Cayman not eligible for Ten Island Challenge funding

Local Brac parrots love the winter weather.

The Cayman Islands could still be involved in entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Ten Island Challenge, though the territory is not eligible for grant funding from the renewable energy initiative.

Infrastructure Minister Kurt Tibbetts said government has been in regular talks with experts from Mr. Branson’s program, which provides guidance and financial support to island nations that commit to converting to green energy.

He said there is no financing available to the Cayman Islands through the initiative.

“It is still on the table. We have had several discussions with the technical people there,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “One of the benefits of being associated with the Ten Island Challenge is that several of the countries that are part of that receive grants … That was the big excitement about the Ten Island Challenge.

“The Cayman Islands is not considered to be a part of that, so anything we need then to do we have to ask how much it costs.

“It’s not that it can’t be beneficial, [but] we have to ensure it is worth it from a cost standpoint.”

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell first revealed ambitions for the Sister Islands to be part of the challenge in June last year, highlighting the possibility that they could eventually transition to 100 percent reliance on renewable energy sources.

“The vision for Little Cayman and the Brac is that they would be branded as part of the Ten Island Challenge,” he said at the time.

Mr. Tibbetts, speaking at an event this week to announce the Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference to be held in Cayman next month, said that is still the ambition for the Sister Islands.

The Dart group, now one of the major landowners in Little Cayman after purchasing Point of Sand, The Paradise Villas hotel, Hungry Iguana restaurant and another 600-acre property in the last few years, is also interested in helping bring renewable energy to the island.

Pilar Bush, executive vice president of marketing and communications at Dart, speaking at the same conference, said, “We are looking at how could we introduce more sustainable sources of energy for our businesses and maybe other businesses and residences of Little Cayman.

“It is early days but we are having conversations with government, with the Department of Tourism and the administration for the Sister Islands, We are certainly looking at it, having acquired those properties last year. In terms of Little Cayman, it makes sense for us and we are studying it and we look forward to being able to make an announcement in the future about what can be done and what will be done.”

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