Rebuilding and Expanding Community Micro-Grids
SELF’s work in Haiti both before and after the 2010 earthquake included the electrification of health centers along the Southwest coast of Haiti as well as a community micro-grid to serve Chardonnieres, Port a Piment and Coteaux. This hybrid micro-grid (combining solar with diesel generators) had not been operational very long before another tragedy devastated Haiti. Hurricane Matthew struck the South Coast of Haiti during 2016 as the first category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic since 2007. It caused over 500 deaths and over 2 billion dollars in losses. The damage included much of the micro-grid distribution system and about 60% of the solar that SELF had installed.
With funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, SELF has been working with the Haitian Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications and the local micro-utility (COOPÉRATIVE ELECTRIQUE DE L’ARRONDISSEMENT DES COTEAUX, or CEAC) to rebuild and expand the micro-grid. SELF’s role on the ground was to install 140 kilowatts of PV at the utilities base yard in Coteaux. That work was successfully completed at the end of 2019. SELF now continues to work with CEAC by procuring the materials to rebuild and expand the distribution system as well as new smart meters. All of the work may be done by the end of 2020 if the Covid 19 virus and the often unstable political situation allow. When this phase is complete, over 2,120 households will benefit from having reliable electricity for the first time ever. In addition, the micro-grid will boost local economic development along with the public sector by providing power to schools and health facilities.
As less than 25% of Haiti’s rural population has access to reliable electricity, solar hybrid micro-grids such as this are valuable models showing how to get renewable energy to people much quicker and cheaper than waiting for the national grid to reach Haiti’s rugged rural areas.
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Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in more than 25 countries and pioneered unique applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, health care in Haiti, telemedicine in the Amazon rain forest, online learning in South Africa and microenterprise development in Nigeria.
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