Big solar-plus-storage project helping Haiti reduce diesel consumption and power prices

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The Inter-American Development Bank has issued a request for expressions of interest as it seeks consultants to define a tender process for two large scale solar power and storage projects in Haiti.

The solar-plus-storage plants have been planned by the Haiti government – with backing from the the U.S. Agency for International Development – and will be built at the Caracol Industrial Park (PIC) clothing factory complex in the northeast of the country.

The industrial park is powered by a 10 MW heavy fuel oil and diesel power plant and consumption is highest during work hours – from 7am-5pm, Monday to Friday – according to Inter-American. “The cost of energy paid by customers depends mostly on the cost of importing the fuel and the administrative burden,” said the development lender. “This rate is high and it represents a new challenge for the sustainability of the PIC, especially in the event of an increase in fuel prices.”

Offsetting fossil fuels

The planned projects, which will have generation capacities of 8 MW and 4 MW, will partially offset thermal fuel from the existing plant as well as providing back-up power for industrial park clients and other energy users.

The 8 MW facility will be connected to the park’s grid and will have priority dispatch for its clean energy ahead of that produced at the thermal facility.

The larger installation will also sell any surplus solar energy generated above what is needed by a new entity being created to manage the thermal plant and solar-plus-storage projects.

“An industrial tariff will be implemented into the PIC, having two components: a solar component mainly reflecting the cost of AO&M [administration, operation and maintenance]; and a thermal component reflecting the cost of fuel,” stated the consultancy tender document published by Inter-American. “IDB [the Inter-American Development Bank] and the government of Haiti strive at offering a tariff of about $0.16/kWh for industrial consumers to keep the PIC attractive for the tenant companies and prospective investors in Haiti.”

Storage

The planned 4 MW plant will supply electricity to neighboring communities through the entity established to manage the new set-up. Both plants will have a single, independent operator and sell power through a power purchase agreement with the new management company.

No technical specifics were released about the storage aspects of the solar plants with the tender document stating only that they would be used to bridge short-term power fluctuations.

Haiti had only 3 MW of installed solar power generation capacity at the end of last year, according to International Renewable Energy Agency figures. In 2017, the government exempted solar modules and inverters from import duties and in recent years, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes have afflicted the nation, taking their toll on the island’s infrastructure to the extent only one in three households are connected to the grid. In rural areas the figure falls to 5%.