Haiti RELAY: A Cost-Effective and Portable Solar Home System for Rural Haitian Regions
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Haiti is a Caribbean country located next to the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola. Currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti suffers from a lack of energy infrastructure leaving over 7.4 million people without power. The electrification rates are the worst in the rural, mountainous regions of Haiti where in 2013 only 15% of residents had access to electricity. The Georgia Institute of Technology’s Haiti RELAY team was created in 2015 to help spark the growth of electrification rates in these regions through the development of a simple, cost-effective, and portable solar home system called the “Haiti RELAY”. This fully-integrated solar charge controller device was designed through a data-driven approach to provide a consistent means for house lighting and phone charging. In May 2018, the Haiti RELAY team travelled to enact the Haiti RELAY pilot program in the mountains of Thoman, Haiti. As a part of this program, 25 families acquired a RELAY and agreed to provide feedback to help the team understand the efficacy of the design and the necessary improvements for moving the product towards full-scale production. This paper details the energy situation in Haiti, construction and functionality of the Haiti RELAY, and the results of the 2018 mission to Thoman.