EarthSpark International launched its second solar-powered microgrid in Haiti today. The system is the first community-power grid to be approved under Haiti’s new national regulatory body. Building on EarthSpark’s model of community-scale smart solar infrastructure, the grid will serve 500 homes and businesses with 24/7 electricity in Tiburon, a small fishing town in the southern peninsula. The launch marks a major step in mainstreaming microgrid power in Haiti.
“Microgrids hold enormous potential to quickly bring electricity to communities across rural Haiti. For 10 years now, EarthSpark and our Haitian affiliate Enèji Pwòp have been building a foundational track record of clean energy delivery in rural Haiti,” says Allison Archambault, President at EarthSpark. “The launch of the Tiburon grid is a success story for multi-sector partnerships building a market that can scale-rt to sustainably electrify the 70% of the Haitian population still living without electricity.”
To achieve the launch, EarthSpark worked closely not only with the community of Tiburon, but also with local and national elected officials, with the national regulatory authority, the national electricity company, local firms, and with international stakeholders including the US Agency for International Development and the World Bank to inform practical and policy next steps.
“The government is committed to improving electricity access in rural regions by deploying smart microgrids in more than 51 sites. Today, with the collaboration of EarthSpark and Enèji Pwòp, we did it in Tiburon in the South Department. This is the first provisional license for a community microgrid ever signed by the regulatory authority for the energy sector,” said Dr. Evenson Calixte, Director of the National Regulatory Authority (ANARSE).
In addition to being a point of progress for clarification in the legal and regulatory environment for energy in Haiti, the Tiburon grid also represents a point of resilience in the face of natural disasters. Tiburon was hit hard in 2016 by Hurricane Matthew. Though EarthSpark had already secured funding and local support for the grid, the storm brought down pre-existing poles and wires. USAID and the Haitian government provided support to rebuild the distribution system and to complete the full construction of the grid.
The Tiburon grid is a 95kW solar smart grid that offers a clean, 24-hour, and affordable electricity for homes and businesses which had never before had access to reliable grid electricity. The grid has a backup diesel genset – the last genset EarthSpark will install as it transitions to 100% solar power for future grids.
As of today, residents of Tiburon will join a small handful of communities in the Caribbean nation with reliable 24-hour electricity. The grid was funded primarily by the OPEC Fund for International Development with additional support from USAID, The Pan-American Development Foundation, the Organization of American States, and individual donors.
About EarthSpark International: EarthSpark International is a non-profit building business models and integrated approaches that can solve energy poverty. To date, EarthSpark has launched 2 enterprises: venture-backed smart metering company SparkMeter Inc. and Haitian energy utility and retailer Enèji Pwòp. EarthSpark is preparing to scale its microgrid model to 24 Haitian towns in the next 4 years. In 2018, the UNFCCC named EarthSpark’s ‘Feminist Electrification’ methodology a ‘Lighthouse Activity’ Award for its gender mainstreaming methodology, describing it as “a real-world example of what climate action looks like.”