LiveBeyond is committed to using renewable energy sources to sustain base operations. From medical care to powering the Guest House, LiveBeyond is working to become more energy independent for a number of reasons. Primarily, LiveBeyond always seeks to be a responsible steward of our donations, and we currently spend thousands of dollars a month on fuel for our generators. There is not an electrical grid present in our area of Haiti, and the nearest power line only functions for a couple of hours a week. To maintain our operations on our current scale our generators run approximately 100 hours a week, supplying the needs of our equipment and charging our battery bank. Secondarily, Haiti imports all of its fossil fuel from Venezuela, currently a politically unstable country. This instability occasionally results in fuel shortages throughout Haiti and could potentially shut down our entire operation. To combat this, LiveBeyond is moving towards energy independence in the form of renewable energy sources; chiefly solar and wind.
LiveBeyond currently owns 4 diesel generators: one at the Guest House, one for the Clinic, one on a trailer that can be carted back and forth between the clinic and the Guest House in case a main generator breaks down, and a fourth that is undergoing repairs. Generator mechanics are very difficult to source in Haiti, and the parts needed for basic repairs can take months to be restocked. If our generators went down, it would mean that the base could be without electricity for days, causing food to rot, medicines to spoil, and work to slow. On top of it all, each generator requires ~$1000/week worth of diesel fuel to run. The fuel available in Haiti is frequently contaminated, over-priced, and hard to source. As LiveBeyond continues to expand its services, we are working to become more energy independent to decrease the many problems that accompany being dependent upon generators for electricity.
LiveBeyond uses a series of OutBack inverters to convert the electricity from our generators and renewable energy sources into storable battery power. Whenever the generators or solar panels produce more than the immediately needed amount of power, the excess is converted and stored in our battery bank. Once the batteries are filled, the generators turn themselves off and the base is powered by the batteries until they require charging again. Our goal is to increase our battery bank, along with our supply of renewable energy, to have a 24/7 supply of electricity without ever needing to turn on the generators and burn fuel.
Made possible by many generous donations, LiveBeyond has already installed 20kW of solar panels on the roof of the Guest House kitchen and another 10kW at the clinic. These panels charge our battery bank all day allowing us to minimize our generators' run time. LiveBeyond is able to purchase the solar panels in Haiti, and the supplying company sends workers to install the panels. This minimizes the cost of shipping and installation; however, the panels are nearly 300% more expensive in Haiti than in the US. Even though the costs are high, the panels are quickly paying for themselves as we are purchasing less diesel for our generators. As the base continues to expand along with our services, we plan on adding more solar panels as needed.
LiveBeyond is seeking funding for wind turbines. The LiveBeyond base in Thomazeau, Haiti is ideally situated to catch the wind funneling between the mountain ranges to our north and south. The average wind speed at the base is approximately 20 mph, well above the minimum requirements for wind turbines. After much research and discussion with experts, we have decided to purchase two 5kW vertical axis wind turbines. These turbines will offset the majority of the remaining energy demands, allowing us to phase out our fossil fuel dependence even further. One of the major benefits to harnessing wind energy is that the turbines can continue to operate at night and during thunderstorms and hurricanes when the solar panels cannot function. This will bring us even closer to true energy independence. As the base continues to expand along with our services, we plan on adding more turbines as needed. 10kW of wind energy will cost ~$50,000 to purchase, ship, and install.
LiveBeyond has installed 24 solar powered street lamps throughout the base in Thomazeau, Haiti. This has benefited our operations in many ways by allowing us to continue to work after dark, improving our security, and allowing us to have light without needing to run electrical wire all over our 60-acre base. Local children even study under the lights in the evenings. The light towers gather solar energy all day and then turn on with a timer at night, running off of their charged batteries until morning.
LiveBeyond is connecting Haitians with experts around the world to improve the educational services we offer in Haiti. Video conferencing through programs like Skype enable us to connect students with teachers in all manners of subjects. Church ministers, farmers, nurses, dentists, midwives, and school teachers are all able to pass on their expertise to the people throughout Thomazeau, Haiti. Below are some of the video conferencing programs LiveBeyond conducts every week.
- Minister training with The Hills' members Nino Elliott and Kyle Kaiser, as well as Don Thrasher from Jackson, TN.
- Agriculture training with David S. Vanderpool
- Nurses training through ACU's School of Nursing
- Dental training with dentists from all over the US
- Maternal Health lessons are taught in Creole using videos made by American midwives
- Kè Pou Timoun training through educational videos made by American school teachers
A former LiveBeyond intern (Taylor Lowe) took advantage of a program that used NASA satellites to take pictures of our area of Haiti. These images show vegetation density, allowing us to see where the fertile areas around our base are and where surface water is likely to be. It also shows population density, which allows us to focus our outreach efforts where they will be the most effective.