An Unlikely Energy Development Opportunity Emerges in Haiti

Agent-x - May 30 2012, 11:05 AM

According to AOL Energy-com on 30 May 2012,AOL Energy

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An Unlikely Energy Development Opportunity Emerges in Haiti

By Jared Anderson

Published: May 30, 2012
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Essentially starting from scratch, Haiti has a unique opportunity to build the kind of sustainable power generation, transmission and distribution system that could be replicated in other developing nations.

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Although deep poverty remains a challenge, the country's leaders say they are eager to move forward into the twenty first century with governmental and economic stability supported by reliable energy infrastructure.

Haiti is the first independent nation to be formed as the result of a successful slave revolution in 1804. Haiti remained socially and economically isolated for the next 100 years, which severely stunted its development.

That is how Dr. Rene Jean-Jumeau, Haiti's Secretary of State for Energy, set the stage for his lunch keynote address at the recent DNV Kema Utility of the Future Leadership Forum.

There is a wealth of data that show economic development is not possible without energy and the link between advanced nations and access to electricity is very clear.

"Without electricity, water cannot be desalinized or circulated, refrigeration is not feasible, temperature-sensitive vaccines cannot be stored, controlled irrigation for agriculture is not practical, communication is limited, tourism is not attractive, and factories can't operate competitively," Dan Gregory, former chairman of Green Energy Corp. wrote in a white paper describing the Global Energy Model.

A Concept Hatched in NY Looks to go Global

The GEM institute grew organically from an initiative at the City University of New York designed to provide overseas students with the opportunity to attend a sustainable development program at the school.

The idea blossomed into a full master's program that counted two students from Haiti as some of its first graduates

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Program mentor Hillary Brown traveled to Haiti with Gregory in the wake of the January 2010 earthquake to inspect damaged buildings, when they got the idea to design a systematic approach to developing energy infrastructure, and GEM grew out of that concept.

GEM 's mission is to establish standards that deal with energy poverty in Haiti and beyond.

The idea is to "energize developing nations with clean and renewable power, is a holistic and pragmatic model that captures the best ideas and documents the failures," GEM says in its white paper.

Barely 30% of Haiti's population has access to power and many hospitals, factories and city centers rely on diesel generators that require expensive imported fuel to run. Haiti pays an average of $0.35/kWh for electricity, which is high compared to the US average price of about $0.10/kWh.

"New Technologies, New Promises"

The country is faced with several monumental energy decisions

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