EarthSpark’s Participant Power : Smart Solar Microgrids

About Solution

EarthSpark is a non-profit enterprise working with communities in Haiti to build smart, solar-powered electricity grids. Affordable, reliable, local electricity unlocks economic opportunity, improves health, and shows the way forward for clean, resilient, and participatory energy systems worldwide.


Clean energy microgrids in rural communities can quickly deliver the benefits of the ‘big grid’—without waiting for the big grid to arrive—and with a higher degree of local ownership and participation. EarthSpark’s community-scale grids in Haiti are large enough to power small industry while progressive enough to offer accessible service to every single resident living within the infrastructure’s footprint. For those living beyond the grid, EarthSpark’s enterprise ecosystem continues to support local entrepreneurs in the sale and support of stand-alone solar products.


“De-risking by Doing” – Innovation to Solve Energy Poverty


EarthSpark’s ‘De-risking by Doing’ approach has been expanding the perception of what is possible in the field of energy access. We have so far launched two companies (SparkMeter, a smart meter company with equipment now installed on over 150 grids in 25 countries and Enèji Pwòp, a Haitian microgrid operations company) and we are currently working towards a third spin-off, Participant Power, a microgrid development company which will build its first 20 microgrids in Haiti.


Why EarthSpark?


EarthSpark has an established track record both of microgrid development in Haiti and in launching successful energy access enterprises relevant to the rest of the world. EarthSpark has been working on energy access in Haiti for nearly 10 years, and the EarthSpark team – with deep technical and community engagement experience – knows how to get things done.


Why Haiti?


Over two thirds of Haiti’s population has no access to electricity. This puts Haiti among the least electrified countries in the world, but because of its location in the Americas it remains largely overlooked by the energy access community. A small country with high energy costs and densely populated ‘downtown’ areas of rural towns, Haiti is an ideal candidate for robust community-scale microgrids. EarthSpark’s national microgrid market assessment found 80 towns would be good candidates for this kind of microgrid. These town grids would be excellent solar lantern and SHS distribution and service points for the more spread-out rural populations surrounding these towns.


Why Now?


With electrification named as a key presidential priority and with $30M of World Bank funding teed up for off-grid energy in Haiti if the policy environment can be clarified, now is the moment to truly define the process for building microgrids and – from the ensuing real project data – to build a regulatory framework that enables microgrid development and sustainable operations.


Participant Power : Ground-up, authentic collaboration


In December 2018, EarthSpark won a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change "Lighthouse Activity" award. EarthSpark's 'Feminist Electrification' approach was one of 15 winners that the UN highlighted as “Practical examples of what real climate action looks like.”


Feminist Electrification is one aspect of EarthSpark’s deeply participatory approach to energy infrastructure development and operations.

 

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