Over the past few months, the Pan American Development Foundation’s (PADF) Haiti office has been working to install solar panels to replace diesel-powered generators. On December 7, the panels became fully operational. Program Coordinator Maya Sterling spoke with Haiti Country Director Cédrelle Jean Louis to learn more about the new system.
What factors led your team to decide it was time to install solar panels?
Haiti has been facing severe challenges in the energy sector, resulting in inconsistent power throughout the existing electricity grid. In September 2022, the government announced the end of fuel subsidies, causing the price of fuel to double. Rising energy prices led to violent protests and road blockages, impacting access to the port and preventing fuel distribution. Given this combination of events, PADF made the decision to install solar panels to have greater energy autonomy and reduce administrative costs. This strategic decision was also driven by a desire to reduce the organization’s greenhouse gas emissions, in alignment with PADF’s climate accountability efforts.
Can you describe the system? How many panels are there and what is the battery storage capacity? Is there a backup generator system?
We installed the following equipment:
Was there resistance to this decision? If so, how did you convince people this was the right thing to do? If not, why do you think people got on board so quickly?
There was no resistance. The increase in fuel costs and fuel shortages had a significant impact on office operations and program implementation. Solar panels were the only solution under these extreme circumstances.
How did you work this out with your landlord and how did you identify the engineers to install the system?
The landlord was open to the project since the beginning. He was initially concerned about cost, but once we told him that PADF would pay for the new system he was more than happy to offer support and make suggestions.
We identified the companies that have this expertise and sent out a call for bids. Quotes received were analyzed with the support of two engineers and a final selection was made.
What advice would you give to another PADF office that wants to go solar?
It is worth making this investment. Keep in mind that the life of the solar panels and the performance of the system depend on the quality of the equipment and installation. Choose a company that has deep knowledge of and expertise on solar technologies. Make sure the engineers selected come from an accredited solar company that allows a testing period before fully validating the system.