Brighten Haiti announced the largest deployment of solar to schools in Haiti’s history. Beginning January 2022, Brighten Haiti will begin installing solar energy systems on 109 schools throughout rural Haiti.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Education is a clear path out of poverty, as 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.” In Haiti, fewer than 35% of Haitian schools have access to basic electricity. Such schools are run without lights, fans to keep classrooms cool, computers, tablets, or copiers. Schools without electricity drastically underserve students of the 21st century.
In light of the recent 7.2 earthquake, followed closely by tropical storm Grace, devastating an already vulnerable Haiti, the need for rural off-grid solar systems has become even more crucial. A PV system on a local school will provide the surrounding area with the potentially life saving resource of electricity when cut off by disaster.
Each rural school will be supplied with a 6kW PV system. Giving these schools independent, off-grid solar systems will provide enough electricity to power a computer lab, high efficiency lights, fans, and a few additional devices. With the systems offering self-sufficient electricity, schools will not be tied to the inconsistency of an intermittent power grid.
In 2019, prior to founding Brighten Haiti, Kevin Keene had the privilege of helping 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 the Durissy area after the earthquake. The bridge to their area is out. Thankfully they have access to independent electricity for lighting and refrigeration,” said Keene. “It shows us just how important these systems are beyond the impressive impacts to education.”
Brighten Haiti has created a bridge between areas in need in Haiti and the US solar industry. Through the organization’s 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 solar PV systems to schools.
“I’m thrilled that we have found a way to install PV systems for schools in Haiti at a fifth the typical cost. The generosity of our solar partners has made it possible to install a 6kW off-grid 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 solar jobs after the training is complete,” said Kevin Keene.
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