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Back-Up Power Installations Meet Critical Energy Needs at Haitian Health Facilities

In Haiti, USAID is implementing the Improving Health Facility Infrastructure (IHFI) project, focused on providing reliable electrical power to hospitals and clinics throughout the country.

The project has two fundamental objectives:

  1. To help resolve immediate problems due to poorly performing or non-existent back-up power systems; and
  2. To implement model installations that will provide a basis to teach, guide and replicate quality installations throughout the country, based on consistent designs and operating protocols.

USAID worked closely with two entities from the Haitian Ministry of Health: the National Reference Laboratory, and the PEPFAR Project Management Unit, which prepared a priority list of Haitian health clinics with critical needs. One-day energy assessments were performed at 10 sites as part of an initial screening. The hospitals or clinics were ranked in terms of need, based on a number of criteria, including:

  1. Condition of the current inverter/battery system
  2. Relative importance of the hospital; number of patients served
  3. Priority sites as suggested by National Lab and National Plan.

Based on qualitative criteria, seven sites were selected and included in the first phase of installations. These sites were visited again in January 2009 to obtain detailed data and documentation in order to develop the design specifications. All systems were designed based on an Outback inverter, and either Trojan or Rolls Surrette batteries. Design elements and installation protocols were clearly defined from the beginning, and consistent among all installations.

Of seven systems installed in 2009, six were simply inverter/battery back-up systems and one a hybrid solar PV-diesel generation system including a 5 kW solar PV array. The key piece of equipment in these back-up power installations is the inverter/charger, which in one mode converts alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) in order to charge the battery bank from the grid or a generator. Then while operating in back-up mode, the inverter takes DC energy from the battery to supply AC loads in the hospital or clinic. A number of different inverters have been used in Haiti over the years with varying success. System designs under the USAID Improving Health Facility Infrastructure project have standardized around the Outback inverter, which uses a modular approach to design and offers flexibility, easy repair and reliability.

In each health facility, the electrical loads were divided into three categories:

  1. No-contact loads (sensitive loads requiring clean power, never to be in contact with the grid or a generator, but always taking quality power from the inverter)
  2. Contact loads to be backed up (critical loads, fed by grid or generator power when available, but connected to the battery bank when no outside power is available)
  3. Generator/Grid-only loads not to be backed up (regular loads, fed by grid or generator power when available, and off when there is no outside power).

To increase local Haitian capability to properly design and install these systems, the seven installation projects were tendered competitively to five pre-qualified local electric contractors. The evaluation committee conducted a best value evaluation of the bids received and selected three firms: R&P Services, a company focused largely on inverter/battery installations with successful previous USAID experience; Elmecen, S.A., a medium-sized company with 10 years of experience in electrical designs and electrical installations of all types throughout Haiti, and Green Energy Solutions, a small company with over 5 years of experience working on solar electrical and DC installations.

Under the supervision of USAID, these three companies were contracted to install and commission the inverter/battery systems in the following seven hospitals. In one hospital, the Centre de Santé de Borgne, a PV array was added to accompany the existing system, to provide an additional means of charging batteries

LocationFacilityEquipment installed

Département du Nord

Hôpital de Grande Rivière du Nord

2 inverters (1 contact and 1 no-contact); 48 V battery bank of 660 Ah.

Hôpital Universitaire Justinien

4 inverters (3 contact and 1 no-contact); 48 V battery bank of 1,200 - 1,300 Ah.

Département du Centre

Hôpital de Hinche

4 inverters (3 contact and 1 no-contact); 48 V battery bank of 900 - 1,000 Ah.

Hôpital de Belladère

3 inverters (2 contact and 1 no-contact); 48 V battery bank of 660 Ah.

Département du Nord-Est

Hôpital de Fort-Liberté

3 inverters (2 contact and 1 no-contact); 48 V battery bank of 660 Ah.

Centre Médico-social Ouanaminthe

3 inverters (2 contact and 1 no-contact); 48 V battery bank of 660 Ah.

Département du Nord-Ouest

Centre de Santé de Borgne

5,000 watts of solar panels; 3 inverters (2 contact and 1 no-contact); 48 V battery bank of 660 Ah.

The installations were completed by July 2009 and have already improved power system reliability in Haitian medical facilities in a sustainable way. In addition to providing uninterrupted power supply to sensitive laboratory equipment, vaccine refrigeration, computers and servers, USAID is ensuring that all operators responsible for the systems as well as clinic medical and laboratory staff receive proper training on the use of these systems. To that effect, two training videos were produced:

haiti youtube properuse

Video: How to Properly Use Your Health Facility's New Power Back-Up System

A nine-minute training video for health facility managers and employees to ensure that power back-up systems are used properly, cared for, maintained, and respected. This video covers the basic explanation of the battery/inverter system and includes a helpful "DOs" and "DON'Ts" list. (In Haitian Creole with English subtitles.)

haiti youtube installuse

Video: How to Properly Use, Install and Program a Typical Battery/Inverter/PV System

the technical points of wiring, installing and programming a typical battery/inverter system, including regular maintenance tips. This video is intended to complement a more detailed training course on how to install a battery/inverter back-up power system for hospitals and clinics. (In Haitian Creole with English subtitles.)

All systems were delivered with a maintenance contract for the first six months of operation to ensure they functioned properly and satisfactorily. USAID is working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to develop sustainable maintenance capabilities in the different health facilities. To this end, technician training programs are being designed to build local knowledge and develop a basis for accountability for system operation and maintenance.

USAID continues to work with the Haitian Ministry of Health to carry out additional energy assessments, and develop a list of next-generation installations.

The Powering Health Stories blog brings you current trends in the worlds of health, energy and development, as well as features on current work being undertaken by USAID.  If you have a story that you would like us to cover or one that you would like to contribute, contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. !