This blog post first appeared in the EarthSpark year end newsletter. If you would like to receive updates directly, please join our mailing list.
Whoosh – what a year! There’s been a lot to absorb and adapt to. But – deep breath – the sun still shines. Good things are happening alongside the bad.
In the face of overlapping crises, we turn to what we can do. Thankfully, the EarthSpark and Enèji Pwòp teams seem eternally up for the task!
New Thinking on Powering Healthcare
“Who would have thought that gang violence in Haiti would provide such a powerful unintended advertisement for solar energy?” An ever-silver-lining colleague asked ironically last month as major hospitals shut their doors to new patients due to a lack of diesel. The national fuel shortage brought the country to a stand-still in many ways, and critical services closed or were severely curtailed.
That was months after the August 14 earthquake had also highlighted the value of local, fuel-free energy systems. Through each of these crises, when other energy systems stopped working, EarthSpark’s solar-powered microgrids continued providing power.
EarthSpark has not previously provided energy services to health facilities, but the earthquake shook the team’s thinking on the topic. We now view it as essential.
In Tiburon, the health center’s independent solar system went dark the day of the earthquake, likely due to a combination of old equipment and limited ongoing maintenance. When the nun running the facility called EarthSpark seeking help, the team acted quickly, pulling parts from inventory on hand to replace a broken component and restore power. It was a first tiny step in a new strategy of engagement and assistance for health facilities. The new plan combines microgrid power with onsite solar + battery storage for critical community service providers. We’re still working out the details, but we hope to have the Tiburon health facility connected to the Tiburon microgrid and serving as a first example early in the new year. Read more on our plan here.