Christmas comes a bit earlier for solar and renewable energy advocates, particularly those associated with Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Institute and Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room. The two organizations have merged to pursue a number of initiatives, including bringing renewable energy to at least 10 islands the Caribbean.
CWR president José Maria Figueres will chair the combined Board of Trustees. “Private-sector organizations like RMI and CWR have the independence and flexibility to convene the right players in the right markets,” Figueres said. “The real barrier is slow adoption rates, not inadequate technologies or lack of opportunities. The alliance can expand pockets of innovation and rapidly bring them to scale.”
The Ten Island Challenge effort will help move them from using costly and polluting diesel generators to produce electricity, often at much higher rates than available on larger bodies of land that can produce their own electricity from other sources like natural gas, coal or nuclear. On these islands, as in Hawaii, where energy can cost upwards of 35 cents per kilowatt hour, solar energy is already a less expensive option for new energy sources. The Ten Island Challenge has already taken off in Aruba, Colombia, the Bahamas, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Turks and Caicos, according to the combined entity.
The initiative is emblematic of how both organizations seek to use market-based mechanisms (i.e., it’s cheaper to pollute less) to speed the adoption of renewable energy, energy efficiency and other means to reduce carbon and other pollutants in the atmosphere. “For the past five years, CWR has punched well above its weight, leveraging the creativity and convening power of fellow entrepreneurs to tackle climate challenge. By marrying Rocky Mountain Institute’s analytical rigor and energy-system expertise with CWR’s bold and agile entrepreneurial approach, together we can go further, faster," said Sir Richard Branson, Carbon War Room founder.
“For more than 32 years, RMI had partnered with industry and business with significant successes in transforming energy use across the transportation, buildings, industrial, and electricity sectors,” said Amory Lovins, RMI co-founder, chief scientist, and chairman emeritus. In the past the company has produced reports with various groups, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on how to increase solar adoption by reducing soft costs of rooftop solar, for instance. “Now, we can capitalize on Carbon War Room’s proven ability to engage and excite corporate executives, entrepreneurs and investors to rally around innovative ideas and take action.”
The combined organization’s first joint effort is already well underway and they’re already working on projects, too. For instance, they’re woking on distributed renewable energy like rooftop solar, freight and trucking efficiency technologies that can reduce fuel costs by $40 billion and expanding the use of energy efficiency in buildings—which account for roughly 75 percent of the U.S.’ energy consumption, according to the organization.
The new organization will be headed by RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst. “This strategic alliance positions RMI and CWR to catalyze tangible, industry-changing impact that truly transforms global energy use,” Kortenhorst said.Tweet