Around the world, especially in areas where access to energy is limited for a variety of reasons, renewable energy technologies offer hope beyond the use of expensive and limited fossil fuels. The choice of alternative energy not only affects pollution levels of a country, but it can also have a significant impact on the local economy. One of the countries in desperate need of clean and cheap energy is Haiti, one of the poorest and most recently devastated by natural disasters nations of our planet.
Haiti’s economy has been crippled by frequent natural disasters, from earthquakes to tropical storms and hurricanes. The citizens of Haiti live in extreme poverty conditions and, in some parts, overwhelming or total lack of health care. What this nation really needs is investment in alternative energy technologies such as solar and wind power.
Maybe there is cause for hope along this line of thinking as the county is now home to the largest solar powered hospital in the entire world.
Mirebalais is a town located northeast of the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Here, just like in the majority of the Haitian cities, electricity is considered to be a luxury, since according to a recent study, around 80% of the county’s population does not have access to it. But this situation is beginning to change.
Almost 2 years ago, back in May 2013, the aforementioned hospital commenced its operation. It includes around 1800 solar panels, all of them located on the roof of the hospital. This is a huge project for the standards of Haiti, since it has already offered the required energy to charge the incredible number of 19,000 electric cars, allow the operation of six surgical rooms located inside the hospital and also contribute to the safe delivery of almost 800 babies.
This is a huge achievement for Haiti since, according to the national statistics concerning birth conditions, around 75% of pregnant women give birth to their babies outside the hospital, most of them at home.
There is also an enormous financial benefit deriving from the usage of solar energy. Haiti’s energy production is solely based on the combustion of diesel fuel, which is imported by the neighbor country of Venezuela. The only solution for the people of Haiti, besides diesel, is burning coal and wood, an activity that has reduced the overall tree presence in the country to a frightening 2%.
The significance of this endeavor cannot be overstated. Haiti’s students and pupils will now be capable to study even during hours when the sun has set. The absence of light in the vast majority of the country’s neighborhoods will be replaced by clean, cheap and environment friendly light. This is an example that every county in the world must follow, in order to be able to offer the highest quality of life to its citizens.
Gordon's expertise in the area of industrial energy efficiency and alternative energy. He is an experienced electrical engineer with a Masters degree in Alternative Energy technology. He is the co-founder of several renewable energy media sites including Solar Thermal Magazine.