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Buildings Solar panels on the roof of Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais, courtesy of Partners in Health

Published on February 1st, 2013 | by Chelsea

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Haiti’s Solar Powered Hospital



Maintaining steady electricity flow in hospitals is literally an issue of life and death. In places where electrical power is unreliable, hospitals are forced to rely on generators, even in the midst of surgery or with patients on ventilators. So what’s a hospital in Haiti supposed to do?

Install 1,800 solar panels on the roof, of course. And that’s exactly what Partners in Health (PIH) and Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (HUM) recently did.

Solar panels on the roof of Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais, courtesy of Partners in Health

The brand new hospital, which is expected to open in March, has a 200,000-square-foot roof just perfect for harvesting solar power. But installing the rooftop solar farm hasn’t been without logistical concerns. Firstly, the ample energy coming from the roof had to work with the shoddy electrical grid and system of generators previously used. Once the panels were installed, inverters to convert the electricity and send it to the grid were added. In addition to all of this new technology, six local engineers were trained in maintenance and repairs, with two of them employed at the hospital full-time.

Haiti gets plenty of sunshine — and it’s actually too much for effective solar photovoltaics to work well. Another logistical hurdle was overcome by raising the panels about a foot off the roof and painting the roof white, which keeps the panels cooler and gets more rays to bounce onto the panels.

The results of all of this planning and implementation is expected to be a reduction of about $379,000 in annual operating costs, as well as preventing 210 metric tons of carbon emissions.

The HUM project is one of 11 other healthcare facilities integrating solar power into everyday operations (pun intended).

Providing stable electricity for healthcare providers and patients in Haiti (and other countries) and supporting campaigns like the Solar Light Fund’s “Energy is a Human Right, solar is genuinely saving lives.

Source: Partners in Health

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About the Author

is a former newspaper reporter who has spent the past few years teaching English in Poland, Finland and Japan. When she wasn't teaching or writing, Chelsea was traveling Europe and Asia, sampling spicy street food along the way.



  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.t.peffly Matthew Todd Peffly

    Are those cinder blocks holding those panels down? Say it isn’t so.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Looks like it!

    • Bob_Wallace

      Probably heavy enough for normal Caribbean winds. Probably not enough for the next hurricane hit. Better racking needed.

    • Tilolite Tout-Puissant

      Whoever installed those solar panels should be in jail? Using loose cinder blocks to hold down solar panels in a country known for earthquakes and hurricane seasons? That is criminal. As they say in Haiti, this is “lave men swiye’l ate” or “wash your hands them wipe them dry on the dirt floor”.

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