Mage Solar and Advanced Solar Industries, along with students from Messiah College, have completed a 3.99-kW rooftop installation on a health clinic in Haiti. Despite its small size, the system will dramatically impact the services of the clinic and offers reliable and consistent power to positively affect the well-being of staff and patients.
Nearly two years after a devastating earthquake, power supply from the utility in Haiti is still unreliable and unpredictable, destroying anything from light bulbs to computers with inconsistent and low-voltage power. Exorbitant costs for hooking up to the grid prohibit more than three quarters of Haitians from access to grid-supplied electricity—leaving dangerously overused and cost-prohibitive generators as the predominant source of power.
Since 2000, the non-profit organization Partners In Development has been operating a free health care clinic, a sponsorship program for children, a small construction program to aid the rebuilding efforts and a program supporting small business start-ups with skills training and micro-financing options. An estimated 60,000 Haitians have used one or several of PID’s services since the quake in 2010 alone, yet the institution relies primarily on donations and volunteers.
Advanced Solar Industries, based in New Holland, Penn., recently installed 21 Mage Powertec Plus modules on the roof of the PID campus. Designed to withstand hurricane winds and extreme weather conditions, the array will provide consistent, quality power. A sophisticated battery back-up system allows the clinic to draw power from the solar panels or the grid, but the system will reject the city power should it fall out of an acceptable voltage or frequency range. Any superfluous power created by the solar panels will automatically be used to charge the batteries to ensure 24 to 48 hours of power autonomy should weather conditions be unfavorable.
“The money spent on fuel and repairs for the generator is one of our biggest expenses,” says Guetchine Boisrand, head of administration at Partners in Development. “Now we can use the money we save to help kids go to school, buy medicine, give more small business loans, and build more houses.”
The small but skillfully designed PV-system will allow the PID staff to operate the clinic’s treatment and diagnosis services at full-capacity. In total, the project took close to 18 months to complete, after overcoming significant hurdles with shipping and customs.
“Operating in a country like Haiti has been both a rewarding and challenging endeavor,” says Chris Byers, lead project manager. “Even after traveling to Haiti three times to complete the project, I’m struck at how access to power is paramount, for without it you cannot operate an organization in the 21st century effectively, especially in a country like Haiti where there are already so many challenges.”
Installers and employees at Advanced Solar Industries have raised funds for the project by organizing a charity bicycle ride, Ride Solar, in their home state of Pennsylvania. Now the team is already looking at 10-kW project on a school in Nairobi, Kenya.