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, Gov. John P. de Jongh Jr. announced at a workshop at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
de Jongh and a delegation of 25 stakeholders from the islands' public and private sectors heard presentations by 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, de Jongh signed a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Virgin Islands and federal agencies to develop a clean energy development strategy. 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.
Currently, the U.S. Virgin Islands relies entirely on fossil fuels to meet its energy demands. Not only do the islands have among the highest energy prices in the U.S., but the economy is especially vulnerable to supply disruptions and price fluctuations. At the same time, the islands have abundant natural resources, including wind and solar.