Virgin Group’s BMR Energy announced Tuesday that it bought a 4-megawatt solar plant from NRG Energy, Inc. in St. Croix that was badly damaged during Hurricane Maria.
BMR Energy will take over the power purchase agreement and restoration efforts of the solar farm, the company said in a press release.
BMR Energy, which develops and operates clean energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America, was purchased by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group in 2016.
“The world needs to find ways to introduce more resilient clean energy,” Branson said in the release. “The Caribbean has an abundance of clean energy sources, and BMR are taking great strides towards helping create zero-carbon energy supplies for years to come.”
Rebuilding the storm-wrecked region is a cause that is close to the Virgin founder. The billionaire businessman owns a private island in British Virgin Islands where he rode out both hurricanes Irma and Maria in the space of two weeks.
“I’ve never experienced anything quite like Hurricane Irma,” Branson said in an Instagram video in September. “It literally devastated the British Virgin Islands.”
NECKER ISLAND, BVI. According to British billionaire, Richard Branson, low-carbon renewable energy conveniences should substitute old fossil fuel-dependent forms when the Caribbean islands are being rebuilt now.
Reuters stated he approached the British and US governments and is mustering help from financial institutions like the Inter-American Development Bank and other philanthropists to set up a fund to help Caribbean nations.
“As part of that fund we want to make sure that the Caribbean moves from dirty energy to clean energy,” he said.
It has generally been the norm in Caribbean islands to create power by diesel burning – that forms global warming carbon dioxide, which will increase the frequency of freak weather events.
“I’ve been involved in talking out about climate change for a number of years now… I never thought I was going to be in the front line in quite the way I was two weeks ago,” he said at an event on fuel efficiency.
Branson has been a longtime champion of clean energy. Head of the Virgin Group conglomerate, he co-founded the Carbon War Room in 2009 to accelerate the implementation of business plans that reduce carbon discharges.
I recall an incident involving a tree on a beach in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. I was taking a late evening stroll on the beach and came across some small, green apples (about the size of a small plum) that were washed up on the sand. I kept going and found the tree that carries these fruit. I picked it up and smelled it. It smelled sweet and as I put it in my mouth to taste it, realized what I was doing – it could be poisonous!
Turns out they are very sweet and extremely poisonous too. Dubbed as the ‘Death Apple’ tree by Columbus, it is also known by islanders not to even come in contact with these trees. They call it the Manchineel Tree. Stories of people who were hiding under these trees from the rain and had sap of these trees drip on them and who then died are well-known in the Caribbean.
Obviously I lived to tell the story, thanks to a wonderful doctor and nurse (I vaguely remember they were the only on the island) who had to be called late that evening because I was suffering from dizziness. A cortisone shot and some activated charcoal had me better within 10 hours, thankfully. But they assured me it could have been deadly.
Here are some pics of the tree’s fruit and an example of a sign that some resorts and authorities may place on the tree to warn people.
Lizpiano is a journalist, health lover and piano entertainer/singer who travels the world. She holds a B.A. degree with Music and Psychology as well as an MPhil (Masters) of Journalism. Follow her on Instagram: @lizpiano, Twitter: @thelizpiano, Facebook: lizpiano.www.lizpiano.com
VIRGIN GORDA, BVI. There was a saying on the island of Virgin Gorda that you should leave the key in the ignition of your car as someone might need it. Sadly, the British Virgin Islands, BVI, and the wonderful people who would create such a saying suffered a double blow with hurricanes Irma and Maria this year.
I’ve visited the island of Virgin Gorda, the smaller of the two most famous BVI islands. Tortola is the capital of the BVI and the biggest one.
The former beauty of Virgin Gorda lay not only in its spectacular scenery, but also in its friendly, peace-loving people and, consequently, also how safe it was to stay there. There weren’t any lock and keys on the doors of the house we stayed in – island people asked us: “why should there be?”
There were no traffic lights in Virgin Gorda, just some speed bumps. These included, it would still take you about 45 minutes to drive from one end of the island to the other. The resorts and beaches were spectacular, especially the signature swimming pools formed naturally in rocks, called the Baths, and its nature reserve.
You may note this blog speaks of Virgin Gorda in the past – that is because many of its houses, businesses and resort hotels are no more.
But our good memories of this island are not gone – crystal blue oceans, pristine beaches, seafood dining on the ocean, yachting and diving, meeting some celebrities in a night club (which often does happen here), cute donkeys that rove the island and even a personal near-death experience involving a ‘Death Tree’ on a beach.
Now, after hurricanes Irma and Maria, it was BVI resident and Virgin Group owner, Richard Branson, who tweeted that we should act now and help restore it to its former glory:
@richardbranson: “As Mother Nature is so clearly telling us, we need more resilient, safer community planning. The time to act is now. ” https://virg.in/oQu
Fischers Cove Beach Hotel in Virgin Gorda’s Facebook post on September 25 reads: “Fischers Cove received substantial damage from Hurricanes Irma and Maria but all of our staff members survived the storms. We have limited rooms available and are on limited generator power. Our Terrace restaurant is open from 11-5:30pm with a daily special as well as our famous pizzas and wings. Sorry no phone service yet! We thank everyone for your kind thoughts and blessings.” Fischers Cove Beach HotelContinue reading “Remembering Virgin Gorda, BVI, post-Irma and Maria”