The Caribbean island of Nevis is on track to become the first carbon neutral island on Earth. Around 12,000 people live on Nevis, and they currently receive about 90 percent of their power via imported diesel – however the 36-square-mile island aspires to transition completely to renewable energy sources in the next ten years.
Power on the island is delivered by the Nevis Electricity Company (NEVLEC), which was once part of the government but became an independent subsidiary around 15 years ago. The company has stated plans to switch to 100 percent renewable energy in the next decade, and their first step towards that goal was a windfarm built in 2009 which currently provides around 1.6 megawatts of power for the island.
Geothermal energy could help NEVLEC meet its goal. Nevis is home to an inactive volcano that still produces heat, and NEVLEC has already dug three exploration wells for a geothermal plant in partnership with the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) and Nevis Renewable Energy International. They aim to start operating the first phase of the plant in 2017. The planned 10-megawatt geothermal plant would provide more than enough electricity for the entire island, and Nevis would be able to export the extra electricity to neighboring islands such as Saint Kitts.
In addition, NEVLEC recently signed a Power Purchase Agreement with renewable energy development company Omni Alpha to build a waste-to-energy plant, which would solve the problem of limited landfill space on the island. The plant would be powered by a solar array.
Nevis is known for its pristine sandy beaches, hot springs, rain forests, and marine life, and the government has a powerful motivation to promote renewable energy: if ocean levels rise due to climate change, their beloved beaches could vanish underwater.