The high cost of energy, along with isolated grids and an abundance of renewable energy resources have motivated island communities around the world to investigate alternatives to fossil fuels.  Many have set ambitious objectives to reduce oil consumption—the primary fossil fuel consumed on most islands.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Virgin Islands has emerged as a leader in the effort to reduce oil imports and stabilize electricity costs. 

This is to be accomplished by the deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technology. In 2010, a partnership among the Territory, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) was formed under the guidance of DOE’s Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) initiative. This partnership has been asked to develop and implement a plan to bring about a 60% reduction in business-as-usual (BAU) fossil fuel demand by 2025 (60×25).

The Technical Report, U.S. Virgin Islands Energy Road Map: Analysis, by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy sets out a "High Renewables Case" that says the potential for aggressive energy efficiency to achieve the U.S. Virgin Islands is definitely a reality. The report recognizes the challenge in such dramatic change in 25% to 50% of end-user electricity use, and suggests as an alternative to build more renewable energy generation.

This alternative energy strategy has higher costs for the initial installation than other scenarios, but still results in significant oil cost savings over business as usual. It may also be somewhat more of a technical challenge because of the increasing levels of variable output renewables, but at the same time, it may actually have an easier implementation because of the scale of the impact that large renewables deployment could bring.

The report explains that while an increased reliance on renewable generation will reduce the need for energy efficiency, improving the efficiency of the existing infrastructure supply is important, as existing assets will likely remain in use for some time. At the same time, there will likely be many end users for which these investments in efficiency would prove too costly. Nonetheless, these elements still contribute some of the overall 2025 energy mix in the high renewables case where the new renewable generation makes up almost half of the total 60×25 goal. These targets are aggressive, but the benefits in the reduction of fossil fuels will be dramatic in the years to come.

If you have questions about the Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) initiative and how it can benefit your business, or would like to talk to Managing Attorney Tom Bolt about the prospect of new, emerging technologies in the Territory, please contact BoltNagi PC.  BoltNagi is one of the largest firms in the United States Virgin Islands and has experienced legal professionals to assist companies based in or seeking to relocate in the U.S. Virgin Islands. BoltNagi means business!