27 July, 2022 Member article

First Haitian homes energised with promising clean technology

Local energy developer, Alina Eneji, has deployed “Mesh-Grid” technology from ARE Member Okra Solar to provide sustainable electricity access in rural communities who can not be connected to the Haitian national grid.

15 July 2022, Dulagon, Haiti – 300 households in rural Haiti have been equipped with Okra Solar’s innovative Mesh-Grid technology. The innovation was designed to address the financial and maintenance challenges of off-grid electrification. The Haiti-based Off-Grid Electricity Fund (OGEF), co-financed by the World Bank, provided USD 230,000 to local Haitian project developer, Alina’s Enèji, to deploy this project. This is the second Okra Mesh-Grid that has been deployed in Haiti. With 61% of Haitians currently without energy access, this project highlights the progressive work of ANARSE (the Energy regulatory authority in Haiti) in enabling modern technology to solve the ongoing issue of energy poverty.

Four years since the first Mesh-Grid, Okra Solar’s specialised hardware and software is now being used to address the energy access struggle in Haiti, Nigeria, Cambodia and the Philippines. The company’s latest project in Dulagon, Haiti, is part of a phased scale-up that could potentially reach a further 4,700  households within the country –  representing a positive leap toward achieving Haiti’s national electrification targets.

Without electricity, the community in Dulagon were reliant on wood and charcoal for cooking; women spent up to three hours per day collecting wood for stoves which have been linked with numerous medical complications due to their polluting fumes. Household air pollution is the fourth most serious health risk factor in Haiti; in 2016, Haiti Priorise, the Canadian financed research project found indoor pollution caused one in ten deaths within the country.

To kickstart the transition to clean energy, Alina Enèji provided families with two light bulbs and one fan, free of charge to every household being energised via Okra’s Mesh-Grid. Households can also purchase additional appliances, such as rice cookers and refrigerators as part of their energy package. Stakeholders in the Haitian energy sector are eagerly anticipating the results of this 300-household project as its success could uncap off-grid electrification efforts across the nation

Afnan Hannan, Co-Founder and CEO of Okra Solar, commented:To achieve energy access for all, it’s time that we explore alternative technologies to overcome the challenges of energising rural communities.  Millions of people in Haiti are living in dispersed communities where it’s not economically viable to extend the national electricity grids nor to deploy traditional centralised solutions like mini-grids because the cost of distribution infrastructure is simply too high. Mesh-Grids are a fully decentralised technology that enables standalone solar to be deployed on rooftops and interconnected to provide energy to clusters of households in power sharing Mesh-Grids. This can be set up rapidly, in the hardest to reach areas and managed remotely with IoT.  The decentralised approach makes the system more resilient to natural disasters and single points of failure, which allows for modular scalability.  With 100% solar power, Mesh-Grids are accelerating the transition to clean and affordable energy for last-mile communities around the world.’’

Driko Ducasse, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Alina’s, commented:I am pleased to help bring much-needed electricity to a part of Haiti. I would like to give thanks to the support and cooperation that I have received from the local Mayor of Dulagon, from ANARSE, the regulator, who has supported this pilot, from Okra Solar for helping with the design and implementation, and from OGEF, who are helping fund the project and helped link Alina Enèji with other local partners.