As images of protests in Port-au-Prince hit the papers in recent days, we haven't seen much discussion about the underlying reliance on fossil fuels, the way fossil fuel subsidies impact rural households, and just how much people are already paying for low-quality, combustion-based energy.
For context, many low-income households in Haiti are already spending 6-10% of their budgets on kerosene and candles for lighting. Increasing kerosene prices by 51%, as was proposed, would have a very real impact on rural households many of which are already struggling in a difficult economy.
The issues of fossil fuel subsidies and how they impact the poor are complex, but one way to mitigate the impact of reduced fuel subsidies would be to increase clean energy use in Haiti.
In our experience, solar-powered electricity systems can deliver less-expensive, higher-quality energy services to homes and businesses in rural Haiti than can diesel, kerosene and candles - with or without the fuel subsidies. In fact, most homes connected to the Les Anglais microgrid are saving 80% of their household energy budget for lighting compared to what they were spending on kerosene and candles before the grid arrived.
Thank you to those who have reached out to us over the past few days. Our team is safe and working hard to expand clean energy access in the countryside.