Expanding Rural Electricity Access in Haiti

Nearly three-quarters of Haiti’s 10 million citizens lack access to reliable electricity. A primary cause is the nation’s limited and unreliable power grid, which forces many small towns to seek their own solutions in order to provide power to local households, schools and the nation’s growing economic sectors. Through a partnership with Washington, DC-based nonprofit EarthSpark International, USTDA is helping plan and deliver clean microgrid solutions in communities across Haiti.

In 2012, EarthSpark began operating a community microgrid in the southwestern Haitian town of Les Anglais, designing and piloting smart meters the organization would eventually spin out into SparkMeter, an independent technology company. In 2015 the group expanded service and built a solar array with battery storage as the primary source of power. The tiny town was soon enjoying some of the best power quality in the country. To replicate this success across Haiti, EarthSpark turned to USTDA for assistance, and the Agency responded by funding a nationwide assessment of the solar-powered microgrid potential in 89 rural Haitian towns. This process also evaluated essential factors including economic activity, electricity demand and infrastructure requirements.

The study, conducted with EarthSpark’s Haitian-affiliated company, Enèji Pwòp, as well as local universities and a think tank, led to the 2019 implementation of a new solar-powered microgrid in the southwestern town of Tiburon, where 500 homes and businesses now have access to clean, reliable electricity. In addition, the deployment of SparkMeter’s advanced equipment has also enabled greater energy efficiency and stronger resilience in the event of severe hurricanes.

Tiburon is now one of a small handful of communities in Haiti with reliable 24-hour electricity. And EarthSpark now has plans to dramatically scale up its microgrids in Haiti to 24 smart, solar-powered grids in the next four years, to be financed in part by a $9.9 million commitment from the Green Climate Fund.

“Microgrids hold enormous potential to quickly bring electricity to communities across rural Haiti,” said Allison Archambault, President at EarthSpark International. “With local and national government support as well as international cooperation, the launch of the Tiburon grid is a success story for multi-sector partnerships building a market that can scale-up to sustainably electrify the 70 percent of the Haitian population still living without electricity.” 

USTDA’s Acting Director Enoh T. Ebong added: “This project has already helped Haiti vastly expand its microgrid operations, providing more citizens with access to reliable power and clean energy. We are confident that the innovation of U.S. technology will continue to make the decisive difference in Haiti and integrate microgrids in communities throughout the country.”

March 5, 2021