Brighten Haiti Lights Up Local Schools with SMA
In the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, about 70% of schools lack access to basic electricity － an obstacle that makes it difficult to provide even simple instruction to students. That’s why Brighten Haiti is on a mission to bring solar power to 109 schools on the island through its Solar4Schools program, which will dramatically change education for nearly 55,000 students.
About Brighten Haiti and their Solar4Schools Program
Brighten Haiti is a nonprofit organization founded by solar professionals and committed to advancing solar, jobs and education in Haiti. The organization has a unique program through which it repurposes blemished solar modules that still offer high production and would otherwise go to landfills.
“Equipping schools with solar-powered electricity will open up a new world for these students,” said Brighten Haiti Founder & President Kevin Keene. “Efficient LED lighting will help students see better and read, while functioning fans can keep them cool during the school days.”
The schools will have the power needed to operate computer labs and a few other electronics and devices － which means access to the internet and learning apps in some cases. Brighten Haiti will deliver “internet in a box” to more than half the schools so they can access Wikipedia, Khan Academy, and thousands of books in Hatian Creole, French, English and Spanish.
SMA Joins Brighten Haiti on Their Mission
Brighten Haiti chose SMA inverters for this project because Sunny Boy inverters with Secure Power Supply can operate independently of the grid, an important feature in Haiti where electricity is unreliable. This will also help keep costs down － Brighten Haiti will be able to install off-grid solar to schools for less than $1 per watt.
“Our team is excited to support the mission of empowering students with education and resources that propel their options in life,” said Charles Ellis, vice president of sales with for the Americas region, SMA America. “Bringing stable electricity to these schools is going to make a meaningful difference in many lives.”
Most schools will get a 6-kW system with 30 reused modules and three Sunny Boy 3 kW inverters with Secure Power Supply. Each inverter will supply 2 kW of usable electricity for a total of 6 kW. Computer labs will use about 4 kW, and the two remaining kilowatts will power lights, fans and other electronics and devices.
“Because we are building them in modular blocks of 2 kW each, a school can add to it as they have funds,” Keene said.
Brighten Haiti does more than just the installation for the schools. Often nonprofits come to Haiti and leave after the work is done, leaving projects without support if something goes wrong － and Haiti often sees disasters from earthquakes and hurricanes to civil unrest.
But Brighten Haiti trains local men and women to do installations through a Solar Apprenticeship program, and that includes training on maintenance for the system and other skills needed to be lifelong solar professionals.
The project began in January and SMA inverters are expected to arrive in Haiti in March.
Take a look at the photo gallery for inspiring photos on this project. For more information on Solar4Schools visit: https://brightenhaiti.org/
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