MICROGRID FOR RURAL COMMUNITY
LES ANGLAIS, HAITI
In developing countries, improving agriculture, public safety, education, health care, and communication depends on reliable access to power. Despite the proven benefits of stabilizing a community through electricity access, many energy authorities are hesitant to invest in rural electrification. In late 2012, EarthSpark International launched Haiti’s first micro-utility, EKo Pwòp*, to provide electricity to the village of Les Anglais, where residents had previously relied on kerosene lamps for light. By October of 2013, EKo Pwòp served 54 customers, including a school and several local businesses, through a pre-paid utility service. These 54 customers only required about 1kW of power, which was supplied using excess capacity from the nearby telecom tower, owned by the company Digicel. This initial grid development allowed EarthSpark to accumulate significant feedback on its model, and soon others in the community joined the waiting list for expanded grid service. Through a USAID (United States Agency for International Development) grant, “Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development”, EarthSpark was able to fund a massive microgrid expansion. With the funding in hand, EarthSpark was in search of a partner to design a clean energy system that would meet their needs, while also considering the cultural challenges to working in an underdeveloped area.
To move forward in the Les Anglais pilot project, EarthSpark needed to partner with an experienced company that could not only design and engineer such a system, but also follow through with expertise in hands-on involvement, installment, integration, and maintenance support. They also needed a system that was modular, reliable, and scalable and could withstand the travel and environmental challenges. Because EarthSpark’s long-term goal was to use Les Anglais as a replicable model for providing access to reliable energy in other parts of Haiti, they also required a company that would act as a partner, standing by the project from start to finish. Finding a company with a proven track record in all these areas was the next step in this project. Ultimately, EarthSpark determined ZeroBase Energy LLC was the partner they were looking for to provide a turnkey solution.
In 2010, following the disastrous Haiti earthquake, ZeroBase was able to donate two H-SERIES™ systems to the rehabilitation efforts through the Make It Right Foundation. This donation would pave the way for continuing involvement with bringing reliable and renewable power to the largely rural citizenry of Haiti. In 2014, ZeroBase began working closely with EarthSpark in partnership with the Haitian Government, local officials, USAID, and the UN Environmental Program, to build and install a town-sized, solar-powered smart grid that serves 430 households and businesses. The smart grid is powered by a state-of-the-art hybrid generation system that was designed and integrated by ZeroBase Energy, LLC. The 100kW modular hybrid microgrid system, that was officially commissioned in June 2015, includes 90kW of PV solar array, 400kWh of battery storage, and a small standby diesel generator. All of these elements communicate using smart inverter technology, which helps conserve generator use. ZeroBase designed, engineered, and manufactured the microgrid hybrid system in Detroit, then traveled to Haiti to install and integrate the system with the SparkMeter technology smart grid. Most importantly, the model that includes the ZeroBase modular turnkey microgrid is replicable, meaning small towns and villages now have a model that will give access to locally-generated, affordable, reliable, and sustainable power anywhere it is needed.
100 kW system powering a market, agricultural processing, and 430 homes in Haiti
5 kW H-SERIES mobile systems for community energy access and schools at Ciné Institute, Jacmel, Haiti, 2010
“In Haiti, only 25% of the population has access to electricity, and most for only a few hours a day.” – President Michel Martelly
“This solar hybrid grid is the first of its kind in Haiti. It is a very good model and should serve as a pilot to allow Haitian students and technicians to strengthen their capacities for rural electrification and microgrid [work].”
– M.Marc André Chrysostom, Energy Coordinator for the Ministry in Haiti
In June 2015, the complete system was officially inaugurated at a celebration in Haiti, followed by a soiree in D.C. The partnership of EarthSpark and ZeroBase resulted in clean, reliable, affordable electricity from a grid that can serve as a model to be refined and replicated in other rural towns across the country. The ZeroBase microgrid is currently powering over 400 homes and businesses in Les Anglais and is serviced by SparkMeter smart meters which enable customers to prepay for electricity. ZeroBase continues to offer support as needed to EarthSpark International and the people of Haiti.
ZeroBase’s involvement in Haiti does not end with the Les Anglais microgrid. With 75% of the population of Haiti currently lacking electricity access, there is still much work to be done. The small electricity grid in Haiti suffers daily outages and electricity rates are some of the highest in the world for service that is erratic at best. In a culture where the average person only earns about $1-$2 per day, these rates can be a devastating obstacle to accessible power for many people. This townsized, solar-powered, smart grid can serve as a clean, affordable, reliable electricity model to be refined and replicated in other rural towns across the country.
EarthSpark spun off SparkMeter Inc, a company that is now commercializing smart meters for grid operators in developing markets around the world. ZeroBase looks forward to future partnerships with EarthSpark and other organizations to bring reliable and clean energy to remote areas. Creating scalable power solutions that are adapted to the needs and constraints of each community is how ZeroBase aims to build and support communities around the world.
ZeroBase is the leading innovator in renewable and hybrid distributed power products, specializing in remote off-grid systems that deliver power to some of the most rugged locations on the planet. ZeroBase solutions reduce the cost and risk of fossil fuel dependence for government and commercial customers, including the U.S. Department of Defense. ZeroBase is owned by Pegasus Strategic Partners, LLC. Pegasus manages approximately $2.2 billion in assets.