin Unite, Irma,

The results from the process have provided BVI decision makers with a sequenced, prioritised, and flexible action plan designed to guide future investment decisions and transition to an electricity system that is resilient, reliable, low-cost, values environmental stewardship, and promotes job and industry creation. 

The R-NETS was developed through an inclusive process in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Works, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, and the British Virgin Islands Electricity Corporation with support from Rocky Mountain Institute

Learn more about RMI’s Islands Energy Programme –  working to accelerate the transition of island economies from a heavy dependence on fossil fuels to a diverse platform of clean energy and energy efficiency