As the world watches and contributes relief assistance to the Caribbean country of Haiti following the earthquake that ravaged it on January 12, energy supplies will play a key role in the recovery effort.
So what does Haiti normally do for power?
The United States Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration shows that Haiti has absolutely zero oil and gas production, and that nearby Trinidad & Tobago is the biggest hydrocarbon producer in the Caribbean.
Though the country also uses relatively little energy, Haiti's energy intensity has been on the rise since the mid-90s, more than tripling to 1,298 BTU per $2000 of economic output.
Haiti's economic output has been extremely low in any case, keeping its status as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
As the United States marshals resources and equipment, the large machinery and ad hoc emergency stations that are set up throughout Haiti will require massive amounts of fuel. Since there is no electricity, generator power will provide most of the light and power for the country for the foreseeable future, and of course automobiles and other petroleum-fueled vehicles will need gasoline and diesel to run.
Today's problems require immediate solutions, and we at Energy and Capital encourage you to contribute to the Haitian disaster recovery effort in any way you can. Looking forward, though, we hear many commentators on television and in the news talking about how Haiti can help itself more in the future, whether with better building codes or more robust relief systems.
Renewable energy can and must be a part of reshaping Haiti for better economic and energy health.