Beginning January 2022, Brighten Haiti will begin installing PV systems on 109 schools in rural Haiti, the largest deployment of solar to schools in Haiti’s history.
Fewer than 35% of Haitian schools have access to electricity. Run without lights, cooling fans, or computers, schools provide limited benefits. A recent UNESCO study showed, “low levels of education and acquisition of that education can hinder economic prosperity, which would, in turn, slow down poverty reduction.” Education is a clear path out of poverty.
Schools will receive a 6kW PV system. Furnishing schools with PV systems will provide electricity to power a computer lab, efficient lighting, fans, and additional devices. With systems offering self-sufficient electricity, schools will not be tied to an intermittent power grid, assuming grid power is available.
In light of the 7.2 earthquakes, followed by tropical storm Grace, hitting an already vulnerable Haiti, the need for rural, off-grid solar systems has come into stark relief. A PV system on a local school can provide electricity when an area is cut off by a disaster.
In 2019, prior to founding Brighten Haiti, Kevin Keene helped install solar at the rural school in Durissy, Haiti, bringing electricity to the school for the first time.
“We have been able to make contact with people in Durissy after the earthquake. The bridge to their area is out. Thankfully they have access to independent electricity for lighting and refrigeration,” said Kevin. “It shows us how important these systems are beyond the impressive impacts to education.”
Brighten Haiti has created a bridge between the need in Haiti and the U.S. solar industry. Through the Solar Re-USE program and partnerships with the solar supply chain, paired with Brighten Haiti’s successful solar apprenticeships, the organization is able to provide both training and significantly reduced-cost PV systems to schools.
“I’m thrilled we have found a way to install PV on schools in Haiti at a fifth the typical cost. The generosity of our solar partners has made it possible to install a 6kW system for about $6,000, where we would normally see that same system installed at about $30,000. That’s $1 per watt, installed. And we are able to provide installation training giving people access to long-term solar jobs,” said Kevin.
Brighten Haiti has worked with U.S. solar companies to ship nearly 4,000 PV modules to Haiti. The need for solar equipment far outstrips donations. To meet the organization’s ambitious goal of 109 solar systems, Brighten Haiti is actively looking for additional resources and partners to procure solar modules and equipment. Businesses and individuals can get involved by donating equipment or by sponsoring schools.