Matt Lucky presenting the potential for wind energy in Haiti at an energy sector stakeholder meeting in Port-au-Prince (Source: Worldwatch).

Last week, Xing Fu-Bertaux and I presented Worldwatch’s Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap work to a conference convened by Haiti’s presidential advisor for energy, Dr. René Jean-Jumeau. The conference, held in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was attended by many of Haiti’s most important energy sector stakeholders and was organized to discuss the future of the country’s energy sector. The presentation was well received, and stakeholders were very interested in our high-resolution renewable energy resource maps.

With assistance from 3TIER – a company that generates GIS maps for solar and wind resources – I presented country-wide maps exploring the potential of wind and solar resources in Haiti. Stakeholders were enthusiastic to learn that nearly all of Haiti has high levels of Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI), which is the type of radiation applicable to solar photovoltaic (PV) development.

A wind resource assessment map produced by 3TIER. It shows good wind potential in the southwest, northwest, and region just north of Port-au-Prince (Source: 3TIER).

Worldwatch’s wind resource maps showed a similarly strong potential, with three regions in Haiti with particularly high wind potential at 5 kilometer resolution: the northwest, the southwest, and the areas just north and east of Port-au-Prince. All three of these locations are conveniently located near population centers, which was one major issue brought up during the conference’s round-table meetings on renewable resource potential.

The round-table meetings highlighted the extremely low levels of renewable development and electrification in Haiti and demonstrated a sector-wide desire for the work that Worldwatch is producing. The resource assessments and recommendations in the Roadmap will provide important tools to help the government and stakeholders address Haiti’s energy challenges.

As of today, there is no grid-connected wind or solar PV generation in Haiti. There are, however, several companies and organizations on the ground distributing small-scale solar PV systems, and there is even one company in Haiti, ENERSA, that designs and manufactures its own solar PV systems. One barrier stakeholders identified to connecting technologies like these to the grid is a lack of detailed data on renewable potential for the country. This data would enable manufacturers and developers to identify optimal sites for constructing larger renewable projects, making it economically viable to connect renewable energy to the grid. One of Worldwatch’s goals in presenting these renewable resource maps at the conference was to show stakeholders where large-scale renewable developments have the most potential.

Stakeholders also mentioned a need to identify specific regions in Haiti that have high potential for multiple renewable resources. Renewable energies like solar and wind are intermittent, so having multiple renewable resources in one location can help diversify a region’s energy portfolio and therefore combat dips in power production that may result from a specific resource’s intermittency. Having a reliable baseload renewable, like hydro, was also identified as a key need to help mitigate the intermittency of other renewables.

Having renewable production near population centers, where energy demand is highest, was also identified as important for Haiti because of its lack of a national grid and the high transmission losses it suffers when electricity has to be transported significant distances. Worldwatch will use its country-wide solar and wind resource maps to identify key locations that are rich in solar and wind potential and also located near population centers. For these locations, renewable resource maps will be generated at higher resolutions, providing the country with the necessary data to plan larger scale renewable projects. Identifying and constructing renewable power plants near population centers will enable Haiti to transition to a more distributed power generation system, helping it to lower its transmission and distribution losses. Électricité d’Haïti (EDH), the company responsible for electricity generation, transmission, and distribution in Haiti, estimates that the nation’s transmission and distribution losses are currently 51 percent.

Stakeholders also identified a need for greater streamlining of information related to renewable energy efforts in Haiti. Several companies, international governments, and organizations are already working on renewable projects in Haiti. Unfortunately, there is no easily accessible database that details completed and ongoing renewable projects and their research in Haiti, leading to duplication of work and frustrations from stakeholders who could benefit from readily available data on renewables. Worldwatch hopes to tackle this challenge by contributing to a renewable project database for Haiti.

Worldwatch’s attendance and participation at the conference will benefit our work in Haiti immeasurably. Not only were we able to generate greater awareness about our project and its goals, but we were also able to connect with the Haitian energy sector’s greatest stakeholders to discuss priorities and learn what steps are needed and achievable in bringing a low-carbon energy future to Haiti.

Matt Lucky is a Sustainable Energy Fellow at the Worldwatch Institute. Supported by the International Climate Initiative of the German Government, Worldwatch currently works on Sustainable Energy Roadmaps for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.

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Caribbean, Haiti, Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap, solar power, wind energy