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Solar-Power Innovations Helping Haiti

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Thursday January 21st, 2010 | 12 Comments

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12th, caused not only a tremendous loss of life, but considerable damage to the nation’s infrastructure.  As people around the world watch the heart-wrenching images coming out of the earthquake ravaged nation, donations are pouring in.

But getting aid into Haiti has been a slow-going process, especially when the lines of communication are interrupted.  Communication is critical in getting humanitarian aid, services and information into the disaster area.

But despite the overwhelming obstacles and destruction, Haiti does have one bright spot – the sun. Besides food, water, shelter and medical supplies, solar-powered devices are also being distributed – many of which will have long lasting benefits beyond the immediate crisis.  Solar lighting, water purification systems, mobile phones, laptops and even Audio Bibles powered by the sun, are all being donated.

Solar-Powered Sun Ovens

On January 28th, Sun Ovens International, partnering with Friends of Haiti Organization (FOHO) and Feed My Starving Children, will send nearly 300,000 meals and stand-alone solar-powered Sun Ovens to Port-au-Prince.

Sun Ovens, insulated boxes surrounded by panels of highly polished aluminum, get hot enough to boil, steam, roast or bake food at temperatures up to 360 degrees F.  One commercial-sized solar oven, which can make 1,200 meals every eight hours, is already in place with two more commercial ovens en route.

A donation of $40 will purchase one solar cooker kit for a family. One hundred percent of all donations are used to send the ovens to Haiti – no expenses are deducted.  Additional shipments of the Sun Ovens are being planned.

Solar-Powered Water Purification Systems

After the earthquake, a solar-powered mobile water pumping and purification system was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed building and moved to the International Red Cross base. The Mobile MaxPure system has been converting 30,000 gallons of contaminated water into drinkable water every day. The mobile system, from WorldWater & Solar Technologies, Inc., also supplies 3.3 kW of electric power for lights, tools or satellite communication systems and takes less than 30 minutes for two people to set up.

And in an effort to send more solar-powered water purification systems to Haiti, WorldWater launched its non-profit WorldWater for Haiti campaign Wednesday.

Solar-Powered Cell Phones

Communication is critical in a crisis. Intivation, which developed solar power systems for mobile devices, and mobile network operator Digicel Group, are sending 1,000 solar-powered mobile phones to Haiti. The phones, equipped with built-in solar chargers, can operate in locations without any electricity. The phones will be distributed to aid workers and survivors. More than half a million of the phones have been sold since launching in June.

According to the company website, Digicel, the largest mobile network operator in the Caribbean, has donated $5 million in cash towards the relief effort.  The company will use two of its private planes to transport the phones and other goods to the area.

Solar-Powered Lighting

Florida-based Sol Inc., is donating more than $300,000 in solar lighting to Haiti. The solar-lights will provide much needed lighting for relief workers who work day or night and will provide additional security as well.   The first shipment of lights will be installed at a medical clinic and orphanage. The lighting systems will also be installed at food distribution centers, relief camps and hospitals. The Tropical Solar Light Systems (TSL), take less than an hour to install and can withstand hurricane force winds.

For each donated TSL, the company will donate a second light as part of the Sol’s Haiti Earthquake Relief Matching Program.

XO Laptops

According to the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) blog, the non-profit organization will be sending a consignment of free, ruggedized XO laptops to aid and reconstruction groups in Haiti. Free solar-charging backpacks are available.

Solar-Powered Audio Bibles

Many of the survivors have lost everything and many thousands are sleeping on the street. Faith Comes by Hearing, a provider of audio Bibles, is offering its own form of hope and comfort to the millions of people affected by the disaster.  It is partnering with disaster relief organization Convoy of Hope to distribute 600 portable, solar-powered Audio Bibles. This device, called The Proclaimer, has a built-in generator and solar panel to charge the battery, which can play for 15 hours. The organization is hoping to donate another 2,500 solar-powered devices.

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▼▼▼      12 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • caseyverdant

    Alternative energy is helping to fuel the rescue and recovery efforts in Haiti. These solar-powered lights, water purifiers, cell phones, laptops, and Bibles are all great green gadgets that can hopefully provide some help in this trying time.
    If you are interested in green gadgets check out http://www.greencollareconomy.com, which has lots of green technologies listings and the largest b2b business directory on the web.

  • Erica Grigg

    I'm writing a blogpost about 'How social media could help Haiti develop sustainably' and using your great information about solar powered devices for communication and development (post up in a few hours).

    Thanks very much!
    @carbonOutreach

  • Terry

    This is the kind of stuff that makes me an optimist. Think about what could be done once the immediate crisis is over? This kind of technology is a leapfrogging tool to a new economy – especially the solar ovens. Haitians have destroyed almost all their forests (one reason why there are so many landslides from rain and quakes) for the purposes of cooking fuel. Give out these solar ovens and that problem gets greatly mediated. And that's just one example!

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  • star4evr9

    Hopefully something good will come out of this immense trajedy and solar power will have a lasting benefit for the future of the people in Haiti.

  • MarianoApologeticus

    The audio Bibles are a blessing.

    FYI: I wrote a favorable mention of them and a refutation of atheist condemnations of them here:
    http://www.examiner.com/x-34463-Albuquerque-Chr….

    Meanwhile, atheists internet wide are taking umbrage at this while not bothering to note that FCBY is teamed up with another org and are supplying food for the body and soul.

    For the past few years atheists worldwide have literally wasted enormous amounts of money during times of recession, war and poverty not in helping anyone in any material need but in order to purchase bus ads and billboards attempting to demonstrated just how clever they consider themselves to be; and now they want to become the charity police please!

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    I'm happy to see that people get good benefits from the power of the sun and using it as a source of energy especially on tragic times like earthquakes.

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    Really good to see the benefits provided by technology powered by the sun

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    Solar Lighting in Haiti- ADRICOM (Agency for Development and Innovation of Commercial Resources) supports foreign enterprises in exploring investment opportunities in Special Markets.

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  • Janetaylor

    So how can we get a solar panel for MamaBabyHaiti outside of CapHaitian, it is a birth center with no reliable electricity to enable operations there.  PLEASE help us out!  

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