EarthSpark has developed a solar-diesel hybrid micro-grid system that will increase access to affordable, reliable electricity for value-added agricultural processing. By providing technical guidance and facilitating access to financing, EarthSpark will assist agribusinesses in upgrading to efficient electric mills. The project first focuses on breadfruit crops that rot due to lack of processing. Converting fruit to flour or chips extends the shelf life and increases its value and marketability.
Seventy-five percent of Haiti’s population lacks access to electricity, and farmers frequently lose value of their crops for want of infrastructure and processing equipment. Where processing facilities do exist, they are typically diesel-powered and expensive to operate. This imposes a severe limitation on farmers’ ability to process agricultural goods, maximize the value of their products, and improve their livelihoods.
CLEAN ENERGY SOLUTION
EarthSpark has developed a solar-diesel hybrid micro-grid system that will increase access to affordable, reliable electricity for value-added agricultural processing. By providing technical guidance and facilitating access to financing for local partners, EarthSpark will assist agribusinesses in upgrading to efficient electric mills so the processing of rice, sorghum, coffee, and corn can be modernized. The project first focuses on breadfruit crops that typically rot due to lack of processing. Converting the fruit to flour or chips extends the shelf life by months and significantly increases its value and marketability.
EarthSpark International is a U.S.-based, nonprofit organization with over four years’ experience working with communities, businesses, and government to bring energy access to Haiti’s unelectrified population. Through its local brand Enéji Pwóp, EarthSpark is an established and recognized brand in Haiti with the track record and infrastructure to scale up its clean energy and micro-grid activities. For this project, EarthSpark has partnered with the Haitian agro-processing company Entreprises La Foi.
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Haitian agro-processing businesses
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In May 2015, EarthSpark energized the grid, expanding service to 430 households and businesses in downtown Les Anglais; connecting these customers to grid electricity for the first time. The newly installed grid is powered by a state-of-the-art hybrid generation system including 90 kW of PV capacity, 400 kWh of battery capacity and a small diesel backup generator. EarthSpark has developed a town-scale distribution system which includes a medium-voltage line, standard electrical installation, and use of next-generation smart meters. In late September, an efficient, electric mill was installed in Les Anglais and started operation. In August, EarthSpark also helped a women-run cooperative in the area start a corn de-kernelling business that uses clean, microgrid electricity to de-kernel corn cobs in a region with ample corn production. EarthSpark recently began testing breadfruit chip production and recipes and is in discussions with local partners on expanding production.
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By reducing agricultural waste and enabling value-added processing, the project will boost agribusiness incomes as well as provide surrounding residents with access to electricity, through a pre-paid smart metering system. The project will demonstrate a sustainable business model for operating a local micro-grid, for agribusiness’ upgrading to efficient electric mills, and for breadfruit processing.