Empowering Haitian Rural Communities for Economic Development with Pico Solar Energy Projects

Authors: Delia Heck*, Ferrum College
Topics: Energy, Economic Geography, Development
Keywords: Solar Energy, Economic Development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Napoleon C3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In Haiti only 38% of the population has access to electricity, most of whom are located in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Rural villages in Haiti often lack access to power and thus struggle to provide opportunities for education, healthcare and employment. Many of the schools and clinics present in these rural areas are provided by churches supported by partner entities in the United States. This creates a culture of dependence whereby the US partner finds itself needing to continually raise money to fund annual operating costs. In Cerca la Source, Haiti, a pico solar project is underway to significantly alter this relationship. The goal of the project is to provide electricity to help St. Marc’s Episcopal School become financially sustainable by creating a revenue stream utilizing a 10 kW solar energy system provided by DigitalKap, a Haitian solar energy company. Electricity can be used to sell copying, printing, cell phone charging and goods requiring refrigeration such as cold drinks and icee pops. While there are numerous programs throughout Haiti to provide solar energy, the scale of those projects and the companies providing the equipment are fundamentally different. The existing large-scale and even micro-grid projects are usually in areas with populations over 200,000, leaving small rural communities without electricity. Additionally, foreign companies often supply the equipment. Thus, while any endeavor to provide solar electricity in Haiti is helpful, the impact of these projects is economically muted by using foreign suppliers and still leaves the underserved in rural areas left out.

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