SolarWorld solar blog

Hospital of Light Part 2: Solar is Good Medicine

Posted 29 July 2016 12:00 AM by Jody Murphy, Director of Operations & Project Management – Smucker’s Energy

Read part 1 | Read part 3

Four hours into our journey in Haiti from the airport to the hospital, horns have honked endlessly. Unlike anywhere else I’ve traveled, there is no break from the economic distress, no sections of town that let you forget, even temporarily, that you are in the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.

SolarWorld solar system in Haiti installed by Smucker's Energy. People in the city.

The improvised city turned to distressed towns and villages weaved between hillsides and sea shore. Densely populated even in the rural areas there seems to be people in motion everywhere. Motorcycles zip by often with 3 people or more piled on along with occasional livestock along for the ride. Tap Taps, little psychedelic painted capped pickup trucks work as taxis filled to the brim, but always seem to have room for “just one more”. 

SolarWorld solar system in Haiti installed by Smucker's Energy. Crowded truck on road.

Trucks with cargo rocking from side to side workers swaying atop. Every time you turn your head you expect to see an accident for the speed at which so many precarious packed loads of cargo and people fly by each other uphill’s, and around bends. 

SolarWorld solar system in Haiti installed by Smucker's Energy. Delivering supplies.

Thankfully we’ve avoided that experience. Happy to see the ocean now on the left side of our vehicle a sign we were told meant our journey was nearing the end. Shortly after the road turns to dirt and rock which means we are only about 10 miles from The Hospital. This last few miles takes forty-five minutes to get up the mountain as we creep along the rocky washed out trail. A few hundred yards after passing through the gates of the hospital we come to a stop in front of the guest house that would be our home for the duration of the install. Stiff and road weary we all were grateful to be at our destination and for the dinner, so kindly prepared by the Haitian cook employed by the Hospital.

Construction of the power room for all the inverters. SolarWorld solar system installation on Haiti Hospital. Installation by Smucker's Energy.

Following dinner we all walked with surprising energy to the install site exploring the roofs and newly built power room; confirming all, but one crate arrived intact, we headed to bed. Much of the first day was spent opening the crates and staging materials for the roof and power room followed by reviewing drawing sets with an eye for anything that might not match. 

Construction of the power room for all the inverters. SolarWorld solar system installation on Haiti Hospital. Installation by Smucker's Energy.

On the roof the first task was to begin the layout and become familiar with the Everest S Dome racking chosen for the job as the best fit for the concrete roof, but not used by Smucker’s Energy to date.

Solar racking installation. SolarWorld solar system installation on Haiti Hospital. Installation by Smucker's Energy.

Downstairs in the power room, uncrating the modular racking units, measuring and getting these attached to the concrete floor, walls and ceiling was first priority. We were all extremely happy to see the effort of creating these units worked as planned and would save us a great deal of time on site.

Unpacking the components needed for the SolarWorld solar system installation on Haiti Hospital. Installation by Smucker's Energy.

Completed solar power room. SolarWorld solar system installation on Haiti Hospital. Installation by Smucker's Energy.

However, day one was not without a few surprises, but nothing that wouldn’t be addressed by resourcefulness and sweat. Haiti is short on many resources, but manpower isn’t one of them. High spots in the concrete roof began falling under the chisel and hammer of local volunteers eager to see the roof filled with solar panels.

SolarWorld solar system in Haiti installed by Smucker's Energy. Installing racking.

SolarWorld solar panels getting unloaded for installation on Haiti Hospital. Installation by Smucker's Energy.

On site at this point was the core group from Smucker’s that would make both trips: John Smucker, President and Owner of Smucker’s Energy, acting project foreman; NABCEP certified master level electrician, Angelo Melasecca heading the power room install; Linford Zimmerman, PV Technician heading the roof installation; and myself, Smucker’s Energy Operations Manager, acting project manager. 

This core crew arrived two days before the remaining volunteers in an effort to streamline things and make the most efficient use of time. The days went quickly and followed the same routine, in communal fashion, reminiscent of summer camp with everyone rising together, sharing meals…and bathrooms; and the days play/work filling the hours between meal bells.

Visit the Smucker's Energy website

Read part 1 | Read part 3

Archive