Aruba Headed for 100% Renewables

Caribbean Island Aims to be First Nation Off Fossil Fuels

Rio, Brazil (CWR release) ― The Government of Aruba and the Carbon War Room (CWR), the global entrepreneur initiative founded by Sir Richard Branson and a group of entrepreneurs, have announced a partnership to transition the island to 100 percent renewable energy. The partnership would make Aruba the world’s first sustainable energy economy, with CWR and New America Foundation  (NAF) working to both devise and implement an integrated strategy for the economy-wide transition ― a world first, if successful.

Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman

“My vision is to create a social and economic resilience for Aruba that will improve the health, happiness and wellbeing of its citizens. I believe that today’s commitment will propel Aruba to the next level in our progress toward achieving sustainability,” said Mike Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba.

Aruba’s partnership with CWR and NAF will bring together the expertise and political will to create and to implement a fully integrated strategy for sustainable prosperity. Aruba already has made significant advances towards sustainability with 20 percent of its energy needs supplied by wind power and several solar projects in development as well as innovative urban renewal projects designed to promote greater social cohesion of its neighborhoods. A sustainable growth roadmap will be developed consistent with Aruba’s consensus-driven policy-making approach of “social dialogue.” Preliminary action areas include:

  • TRANSPORT: Implement new low-emission technologies and emission-reduction strategies and create world-class walkable destinations for tourists and residents;
  • ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Incentivize household retrofit and commercial energy efficiency;
  • WATER MINIMIZATION: Water minimization measures for industry and households (Aruba desalinates 100 percent of its water).
  • RENEWABLES:  Implement smart-grid and commercially-viable renewable generation technologies. The high price of petroleum on the islands means that a wider range of technologies is commercially viable.
  • TOURISM: Implement a sustainable approach to smart growth in the tourism sector to create an inspirational holiday destination,
  • AGRICULTURE: Create an agriculture sector in Aruba that makes the best use of water resources. Currently, Aruba imports 100 percent of its food.

Although sustainability and low carbon plans aren’t new to island economies, successful implementation is. Carbon War Room’s Smart Island Economies operation aims to develop a successful model for low-carbon plan implementation, and replicate across other Caribbean and Pacific islands that wish to take that pathway. It plans to attract top-tier technology companies to work on Aruba, and hopes to attract philanthropic funding at the early stages to catalyse private investment.

“I am thrilled that the Carbon War Room can help make a difference for Aruba and its people,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Aruba can set a wonderful example for other island nations to prove that they can get rid of fossil fuels, protect their wonderful natural resources and still grow their economy ― brilliant!’

Ten Vestas wind turbines now provide about 20 percent of electricity to run Aruba's grid. Vestas photo.
Ten Vestas wind turbines now provide about 20 percent of electricity to run Aruba’s grid. Vestas photo.

The announcement was made June 20 at the Vision 20/30: Partnership for Islands event by Sir Richard Branson and Aruba Prime Minister Mike Eman, and co-hosted by the Carbon War Room and Climate Institute. The event witnessed other island economies make commitments to achieve energy independence. Other speakers included: Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Jose Maria Figueres, President of Carbon War Room.

Aruba, an island of 180 square kilometers (70 square miles) located off the coast of Venezuela, has a full-time population of about 110,000, with an average of about 30,000 tourists at any one time – about 1.5 million visitors a year. They use about 900 million kilowatt-hours a year. About 20 percent of that power is now supplied by a windfarm, driven by trade winds on the rocky east coast (the beaches, and tourist hotels, are on the sheltered west coast).

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