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U.S. Virgin Islands Makes Aggressive Energy Pledge at NREL

News Release NR-1210

U.S. Virgin Islands Makes Aggressive Energy Pledge at NREL

Governor Signs Agreement During Workshop with Energy, Interior Departments

March 1, 2010

The U.S. Virgin Islands can reduce its reliance on  fossil fuels by 60% within the next 15 years by developing its abundant renewable energy resources, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. announced at a workshop at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

In his NREL visit, Gov. de Jongh and a delegation of 25 stakeholders from the islands’ public and private sectors heard presentations by Department of Energy (DOE) and NREL experts on renewable energy technologies, integration and transmission of electricity from renewable energy systems, policy and market analysis and project development and finance. The delegation also met with officials from Hawaii, Alaska and other locations that are embarking on similarly aggressive renewable energy strategies.

During the three-day workshop, Gov. de Jongh signed a memorandum of understanding between the USVI and federal agencies to develop a clean energy development strategy.

He signed the agreement with Joe Garcia, Director of the DOE Office of Minority Economic Impact and Anthony M. Babauta, Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of Interior.

The agreement calls for NREL and federal agencies to work with the U.S. Virgin Islands to establish an aggressive renewable energy deployment strategy for the islands that includes transportation, electricity generation and transmission, energy efficiency, and tourism and industry. The agreement also calls for a communications and public education campaign.

The MOU is an important step in the islands’ efforts to transform its energy system and  create green jobs while enhancing the islands’ energy security and reducing carbon emissions associated with global warming.

In April 2009, the International Partnership for Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) selected the U.S. Virgin Islands as one of its three pilot projects.

“There is no reason why the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot be the regional leader in the deployment of clean energy,” Gov. de Jongh said. “I hope this partnership with the Energy and Interior Departments and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory creates a synergy that will help us develop our own renewable energy resources.”

“We want to be able to showcase places like the U.S. Virgin Islands, where energy costs are so high, as leaders in implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions” said NREL senior vice president of commercialization and deployment Casey Porto, who opened the NREL workshop.

“The EDIN project will create models that can be replicated elsewhere, putting into play the right mix of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency practices in order to leverage the greatest reduction on fossil fuel dependence” Porto said.

Assistant Interior Secretary Babauta remarked that the joint agreement reflects the call for innovative collaboration that President Obama has been advocating for the the deployment of renewable energy and green jobs accros the nation.  “Secretary Salazar has made the advancement of energy security a DOI priority and I am leading the effort for the Insular Areas,” he said.

“A green, energy efficient Caribbean is the first step in the fight against global warming. Nowhere is the stark reality of rising sea levels more palpable than on islands,” said Joe Garcia, Director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact. “The EDIN project will ebb the tide of rising sea levels and lower the cost of energy in island nations. It will also usher in an era of greater collaboration and energy security in the Americas.”

Currently, the U.S. Virgin Islands rely entirely on fossil fuels to meet their energy demands. Not only do the islands have among the highest energy prices in the U.S., their economy is especially vulnerable to supply disruptions and price fluctuations. At the same time, the islands have abundant natural resources, including solar and wind. With the right financial and regulatory systems, the U.S. Virgin Islands could be a model for renewable energy development – especially for other island nations and territories.

In 2009, the U.S. Virgin Islands Energy Office received $17.8 million in funding from the Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The funding supports a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including improvements to the islands’ power transmission and distribution system, a renewable landfill-gas-to-energy treatment system, and a 350 kilowatt solar photovoltaic panel system to supplement power for the government-operated airport on the island of St. Thomas.

ARRA funding also is supporting an expansion of the islands’ Energy Star Rebate program, which provides incentives for consumers to purchase energy-efficient products, education programs and a financial incentive program for residents to encourage the purchase of hybrid and electric vehicles.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

Virgin Island Energy Development in Island Nations Announcement

EDIN Announces New Projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Dominica, and across the Pacific

April 9, 2009

HONOLULU, HI, — The International Partnership for Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) today announced three new pilot projects. The U.S. pilot project participant will be the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI); Iceland’s pilot project will be working with Dominica; and New Zealand will work to assess geothermal potential for numerous Pacific Island Nations.

Launched in August 2008, EDIN is an international partnership between Iceland, New Zealand and the United States to further the use of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies in island nations and territories. The pilot announcements were made on the final day of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Conference on Business Opportunities in the Islands.

“Islands nations and territories are especially vulnerable to energy price volatility and dependence on foreign oil,” said EDIN Secretariat, Mary Werner, executive manager of integrated deployment for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  “Islands often have abundant renewable resources, including solar, geothermal, wind and ocean energy.  Through this collaboration, our countries can help their island economies across the globe to develop clean energy while increasing their energy security and addressing the climate crisis.”

U.S. Virgin Islands

The choice of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) as the U.S. pilot project reflects a commitment of EDIN and the leaders of USVI, led by Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., to bring about fundamental changes to the way energy is used in the territory.  USVI’s effort will focus on deploying the maximum amount of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies to achieve specific and measurable clean energy targets.  A specific work plan is under development that will identify key needs, projects, and goals that EDIN will help USVI achieve.

The approach and plan will build upon the experience that the US has gained through participating in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), which aims to meet 70 percent of the state’s energy needs with clean energy sources by 2030.  Both the Hawaii and USVI efforts will focus on using indigenous renewable energy resources and improved energy efficiency.   Addressing technology, policy, and finance aspects will be part of this effort to achieve their goals.

Iceland and Dominica Collaboration

The Icelandic authorities introduce the Commonwealth of Dominica as Iceland’s Pilot Project Participant for the EDIN Partnership.  Dominica has significant geothermal resources and Iceland has longstanding expertise in using this sustainable energy source for economic, social and environmental benefits. When the oil crisis struck Iceland in 1973 and 1979, Iceland changed its energy policy, deemphasized oil, and turned to domestic energy resources using hydropower and geothermal. As a result, Iceland is a world leader in the use of renewable energy —  81% of the nation’s primary energy consumption and 99.9% of electricity generation is now from renewables. The partnership with Dominica will build on Iceland’s proven model of transition from a fossil fuel dependent economy to a clean energy economy.

As stated in a Memorandum of Understanding signed April 6th, 2009, an important aspect of the initiative is capacity-building within relevant Dominican governmental institutions.  With this purpose in mind, the United Nations University Geothermal Training Programme (UNU-GTP) in Iceland and short courses held on various continents in geothermal training are open for qualified candidates from energy institutions in Dominica.

Iceland’s Island Growth Initiative (IGI), introduced in 2007, initiated Icelandic-Caribbean cooperation and was the cornerstone to collaboration between the two countries in the field of energy.

Geothermal Potential in the Pacific

New Zealand’s initial project under the EDIN Partnership is to assess the potential for geothermal electricity generation within a number of Pacific Island Nations including U.S. territories.  The assessment is being carried out by New Zealand’s GNS Science, New Zealand’s leading Earth systems research institute.  The work is sponsored by the New Zealand Ministries of Economic Development; Research, Science and Technology; and, Foreign Affairs and Trade.  The study will be based on existing literature and knowledge of the geothermal potential of Pacific Islands.

Geothermal resources have the potential to provide base load electricity at a fraction of the cost of diesel generation, which is used as the main source of electricity in many Pacific Islands.  Eighteen island nations will be considered in this report, which will include detailed assessments for islands that have high geothermal potential together with an assessment of their grid capacity and load factors. All of this data is essential for considering the “fit” of geothermal to the existing grid infrastructure.  The report will be completed in mid-June.

After the report is issued, it is anticipated that further work will be undertaken to ensure the fit between potential developments and the aspirations of Pacific Island nations.  Working with island nations to further the use of renewable energy technologies is the ultimate objective of this project.

For more information on EDIN, please visit http://www.edinenergy.org/

 

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