Haiti Pilot Project with EarthSpark International

SUNSPOT™ is proud to announce that we will be collaborating with EarthSpark International on a field trial of on- and off-grid solar-powered electric cooking in rural Haiti.  EarthSpark has been awarded an R&D grant from “Efficiency for Access,” funded by UKAid through the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) program, to evaluate the benefits and barriers to electric cooking as compared with traditional biomass fuels.

Cooking with charcoal
Traditional cooking in Les Anglais

Efficiency for Access is a coalition, scaling up and bringing together a range of programs and support mechanisms to accelerate energy efficiency in clean energy access efforts, driving markets for super-efficient technologies, supporting innovation, and improving sector coordination.

 MECS is a UKAID funded program designed to change the narrative on clean cooking and break out of business-as-usual approaches. The program aims to rapidly accelerate the transition from biomass to clean cooking on a global scale.

EarthSpark’s project will be implemented in Les Anglais, a town near the tip of Haiti’s southern peninsular and includes three major activities:

  • Electric cooking on microgrids – EarthSpark will deploy twenty SparkStove systems with customers on their established solar microgrid.  Each system will include both an induction cooktop and an electric pressure cooker.  EarthSpark will use SparkMeters dedicated to each appliance in order to gather detailed information on how users adapt to electric cooking.
  • Off-grid solar electric cooking — EarthSpark will deploy ten off-grid SUNSPOT™ systems at households which are near to, but not connected to the microgrid.  These systems will also power both an induction cooktop and an electric pressure cooker and will have an extra socket for other small AC loads.  These three loads will be metered separately using SparkMeters.  Each system will be powered by two 350 Wp PV modules and is designed to supply approximately 2 kWh per day.
    The SUNSPOT systems will be assembled in Haiti using wiring kits which are prepared in the US. EarthSpark technicians will be trained in assembly, installation, and troubleshooting in order to provide support for the project.  SUNSPOT will provide in-country support during the assembly and installation of these systems.  Installation is expected later this year or early 2020, and the field trial will last for at least four months.
  • User acceptance – Since conversion to electric cooking goes much deeper than just demonstrating the technology, the project also includes a pre-installation cooking survey, “cooking diaries” to record how people interact with the appliances on a daily basis, and post-project interviews to gather additional information on user acceptance.

EarthSpark is also working towards a series of short film pieces that explore the narrative of electric cooking in Haiti. They will use this media to open the discussion of cooking, culture, and tech between rural Haitian communities and expat communities in the US and Canada as well as stimulating the international development community to consider the co-benefits of electric cooking in places about to get electricity for the first time.  Funding for this activity will come through corporate donors as well as individual donations. Here’s the donation link to the campaign on Global Giving.

According to Allison Archambault, President of EarthSpark, “This pilot has very exciting potential for health and climate outcomes in emerging markets alongside the electricity revolution currently underway. Part and parcel to finding the technical solutions is understanding the anthropological considerations of Haiti’s vibrant cooking culture. I think this has as much potential to change the global approach to rural electrification as EarthSpark’s early work in smart metering for microgrids.”