Solar Panels to Help Light Up the Night for Haiti Earthquake Relief

Courtesy Sol Inc.

The Jan. 12 earthquake that hit Haiti has mobilized relief agencies, who are working around the clock to aid survivors. One thing lacking is electricity. There are reports of people burning tires to light up the night. Solar-powered lights that charge during the day are a better idea, a Florida company says. One thing Haiti still has is sunlight. Sol Inc., based in Palm City, has donated about $400,000 in solar lighting supplies for the relief effort, to allow hospitals, food distribution and relief camps to operate past dusk.

"We know that once our solar lighting systems are installed, we will effectively double the amount of available relief effort time by allowing aid workers and rescuers to work around the clock when previously operations had to cease at dusk," Rick Schuett, CEO of Sol Inc., said in a statement. More lights also will help restore some safety and security to the island country, Schuett said.

Haiti has suffered for years from a lack of reliable electricity. According to the Solar Light Electric Fund, there was no access to electricity in almost all of the Haitian countryside before the quake, and dirty diesel generators provided the available electricity.

Besides the Sol Inc. donation, solar energy also is helping in other ways in Haiti. A South Carolina charity called Water Missions International, has sent 10 water filtration systems to the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The systems can run on diesel fuel or solar power to purify water from lakes, streams and wells, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Sol Inc. says it's working with several relief and government agencies to transport the solar lights from Florida and get them installed in Haiti as quickly as possible. Those involved with the effort include Missionary Flights International, World Vision, Unicef and Hands on Disaster Response.

Sol Inc. also is working to help other companies get solar supplies to Haiti, and is offering to match purchases of discounted, $1,200 solar lighting systems as part of a Solar Lights for Haiti program.

The company made similar efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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