Brighten Haiti, a 501c3 nonprofit founded by former Heliene sales manager Kevin Keene, will install solar systems on 109 schools in rural Haiti, beginning in 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 devices.
In light of the 7.2 earthquake, followed closely by tropical storm Grace, that hit an already vulnerable Haiti, the need for rural off-grid solar systems has come into even more stark relief. A PV system on a local school can provide the surrounding area with a source of electricity when an area is cut off by disaster.
In 2019, prior to founding Brighten Haiti, Keene helped install solar at a rural school in Durissy, bringing electricity to the school for the first time.
“We have been able to make contact with people in the Durissy area after the earthquake. The bridge to their area is out. Thankfully they have access to independent electricity for lighting and refrigeration,” Keene said. “It shows us just how important these systems are beyond the impressive impacts to education.”
Brighten Haiti has created a bridge between areas in need in Haiti and the U.S. solar industry. Through the organization’s Solar Re-USE program and partnerships with the solar supply chain, paired with Brighten Haiti’s successful solar apprenticeships, the organization is able to provide both training and significantly reduced cost solar PV systems to schools.
“I’m thrilled that we have found a way to install PV systems for schools in Haiti at a fifth the typical 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 that same system installed at 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 complete,” Keene said.
To date, Brighten Haiti has worked with several U.S. solar companies to ship nearly 4,000 PV modules to Haiti. However, the need for solar equipment far outstrips what has been donated to Brighten Haiti. To meet the organization’s ambitious goal of 109 solar systems, Brighten Haiti is actively looking for additional resources and partners to procure solar modules and balance of system equipment at 75% of normal pricing. Business and individuals can get involved by donating equipment or by sponsoring one or more schools. For more information, or to sponsor a school, interested parties can reach out: brightenhaiti.org.