There are two things that the renewable energy community can do to help Haiti rebuild after the earthquake. One is to donate, like many already have to UNICEF, American Red Cross, Partners In Health (PIH) or any other reputable organization that provides relief efforts. The second is providing mid- to long-term relief during the rebuilding phase, which could also have the added benefit of healthier air for Haitians long into the future. Currently, there are 13 kW-worth of SELF solar panels in a warehouse that were meant to power two clinics. Now, those panels are to be rerouted to field hospitals being set up near Port-au-Prince. The short-term use of renewables in Haiti is centered around health care, and could be integral in setting up tent or mobile health clinics. There are 10 PIH health centers that SELF plans to power in the coming years. The industry must also supply either cash to purchase systems or the raw materials to set up those systems. Sunpower, Dow Corning, Good Energies, SolarWorld, Solar Liberty, Bosch Solar, Solar Outdoor Lighting and Trojan Batteries have already contributed to SELF via the Array of Life program. However, more will be needed to help Haiti achieve a long-term sustainable future.
To donate to Haiti relief efforts…
SELF is a 20-year-old non-profit group helping to light up underprivileged countries with renewable technologies. SELF has helped over 20 countries and does more than solar, including drip-irrigation. Visit the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) for more information.
As an added bonus to the industry, a move like this would generate plenty of press coverage and help validate renewable technologies as a relief and rebuilding option for other countries coping with a disaster. Though, at present, this is hardly a motivational factor for many, considering the more humanitarian reasons to get involved.