Solar Power Generation
We have installed several sets of solar arrays to generate electricity for lights and small appliances (like radios and ceiling fans). These solar arrays produce enough power to charge a few batteries so that the households can use lights for a few hours each night. In rural Haiti, there is limited access to electricity so providing light allows for the children to read and study as well as providing a location for adults to socialize. One of the first things improvements to the system that the Haitians organized, implemented and paid for was a “Street light” that allowed people to play dominoes, and socialize in the evening hours. The streetlight became a focal point for the community and provided a simple meeting place for social organizations and churches who normally met by candlelight in someone’s house.
We have tried to implement a solar cooking project in one of the orphanages that we support. By providing a method for cooking that doesn’t require charcoal or propane we thought we could reduce the operating costs. In practice, the solar cookers we used were not big enough to cook the size of meals that were necessary to feed the orphans and it was such a cultural shift from what the cooks were used to that it was not a successful project. However, there are several NGOs in Haiti that have successfully implemented solar cooking for families. Our intent is to try solar cooking again in a more sutiable situation.
The predominate use of solar arrays in our organization has been to power solar water pumps. The water table is fairly high in Haiti so shallow wells can provide cleaning water for families fairly easily. Deeper wells are needed for drinking or cooking. The normative method for getting drinking water in Haiti is to walk to the nearest working hand pump and pump a bucket or two of water and walk back home. Statistically, a Haitian has to walk 6 miles a day to get water for drinking and cooking. We work with local well digging teams to dig wells that are about 100 feet deep. We then put a submersible pump in the bottom of the well and power it with a small solar array. The pump fills a cistern on top of a tower or building and then it gravity feeds into a distribution network. In some cases the local community charges people for the water so that repairs can be paid for out of the profits, while other groups provide the water as part of a large social network