Haiti Earthquake 2010: role in powering the planet
The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere ravaged Haiti Earthquake 2010 in this Caribbean outpost many are still living in darkness. Globally 20% of people don’t have access to electricity, in Haiti, it is 75%. Without the alternatives and proper infrastructure, Haiti’s become a testing ground for a DIY power system that could help bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people worldwide who currently have none. It is one of many tentative steps towards a future where solar energy will plan an ever larger role in powering the planet. In one hour the Sun provides the equivalent amount of energy that the entire world uses in a year. This is a story of solar pioneers and the technology they hope will shape the future.
Solar Frontiers, the groundbreaking energy system that will light the homes of people who never had access to electricity before will change their lives now. Until now, the people used kerosene to feed lamps that cost them $10 every month. But the homes are now getting hooked up to a groundbreaking energy system that will light the homes for just one dollar a month. The country’s limited national grid hadn’t made it to the town of leis Anglais. But this town is generating its own electricity in a groundbreaking power system that could provide a template for towns all across the developing world. The system is being pioneered by Allison Archambault, NGO Earthspak International.
It is one of the only handful towns across the world that are 100% powered by solar energy and available with electricity 24 hours a day with smart meters that enable people to pay as you go and top-up their meter and change their access to electricity to meet their needs. This system provides enough energy for this community’s current needs from lighting people’s homes to powering the town’s mill. It is the model that could be the first step on the energy ladder for many others in the developing world. There is the incredible opportunity for innovation in these places that lack infrastructure so when you have no incumbent system it is actually a wonderful opportunity to build a better system, something good for this town. It is replicable in other places around the world that can be build and spin-off the scale.
Global electricity demand is projected to grow almost 80% over the next 25% years with developing countries accounting for the bulk of the increase. The increase in energy supply in the past has been dependent largely on fossil fuels which in many situations still provide the cheapest options but they come with an obvious environmental cost. We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change or the last generation they can do something about it.
There is growing pressure to phase out fossil fuels and deliver cleaner energy, a cause being championed by global organizations like Richard Branson’s carbon war room. What we need to do is to power the world by fuels that are created above the ground. The desire to travel is one example of contradiction between the energy demands of the rich world and concerns about the carbon emissions that result all the more reason for those who profit to take a lead in finding ways is to meet those demands with clean renewable energy. The problem of implementing an entirely new renewable infrastructure is not at all easy especially in countries where non-renewable sources like oil, coal and gas are dominant.
Coleman Alabama is home to Apple Steel, a factory where metal meets muscle behind the manufacturing plant lies a surprise, world’s first off-grid solar powered industrial factory. The visionary behind this self-generating energy system is Chuck Boggs from Ace LLC solar. This plant is now generating its own electricity so its no longer reliance upon the grid, it expects not just the carbon emissions but to cut its energy bills too. Tax incentives schemes are helping businesses like Apple steel to take the plunge but long-term subsidises may not be necessary. The prices of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and gas fluctuate but until recently they have all been a far cheaper option to solar but solar is gaining its influence quite fast with developing years making solar power production exponentially cheaper. Price means nothing without performance and one of the greatest challenges facing solar pioneers is how to make hay when the sun isn’t shining. Tesla founder Elon Musk has developed a new lithium-ion battery technology that is being rolled out as a consumer product. With this one can go completely off-grid, take your solar panels, charge the battery packs and that’s all you use. So, with this new device, we could power a small city, a performance tailored for a mass audience Tesla’s bold claim pointed to a reinvention of the way we power the world. This is actually within the power of humanity to do, still, in infancy, this battery technology already enables upheld still to run its operation day or night. In spite of the entire recent progress solar still only produces 1% of global electricity to become a serious player it needs another game-changing technological leap.