In Haiti, only one out of every eight people has access to electricity in their home. While Haiti’s electrical infrastructure reached 80% of the country as recently as the 1980s, natural disasters, neglect, and lack of economic development have destroyed much of it. Kerosene lanterns, candles, or wood fires provide the only sources of light and heat in homes off the grid, but at a high price: the fuel is expensive or hard to gather, the light is poor, and the fumes cause significant health problems.
With our Ti Soley solar program, a 1.5-kilowatt solar charging station is set up in an accessible community center such as a school, clinic, store, or orphanage in towns without electrical infrastructure. Up to 100 nearby families then pay a monthly fee to rent a battery that they can recharge as frequently as they want. This battery can be used in their homes to run lights, charge phones, and run other devices. Each battery charge lasts from two to seven days, depending on use. The charging station, if properly maintained, will last for approximately 10 years and costs six cents per home per day, or roughly a penny a day per person, assuming an average family of five.
POWERS 100 HOMES FOR 10 YEARS
PER DAY FOR
A FAMILY OF FIVE
Ti Soley is an entrepreneurially-inspired model. Some might call it a non-profit franchise. We start by finding the right local operator for the charging station. A Sirona representative travels to the community, reviews applications, and interviews prospective candidates to find someone that is respected locally, and who runs a community-oriented operation – it could be a school, a cooperative, an orphanage, or a store, but it must be a place that the entire community feels welcome in.
Once the operator is chosen, the program is run completely locally. The monthly fees from participants are paid to the operator. Half of the monthly fees goes to Sirona to pay for maintenance of the unit and expansion of the program. The funds kept by the operator support programs selected by the community.
Each location is self-sustaining. And in instances where traditional electric infratstructure and cost-effective energy come to a community, the Ti Soley station will be moved to serve a community that doesn’t have access.
This program emerged from a partnership between Sirona and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Sirona is eternally grateful to the IEEE and its Community Solutions Initiative for donating over half a million dollars worth of equipment and support that made the pilot program possible.
There are currently 14 Ti Soley units operating in rural Haiti, providing power for 1400 homes. Because there is a great deal of community ownership of the equipment, to date there has been no theft or damage to the units. We plan to add an additional 31 units by 2015, which will provide power to 3100 homes.