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Haiti - Technology : The largest solar project in Haiti
01/05/2012 10:58:45

Haiti - Technology : The largest solar project in Haiti
The hospital of Mirebalais the largest public university hospital in Haiti outside the capital which will open its door fall 2012; will offer services available anywhere else in the country. Covering an area of 180,000 square feet, the new hospital will include among other : six operating rooms, an outpatient clinic with 20 consultation rooms, large naturally ventilated waiting area, an emergency room, a room for medical records, laboratory, pharmacy, administrative offices... The hospital, run jointly by Partners In Health / Zanmi Lasante (PIH/ZL) and the Ministry of Health, offers the particularity of being the largest solar energy project in Haiti.

With 1,800 panels providing 400 kilovolt-amperes (KVA) of electricity, Mirebalais now houses the largest solar energy project in Haiti. The electricity generated will power the hospital during daylight hours and, importantly, save PIH a great deal of money on the utility bill that it can put to use for patient care. Based on current energy prices in Haiti, the panels will pay for themselves in less than three years. The use of solar energy is one of the many innovative components of the Mirebalais Hospital that, in aggregate, set the stage for providing a higher level of care and treatment to the citizens of Haiti.

The use of solar energy is not new to PIH. The organization uses solar energy at its 60-bed Lacolline Hospital in Haiti, Centre de St Michel in Boucan Carre. These projects demonstrate that sustainable energy is not only possible in resource poor settings, but preferable.

Paul Farmer, PIH Co-founder has declared, "unlike diesel generators frequently used by aid agencies, solar energy requires very little ongoing maintenance. You don’t need to do scheduled engine maintenance and filter replacements, you just need to keep out the birds so that they don’t nest in the panels. In its current design, this system can provide 25 years of trouble-free power."

The solar panels used in this project are manufactured by Solectria Renewables LLC of Lawrence, Massachusetts, a partner of Sullivan & McLaughlin on previous projects, and were chosen for their durability. Once the system is up and running, the public will be able to track the yield of solar power at the hospital online.

Overall, the project represents an important step forward in the use of sustainable energy in relief and reconstruction projects. Experienced aid workers are often accustomed to the noise, smoke, and expense of generator power. While solar power is cleaner and more cost-effective in the long run, restrictions by government and international donors often make it difficult for aid agencies to switch to solar power. Through its solar projects, PIH "shows what can be done," says construction team member Jack Manderson.

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