BMR Energy has acquired a 5-megawatt solar plant in Bodden Town from Entropy Cayman. The plant is the only commercial-scale solar facility on island.

The Virgin Group company, owned by Richard Branson, develops and operates clean energy projects in the Caribbean and Latin America. It will take over all operations of the solar facility, as well as the power purchase agreement under which the electricity generated at the 22-acre plant is sold to Caribbean Utilities Company, according to a press release issued by BMR.

The Bodden Town Solar Farm is located in a former quarry and has 21,690 photovoltaic panels. It started operations in July 2017.

“We are pleased to establish operations in the Cayman Islands and contribute to its transition to renewable energy,” said Bruce Levy, CEO of BMR Energy. “Our team is looking forward to driving facility operations to boost efficiency to deliver as much clean energy as we can for the community and [we] look forward to expanding our Cayman operations in the future.”

BMR said it is working closely with CUC to provide reliable renewable energy to consumers and support Cayman in the pursuit of its target of generating 70 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2037, as defined by the National Energy Policy.

Sacha Tibbetts, vice president of Customer Services and Technology for CUC, said he is looking forward to working together with BMR Energy on the continued operation of the solar farm.

He said, “CUC’s aim is to have 25 percent of energy on the grid come from renewable energy sources by 2025 and to meet the objectives and targets of the National Energy Policy over the longer term.”

Currently, the solar plant is Cayman’s only utility-scale renewable energy facility and provides up to 5 MW to CUC grid’s peak load of about 110 MW, enough to provide power to about 800 homes. CUC is Cayman’s only electricity provider and has more than 29,000 customers.

Cayman’s utility regulator OfReg said in a report last year that the solar plant had made a positive impact during its first year of operation in terms of producing clean electricity, reducing greenhouse gas and creating jobs.

But the solar facility’s owner Entropy, a subsidiary of North Carolina-based Entropy Investment Management, had advised the regulator that financially the plant “was not a successful investment.”

OfReg said the project, which was built for US$9.7 million, with a budget overrun of US$2 million, generated less energy than anticipated in its first year. Unfavorable weather conditions, inverter faults, software issues and dust on the panels meant that instead of the expected 11.1 GWh, the project generated only 9.4 GW-hours.

Nevertheless, the clean electricity helps Cayman avoid more than 4.2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year and lowers costs for consumers, the regulator noted.

In a press statement, BMR Energy said it is working toward “Richard Branson’s goal of accelerating renewable energy adoption and building a cleaner, more resilient energy future for the Caribbean and Latin America.”

The Virgin Group company spent last year restoring existing solar projects that were damaged in the 2017 hurricane season and exploring new markets for renewable energy in the region.

BMR Energy currently has projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guatemala, Jamaica and now the Cayman Islands. They include a 4-MW solar facility in Spanish Town, St. Croix, purchased in June 2018, and a 36-MW wind farm in Jamaica, the largest private sector renewable energy project in the country.

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