Even before this year’s devastating earthquake destroyed much ofHaiti’s infrastructure, the country was plagued with energy problems.
Only 25% of the country had access to the meager energy resources, and nearly half of that electricity was being stolen.
Those citizens that were able to afford it paid a hefty premium: Onaverage, Haiti pays about four times what electricity users in theUnited States pay.
That could mean up to 30% of a Haitian’s earnings were spent onrudimentary power — mainly candles, kerosene, and timber. And since wood serves as the country’s principal energy source, Haiti has clear cut over 98% of the nation’s tree cover.
So, to say that Haiti has a serious, long-term energy emergency on its hands would be an understatement.
One company is seeking to take that fractured situation and providethe framework and software solutions to achieve 100% renewable energy in the country.
That company is Colorado-based Green Energy Corp. They have beenpioneers in the smart grid market for over 25 years, providing softwareand engineering services to over 100 utilities.
The firm has also developed what they say is the first universal plan designed to provide developing nations with renewable power.
They have dubbed the pilot project the Global Energy Model, or GEM.
When company founder Daniel Gregory witnessed Haiti’s devastationfirst hand as part of a philanthropic envoy, he decided that it was anideal place to launch GEM’s first pilot project. That one tripeventually led to the partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative(CGI), with the goal of developing a GEM Working Group to make theproject a reality.
The island nation has a number of unique characteristics which makeit an ideal location to launch and implement GEM. What Haiti lacks ininfrastructure, it makes up for with natural resources…
“They have the sun, wind and water that can be used to generateelectricity in a renewable way,” Green Energy Corp. CEO Peter Gregorytold me in a recent interview.
GEM would operate something like this…
Let’s look at the hard hit capital of Port Au Prince. Instead ofbuilding one 120MW coal plant to feed fossil fuel power around the area, GEM imagines twelve 10MW solar plants surrounding the city, eachfeeding into a smart grid. And because Haiti is a mountainous country,the differential in elevation makes Pumped Hydro Storage a clean andefficient supplemental energy option.
The model also incorporates a biomass plant, a wind farm, andvehicle-to-grid generation. By focusing efforts on a distribution modelthat would link smaller-scale renewable sources together closer to theload, Green Energy Corp claims that they can reduce the costs oftransmitting energy. Plus, the model offers an opportunity for Haitiansto set up small wind or solar farms, creating jobs and energy.
And since the Pumped Hydro Storage needs man-made lakes to storewater, villages could be constructed around the lakes — providingimproved irrigation and an attractive alternative for displacedHaitians.
The conceptual figure below shows what Port Au Prince could look like under GEM (click image to enlarge).
Enter the Green Energy Corp’s software platform — GreenBus — whichpromises to coordinate the generation from all of these renewablesources.
What makes the software revolutionary is that it’s open sourcetechnology that can be used on any control system. While traditionalcontrol systems are complex and use proprietary software for controlfunctions and communication, GreenBus is based on open standards and all of the software is published to an open-source community.
“Let’s say that if before you had 25,000 control centers in the US,you’d have another 25,000 different software configurations. It’s simply not efficient,” Gregory said. “We need a ubiquitous solution so everyone can plug and play.”
Gregory is the first to admit that this is an ambitious project. But the company has found partnership in all the right places.
“Haiti just has that charisma that we need to get people off thedime. We have the ear of everyone that can make a difference there,”Gregory added.
In addition to the CGI, the GEM Working Group consists of some bignames — both public and private — including the Department of Defense,the Department of Energy, the UN Environment Programme, Duke Energy, and EarthSpark International.
When I asked him how long such an endeavor would take, Gregoryadmitted that it was hard to say. The plan now is to phase the projectbeginning with an 8-hour daytime power and gradually build up to a 24/7, 100% renewable energy system.
If successful, Green Energy Corp. hopes Haiti will serve as a modelfor other developing countries — places like Ethiopia, Sudan, Pakistanand the Congo.
“My personal belief is that, five years would be too long. But itneeds to happen, there are so many issues in the world today, it’s lifeand death, it’s water… it’s humanity,” Gregory stressed.
“These things need to happen, and nothing should be holding us back.”
U.S. Company Joins with Clinton Global Initiative for Ambitious Project originally appeared in Green Chip Stocks. Green Chip Review is a free 2x-per-week newsletter, is the firstadvisory to focus exclusively on investments in alternative andrenewable energies.