blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


This Year’s Midland Experience

By Andreas Karelas - For the third year in a row, blueEnergy has sent a team down to Los Olivos, California to teach the sophomore class at Midland High School how to build a wind turbine from scratch. The workshop is part of Midland’s innovative “experiential week” where students tackle hands-on projects to complement their classroom learning. Each year the sophomores stay on campus to spend the week learning about renewable energy and to install a 2.5 kW solar array.

Mathias Craig, blueEnergy Executive Director, attended Midland (class of 1996) making it all the more meaningful for him and for the students. Now that we’ve been down there the last three years, those of us who are returning blueEnergy team members feel right at home when we get back to Midland. It’s many of the same friendly faculty faces that work with us year after year, who house us, cook for us and take care of us while at Midland.

This year’s sophomore class of 23 students was double the size of last year’s class and required a few tweaks in the program. We also incorporated last year’s feedback to improve the content and organization of the workshop, making it run ever more smoothly.

This year’s workshop featured six blade-carving stations where students built two complete blade rotors, a magnet station where every student learned about the power of rare-earth Neodymium magnets and a coil winding station where students wound, soldered and wired up a stator for the wind generator.

The team consisted of Mathias Craig, Executive Director, Tim Kent, intern in the San Francisco office, Andreas Karelas, former blueEnergy volunteer in Nicaragua, Jamie Sebora, photographer extraordinaire and Mathias’ classmate at Midland, and Garett Maggart, the woodworking champion.

Led by Lise Goddard, head of Midland’s Environment Program, the Midland faculty members are also getting more familiar with our workshop and were able to play crucial roles in organizing and teaching the students everything from blade carving to coil winding to magnet placing.

In the evenings, our discussions this year focused more on off-grid renewable energy systems, climate change, the importance of appropriate technology, and blueEnergy’s experience in Nicaragua, and less on the physics theory that the students will see in the classroom next year as juniors. The students were very engaged every step of the way and got deep into thinking about how energy is generated and managed and the tremendous impact it has on our lives. This will serve the students well as they continue their studies and think about the impact they want to have on the world outside of school.

With excellent food, good company, a group of students that were eager to work hard and take ownership of their projects, a supportive faculty, and a stellar blueEnergy team, this year’s workshop turned out to be a great success. It even included some intense afternoon and evening basketball games with mixed blueEnergy – Midland teams.

For the first time we assembled all the pieces of the turbine, mounted it on an 8-foot stand and let it spin in the wind. This was satisfying for all of us having put in two days into crafting every component. The turbine generated a record of 14 volts, lighting up a bulb for all to see.

The final night in a summer camp-like manner we gathered around the wind turbine lit up with solar powered Christmas lights and played guitar and sang together to celebrate our work.

Pictures from the workshop can be seen here.

A great time was had by all, and I know the blueEnergy team can’t wait to return again next year.

blueEnergy would like to give special thanks to Will and Marguerite Graham for welcoming us on campus, Lise Goddard and all the participating faculty for their tremendous help putting this whole thing on, Jamie Seborer for the photography, Garett Maggart for his exceptional woodworking skills, the sophomore class for their energy and enthusiasm and for their support assembling the workshop materials.

Andreas Karelas is a blueEnergy alum who volunteered in Nicaragua in 2007 working on the initial Monkey Point wind and solar installation.  He now lives in San Francisco and runs a community based solar organization called RE-volv that lets anyone and everyone chip in to help build renewable energy projects in the United States


Promoting Development with Female Producers in Rocky Point

From 22 January to 13 February, blueEnergy worked to increase productivity for a group of women working in the community of Rocky Point, Nicaragua, by installing solar energy and a water pumping system. 

By Pearl Downs -- Rocky Point, a predominantly creole community located about 4 miles from Pearl Lagoon, is a farming community completely off the grid. Thanks to ONUDI, INATEC and FADCANIC, blueEnergy was able to coordinate and execute an innovative project based on renewable energy with an emphasis on gender. About 17 community members of the "Christian Solidarity Producers", mostly women, benefited from a project to improve their agricultural production and hence their living conditions in the community.

This group has been organized and working together since 2009 with the help of FADCANIC who has been assisting with internal organization and for the planting and marketing of organic agricultural products.
Women's Group and blueEnergy team together in Rocky Point
The blueEnergy project was based on the installation of solar PV on the group house and storage building, as well as the installation of a solar pumping system from the house well through a sand filter and into a storage tank. 
Solar panels on the women's group house
Putting finishing touches on the water filtration system

The blueEnergy technical team was composed of Gilles Charlier, George Lopez, Chris Sparadeo, Quentin Nouvelot, and Miles Hooper, who successfully completed the hard work over a period of a little more than two weeks. 
Mixing cement for the storage tank tower
The project stems from a desire to strengthen blueEnergy initiatives that encourage productive uses of renewable energy and water by families impoverished communities in the region. Furthermore, the initiative also helps to strengthen and promote gender equality in our organization and empowerment of coastal womens' capabilities.

This project was implemented by blueEnergy with support from the Renewable Energy Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations and promoted by the Ministry of Energy and Mines of the Government of Nicaragua.


Your Spring Break Adventure Starts Here!

Every year blueEnergy invites university students to escape their comfort zone and join us on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua for a spring break adventure unlike any other. We brave the elements to bring clean water and solar energy to the residents who live on less than $2 a day, we speak Creole English, Spanish and Miskitu, we love our work and we want you to be a part of it.

Raising the solar panels in Rocky Point

This year we plan to continue installing solar panels in Rocky Point, a small creole farming community that blueEnergy has been working with for over a year. The beneficiaries are very grateful for the gift of light and you will see what an amazing difference a few lightbulbs can make in the lives of these families!

Loving the light in Rocky Point

But this doesn't just benefit the families in Rocky Point. You too will see the benefits of the install! Our students will learn the basics of installing solar panels, from determining location to domestic wiring to connecting the control panel and everything else needed to perform small-scale rural electrification. They will learn about the local customs, languages and traditions in addition to getting an up close look at what life is like farming in the jungles of the Caribbean coast!

Students helping locals install solar panels in Rocky Point

But renewable energy isn't the only help that blueEnergy provides. We have a complete Water, Sanitation and Hygiene team that is dedicated to bringing clean water to families by building bio-sand filters and digging wells.

bE director, French ambassador and Corn Island mayor all admiring one of blueEnergy's wells in Bluefields

The blueEnergy spring break itinerary looks a little something like this:

Day 1: Welcome orientation and site visits in Bluefields

Day 2: Water filter construction / WASH course

Day 3: Improved wells site visits and hands-on work

Day 4: Solar class and install preparation

Day 5: Trip to rural community (sleep in rural community)

Day 6: Installations of system return to blueEnergy

Day 7: Reflection sessions and wrap up

Teaching hand washing to children on the island of Rama Cay

Imagine your spring break spent building, installing, teaching, interacting and living the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. This is far from the ordinary and if the extraordinary is what you are looking for, send you application today!


blueEnergy Futbol Team

The blueEnergy staff football team, after a match as part of the Company League in Bluefields. The League, made up of 28 teams, started in early December and will last around 4 months. This is the first year blueEnergy has participated, playing on average one match every three days. While they haven't managed to convince the management that funding team t-shirts is a viable marketing strategy, what they lack in t-shirts they make up for in enthusiasm. Best of luck team bE!


Water and Sanitation Roundup!

By Casey Callais -- 2012 was a big year for blueEnergy's Water and Sanitation, Hygiene team (WASH), but how big was it? And what's in store for 2013? Here is a quick look at the projects and numbers. But first, some background information.

The Water Situation in Bluefields, Nicaragua:

95% of the population lacks clean drinking water

90% of water sources are hand-dug wells

90% of drinking water sources are contaminated with fecal matter

100% of the population lacks a sanitary sewage system

blueEnergy Donors and Accomplishments:

Good Energies helped provide 51 biosand water filters built and installed

Meal a Day #1 helped provide 10 biosand water filters built and installed

See Your Impact helped provide 10 biosand water filters built and installed

An anonymous corporate donor helped provide 100 biosand water filters built and installed

Meal a Day #2 helped provide an efficiency study of the biosand filters

Ile de France / La Guilde helped provide 100 biosand water filters (built and installed) and 30 baptist wells

Meal a Day #3 helped provide 15 baptist wells

Current blueEnergy Projects:
Ensemble Foundation is helping to provide 38 biosand water filters and 10 wells

FHI / USAID is helping to provide 300 biosand water filters

West Foundation and Meal a Day #4 is helping to provide a study on latrines

CDC Developpement Solidaire is helping to provide 64 biosand water filters and 16 wells

Agence de l'eau Artois Picardie is helping to provide 72 biosand water filters and 24 wells

Adour Garonne is helping to provide 55 biosand water filters, 20 baptist wells and 22 latrines

Foro de Agua is helping to provide 6 wells and 35 latrines

Michelham Foundation is helping to provide 44 biosand water filters

Foundation Artelia is sending an expert to work with our WASH team for three months

Add this all up and check out the amazing impact! 

This work equals:
2,129 people with access to filtered water
1,004 people with access to clean wells
468 women and 270 men who have participated in blueEnergy's water and sanitation classes.

It is going to be a busy year for blueEnergy and we are excited to be ramping up our capapcity by bringing on new people and investing in new equipment. You can bet that in 2013 we will double out impact numbers and then some!


blueEnergy France Hosts Wind Turbine Building Workshop

By Pierre Jamault - blueEnergy rendezvoused on October 20th, 2012 in the city of Le Kremlin BicĂȘtre, close to Paris to host a Wind Turbine Building Workshop. Behind the parking lot we discovered a very well furnished workshop with a dynamic team of volunteers waiting to show us how a wind turbine works by building a small one. After coffee, basics instructions were set up: 1 turbine built by 16 people on 7 workbenches in 2 busy days.

During these two days we had to sand wood, wind copper wire, mold magnets, shape metal and weld it. The explanations of the team were so efficient that we even had enough time to listen the presentation of blueEnergy and its activities by co-founder Guillaume Craig.

The variety of needed tools to build the turbine required some explanation in order to not make any mistakes. Thankfully the instructions and indications given by the volunteers, as well as discussions with the other participants, were really enriching. The meals prepared by our host were also great opportunities for other interesting discussions with the participants and hosts.

Welding the body
After all that work and many explanations in a very (too) short weekend, it wasn’t easy to remember everything but the wind turbine mechanism seemed clearer. To sum up: to succeed in wind turbine construction, you have to be a great craftsman, a little bit physician and obviously meteorologist to put it at the good place once it is taken out the workshop.

Carving the blades

blueEnergy France organizes 2 windturbine workshops per year (next one on Spring 2013, contact for more details), with a maximum 12 participants, close to Paris. The windturbines are small models (1 meter diameter), based on the Hugh Piggott model. Although they work well, due to their small size and low power, they are used mainly for learning purposes. We gather people from different backgrounds to attend the workshop: students in renewable energies, retired people willing to know more about the windturbines to build one in their garden and individuals willing to spend an unforgettable week end by working for fun!