Dedicated to eliminating energy poverty through the use of solar power, Washington, D.C.’s Solar Electric Light Fund yesterday announced it has installed solar electric systems at 11 health care facilities and one hospital in Haiti. At just over 38 kW, the power capacity of the solar PV systems pales in comparison to the beneficial social and environmental impacts such initiatives can have in troubled, poverty and disaster-stricken nations around the world.
The non-profit Solar Electric Light Foundation (SELF) worked with the Haitian government and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) on the project, which “will help to improve the quality of medical services provided to more than 170,000 Haitians by powering lights, microscopes, centrifuges, autoclaves, vaccine refrigerators and other life-saving equipment,” SELF explained in a press release.
Solar Energy Has Big Advantages
The birth of a child at a clinic at night was one of the first of a host of benefits the solar PV systems will bring to a Haiti still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake that struck in Jan. 2010. Another clinic is already saving money by no longer having to buy and transport the fuel needed to power a vaccine refrigerator.
“A doctor cannot be expected to perform lifesaving surgeries at night without lights or power for medical equipment,” said Bob Freling, SELF’s executive director. “Now, through the provision of reliable solar power, doctors can treat patients at night, diagnose patients any time, and provide vaccines to patients in need – all while saving money by decreasing or eliminating the need for diesel fuel.”
Solar PV systems need regular attention and maintenance. SELF has hired and trained eight Haitians to ensure that all 12 solar PV systems will continue operating at maximum performance levels over the long-term. Energy managers and medical staff at the health clinics and hospital are being trained to operate and monitor them on a daily basis.
“The sustainability of our systems is critical to all of our projects,” said Freling. “In a country continuing to rebuild, it is our responsibility to not only invest in and implement effective energy technologies, but we must also invest in its people.”
SELF’s health care and hospital solar PV installations build on its solar energy installation partnership with the Government of Haiti and the IDB. With backing from its partners, SELF saw to the installation of 68 solar-powered streetlights in the Caradeux tent camp managed by Operasyon Men Nan Men, and 32 solar-powered streetlights in Petionville Club managed by the J/P Haitian Relief Organization founded by Sean Penn.
There some nice light to light up your life.
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.