This report by Alan Mickelson appeared in energybiz.com.
HAITI POSSESSES SIGNIFICANT renewable energy potential: full solar irradiance occurs 300 days a year, predictable daily trade winds on the coast are funneled through mountain passes, and streams and rivulets run down from the mountains that form the interior of the country. The Haitian government is offering energy credits for installation of green energy up to a total of $200 million. Numerous aid and nongovernmental organizations are further priming the green energy pump with investments. A problem lies in the investment in human capital. Haitians need to be trained so that the country as a whole can profit from green energy, and that is the ultimate goal of the Green Energy and Vocational Training for Haiti (VTH) project.
The project is a collaborative effort of faculty and students of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Neges Foundation of Leogane, Haiti, that prepares Haitian students for careers in renewable energy. The effort is funded by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the University of Colorado Outreach through the Mortenson Center for Engineering in Developing Communities under the direction of Alan Mickelson and Michael Hannigan.
The VTH project has engaged a team of three undergraduates and four graduate students. To complete an engineering project in a country without a power grid is a challenge for aspiring engineers who are more accustomed to a university laboratory. The “Train the Trainers” format – in which local instructors are trained by the Boulder students on essential knowledge and skills – offers ample opportunity for engineering graduate students to ply the trade of teaching.
In the United States, we are accustomed to plentiful and inexpensive electrical power, but the energy grid in Haiti has never reliably served more than 10 percent of the population. The earthquake of January 2010 so severely damaged what there was of that grid that only scattered and disconnected remnants remain. With reports of nearly 70 percent unemployment within the country, construction of a grid would seem an ideal public works project. The only grid that has ever existed in Haiti is in the southwest near the capital of Port au Prince. One of the pushes of the reconstruction has been to reverse the trend of population concentration in the Southwest that began in the ’70s and continued through the ’90s. Current energy projects must supply their own power in environmentally sensitive areas that are rugged and lack a grid. A wise option for power for further development is green energy, and the VTH project aims to provide Haitians with the necessary tools to harness renewable energy sources to meet power needs.
For the original report go to http://www.energybiz.com/magazine/article/281621/green-haiti