Nonprofit asks for help with ambitious solar installation program in Haiti

Brighten Haiti, a 501c3 non-profit founded by former Heliene sales manager Kevin Keene, will install solar systems at 109 schools in rural Haiti from January 2022. Each rural school will receive a 6 kW solar PV system, providing enough off-grid power for computer labs, lights, fans and additional appliances.

In light of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake and closely followed by Tropical Storm Grace, which hit already fragile Haiti, the need for off-grid solar systems in rural areas has increased even more. A PV system at a local school can provide electricity to the surrounding area when a disaster closes an area.

In 2019, before founding Brighten Haiti, Keene helped install solar power at a rural school in Durissy, bringing electricity to the school for the first time.

“After the earthquake, we were able to connect with people in the Durissy area. The bridge to their area is out. Fortunately, they have access to independent electricity for lighting and cooling,” Keene said. “It shows us how important these systems are in addition to their impressive impact on education.”

Brighten Haiti has built a bridge between needy areas in Haiti and the US solar industry. The organization’s Solar Re-USE program and partnerships with the solar supply chain, combined with Brighten Haiti’s successful solar learning places, will allow the organization to provide both training and significantly cheaper solar PV systems to schools.

“I am delighted that we have found a way to install PV systems for schools in Haiti at a fifth of the normal cost. The generosity of our solar partners has made it possible to install a 6 kW off-grid system for about $6,000 where we would normally see the same system installed for about $30,000. That’s $1 per watt, installed. And we are able to provide installation training, giving people access to solar jobs after the training is completed,” Keene said.

To date, Brighten Haiti has partnered with several US solar companies to ship nearly 4,000 PV modules to Haiti. However, the need for solar equipment far exceeds what has been donated to Brighten Haiti. To meet the organization’s ambitious target of 109 solar systems, Brighten Haiti is actively seeking additional resources and partners to purchase solar panels and system equipment at 75% off the regular price. Companies and individuals can participate by donating material or by sponsoring one or more schools. For more information or to sponsor a school, interested parties can contact: brightenhaiti.org.

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