November 2012: Hurricane Sandy Hits Haiti; We Solarize 20 Schools and Install a Solar Market Garden™ in Haiti with NRG, Energy, Inc.; Eight New Solar Market Gardens™ in Benin.

 

> Hurricane Sandy Hits Haiti

Last week, Hurricane Sandy hit Haiti with some of the worst rains the country has seen in recent years, and took the lives of over 50 Haitians. Our team was in the midst of the turmoil, and Jean-Baptiste Certain, our project manager, gave us a first-hand account of the hurricane’s impact…

Before the hurricane hit, about 10 of our team members were in the mountains of Haiti’s Central Plateau where we recently installed solar systems at some very isolated schools for the NRG project, and it rained way more than expected. In the south, where we recently installed 12 solar systems for health centers, the destruction and flooding have been massive. In Randèl, a village located at the top of a very dangerous river where we did an installation, 550 mm (21.6 inches) of water fell in two-and-a-half days. About 700 mm (27.5 inches) of rain fell near Chantal in three days. Elsewhere, bridges fell, roads disappeared, and there was flooding everywhere. The river next to our house in Port-au-Prince was so high that it almost took out the only two bridges in town – that’s a rise of 25 feet in three days!

But, our team is safe, and we didn’t break or lose anything. Makes you wonder though – what would have happened if the hurricane had actually passed right over us?”

> Haiti: Solarizing 20 Schools and a Solar Market Garden with NRG Energy, Inc.

We’re proud to announce that we completed the successful installation of solar electric systems at 20 schools located in Haiti’s Central Plateau, and a system that will power a Solar Market Garden™ (SMG) to spur agricultural production in the region. Through collaboration with NRG Energy, Inc., these systems will help to improve the quality of education for more than 6,000 Haitian students by providing the electricity needed to power lights, communication systems, laptop computers and other school equipment, and the SMG will help to increase the production of crops at the Lashto Zanmi Agrikol farm.

These installations complete The Sun Lights the Way: Brightening Boucan Carré project, funded by NRG’s $1 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative and an additional $500,000 pledge from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. The schools project also received support from Trina Solar, a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products, which donated all of the solar panels.

> Benin Update

The eight new Solar Market Gardens™ we are installing in Benin are nearing completion! We have finished constructing the reservoirs that will store the water used to irrigate the fields, installed solar systems at four sites, and set-up the panel support structures at the four remaining sites. ADESCA, our local partner in Benin, recently hired two agriculture experts to help ensure the productivity of the fields and two solar technicians who will be responsible for the sustainability of our systems. To support their work, we’ll be conducting an intensive operations and maintenance training session for them in the coming weeks.

We’re scheduled to install the drip irrigation systems at all of the sites in December and January, and will start planting the fields shortly thereafter!

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