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Call for renewable solutions to power Branson’s private island home

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A tender has been launched for proposals for the installation and operation of renewable energy services on Necker Island – the 74-acre island in the Caribbean owned by Sir Richard Branson. The “request for proposals” was reported on Branson’s Carbon War Room website, and is being coordinated by the CWR, Homer Energy and Reznick Think Energy on behalf of Virgin Limited Edition – the vehicle for Branson’s portfolio of luxury properties.

Since buying the uninhabited island – part of the British Virgin Islands – at the age of 28, just six years after starting Virgin Group, Branson has transformed it into a private retreat, comprising a 10 bedroom Balinese-style villa crowning a hill above the beach. As Wikipedia tells us, the island has accommodation for 28 people – due to a government-imposed restriction that all new owners such island paradises had to develop a resort within five years or the island would revert to the state – and offers private beaches, private pools, tennis courts, breathtaking views, a personal chef, a team of about 60 staff and a water sports equipment, all for just $US53,000 to $US54,000 a day.

But when it comes to its electricity supply, Necker Island suffers from the same old problem as many other ordinary non-private luxury islands: it is powered by expensive, imported and polluting diesel fuel. As Business Insider reported, diesel is shipped to the island to power the island’s three generators, the electricity from which is also used to convert salt water from the Caribbean Sea to as much as 65,000 gallons of usable water a day for the island.

None of this could be cheap, hence the call for proposals to: Engineer and design solutions for 750kW solar PV array; 8kW of solar on the “Great House” (presumably the Balinese villa); a small test battery installation; solar carports and energy services contracts. And bids for: A wind turbine; signification load controls and batteries; in-room energy efficiency systems; and an overall energy supply and management contract.

According to the news release, the goals of the tender are “to reduce and/or eliminate the use of fossil fuel” on Necker Island, and to “install systems that provide savings and reduce costs.” The effort is also serving as the “centrepiece” of Branson’s “10 Island Challenge” – a commitment he made through his Carbon War Room at last year’s Rio+20 UN sustainability conference, which seeks to assist 10 island nations around the world to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. Obviously Necker Island is no island nation, but perhaps its power needs are similar…  

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