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Sustainable energy for Haiti, Bahamas and Barbados

Tens of thousands of Haitians who lost their homes in Port-au-Prince have left the city and migrated to rural villages or temporary encampments. International aid organizations are currently helping to construct clinics, schools, administrative centers and warehouses in some of these villages, which are located in remote areas without access to basic services.

But even as these new buildings near completion, they lack electricity for lights and basic equipment. Portable diesel generators are not an attractive solution, because they require expensive diesel fuel that is frequently in short supply and must be trucked in over primitive roads that can become impassable in the rainy season.

Now, thanks to funds from a $1.5 million in combined grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the IDB, several of these villages will soon be equipped with stand-alone solar power systems capable of providing electricity to the cluster of support buildings, together with solar refrigerators to maintain vaccines in emergency hospitals.

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a non-profit organization with extensive experience installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Haiti and other developing countries, was awarded the contract to install and operate these systems in the villages and hospitals that have already been identified by the Haitian government. The contractor will also provide maintenance for the systems as well as training during the first year of operation, with the goal of preparing Haiti’s public electricity company to take over maintenance tasks in the future.

Meanwhile, GEF and IDB funds are financing a range of renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) projects in Bahamas and Barbados.

In the Bahamas, the IDB has provided more than $1.4 million in technical assistance to assess the potential in RE and EE, as well as to strengthen the institutions that regulate the energy sector. In addition, the IDB and GEF have approved $1.5 million in grants to implement pilot RE and EE programs in public, commercial and residential buildings in the Bahamas. These programs will use PV systems that are connected to the electricity grid, solar water heaters at the residential level and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to help the phase out incandescent lights. The implementation of the project will begin in July 2010.

In Barbados, the IDB has approved more than US$ 2 million in technical assistance to promote the Sustainable Energy Framework of Barbados (SEFB), which is a central element in the government’s strategy to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The IDB, through GEF funding, will also provide $1 million in grants for pilot projects in the areas of energy efficiency, promoting CFLs and power meters as well as PV systems and micro wind generation.

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