blueEnergy Newsletter: Energy Globe Award / Operator training / New office space / Presidents... and more!
2007 Energy Globe Awards (in may 2008)
As mentioned in our last newsletter, blueEnergy was selected as the winner of the Energy Globe Awards 2007 for Nicaragua.
Lâl Marandin and Matthieu Poulet accepted the National Energy Globe Award from the hands of Maneka Gandhi in the hall of the European Parliament, in Brussels (Belgium) on May 26th. During the event Lâl and Matthieu had the chance to meet President Gorbachev, Secretary General Kofi Annan, and European Parliament President Mr. Hans-Gert Pöttering.
The highlight of the event for blueEnergy came when Energy Globe Jury member Mr. Don Baker of the Foundation for Sustainable Development chose blueEnergy as the #1 example of Best practices for the American continent.
Former French President Jacques Chirac launched the "Chirac Foundation" on June 9th at the Quai Branly Museum auditorium, in Paris, France. One of the priorities of this newly formed institution is the protection of endangered languages around the world. blueEnergy Board Member and permanent insipiration, Mrs Colette Grinevald, was a keynote speaker during the event. Colette is a world famous linguist specializing in the documentation and rescue of indigenous languages, in particular in Brazil, Bolivia, Guatemala and Nicaragua, where she has been working on the Caribbean coast since 1984.
blueEnergy attended the event and met with several of the guests. The blueEnergy team in attendance was composed of blueEnergy France Board Members André-jean Guérin (French Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development), Maïté Niel, Lâl Marandin and Matthieu Poulet and blueEnergy France interns Solène and Olivia.
The event’s guests included : President Chirac, Nobel Prize winner (2002) Rigoberta Menchu Tum, French writer E. Orsenna, Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand and several former African Presidents and United Nations officials.
Visit by head united nations representative in Nicaragua
blueEnergy received a visit by a top-level United Nations delegation including Nicaragua’s head representative Mr. Alfredo Missair. The delegation visited blueEnergy’s workshop and office facilities to study its model for potential future replication on the Caribbean Coast and beyond. Mr. Missair called blueEnergy’s work "pioneering" and said blueEnergy’s work was "vital and in line with the Milleneum Development Goals".
Photon Consulting is a leading consulting company in the solar PV arena. Photon Consulting recently gave blueEnergy a general grant and placed blueEnergy at the center of fascinating industry-wide wager over solar PV production in the year 2010. From Michael Rogol of Photon Consulting:
Rogol’s monthly market commentary June, 2008: We are forecasting more than 25 GW of solar cell/module production in 2010. Nearly no one agrees with this outlook. If you disagree, let me suggest a bet:
If there is less than 25 GW of cell/module production in 2010, I will make a donation to blueEnergy, a non-profit organization dedicated to solar installations in developing countries. If there is 25 GW or more, those who take this bet will make a donation to RAG Foundation, an organization supporting, among others, German coal areas as they transition to post-coal times. To sign up to this bet, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first operator training organized by blueEnergy took place in Nicaragua between the 6th and 10th of May. 13 operators from 4 communities gathered to learn all the secrets of the maintenance of their own community blueEnergy energy system.
The sustainability of blueEnergy hybrid systems rests in the hands of the community and of the operators that maintain the system. In this regard, this operator training was a big step for blueEnergy.
Prior to the course, a manual with the explanation of all the maintenance operations was made. Writing this operator manual was a challenge as blueEnergy had to adapt to the operators different levels of education, ranging from illiteracy to the primary school teacher. The first 0.1 beta version of the manual got printed just in time for the operator course. It contains as much explanatory drawings as possible as well as photo-sequences to explain different maintenance operations without too much need for reading the captions. The course in itself mimicked the operator manual by keeping the theory to the minimum and putting the emphasis on the practice.
Everyone in the blueEnergy team got involved to make this training a success. The local workers got recruited to teach the practical courses with the aim of creating stronger links between them, the long term blueEnergy staff, and the operators. The volunteers managed the theoretical courses requiring the most experience while the new team members joined the operators in their learning experience.
The training week finished with a mini-graduation ceremony. The vice director of INATEC, the technical high school system of Nicaragua, came to Bluefields in person to hand each participant an official certification. Indeed the whole course was done in agreement with INATEC so that the certification received at the end of the training is recognized nation wide.
At the end of these 5 intense days, the operators left Bluefields with a certification, a manual and a lot more knowledge useful for their whole community. But that was only the beginning. Other operator trainings are coming up. either on-site in the communities themselves or in Bluefields like this one. Always with the same aim: transferring as much knowledge as possible to the communities we service via their operators so they can develop in the most sustainable way possible.
Between the 4th of April and the 23rd, blueEnergy teams spent between one week and two weeks in Kahkabila and Set Net Point. This was the first time since the installations about one year ago that such big teams left for such a long time to these communities.
For the first time non blueEnergy people were joining the adventure. Three sociologists from the feminist department of the University URACCAN integrated into the sociological team of blueEnergy for the two weeks. Together they conducted two different studies: a diagnostic on the communities’ organizational capacities, for which the URACCAN women were the lead and a baseline survey on the energy needs and demand, for which the bE team was the lead. Both studies were conducted first in Kahkabila and then in Set Net, meaning that the surveyors spent two weeks on the field, with a night break in Pearl Lagoon in between.
Meanwhile, technical teams of blueEnergy carried out some follow up and maintenance on the systems. Those teams were composed of local technicians and international volunteers and switched in the middle of the trip, one being assigned to Kahkabila and the other one to Set Net Point. In both communities, they installed needed equipments for the energy system. They also organized on-site training for the members of the energy commission and interested members of the communities. In Kahkabila, a survey aiming at helping with the realization of the operators’ manual was conducted by the technical team. The logistics of a two weeks trip with a switch of teams in the middle was challenging. This gave the opportunity to define the procedures for organizing such logistics.
Water workshop In May, blueEnergy partnered with Canadian organization Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) to give a workshop on bio-sand water filtration technology in Bluefields, Nicaragua. Andrea Roach of CAWST led the workshop attended by blueEnergy technicians, local technicians, and university personnel. blueEnergy is launching it’s water purification initiative and this workshop represented the first step in this direction.
Plans have been set in motion for the design and construction of a “Centro Ecológico Regional Capacitación Ambiental” (CERCA) over the course of the next several years. The center will be built on the INATEC-IPCC campus in Bluefields and will house conference facilities, blueEnergy offices, sustainable systems and hospitality training facilities. At the same time, the building itself will provide a functional example of sustainable building and living practices and be entirely self-sufficient. The overall scheme will include wind and solar power, composting toilets, rainwater collection and purification, greywater treatment systems, natural lighting and ventilation. Over time, the same building principles will be utilized in the design and construction of CERCita structures in the outlying communities to house energy and water purification systems as well as doubling as shelter for volunteers and visiting experts.
New office space in Nicaragua
After a whirlwind set of meetings in Managua a few weeks ago, blueEnergy Nicaragua Director Guillaume Craig received permission from the INATEC head office to transform an unused classroom on the IPCC-INATEC campus in Bluefields into an office and conference room for blueEnergy’s use. At the same time, he was informed that the curriculum commission for all of INATEC would be arriving on June 16th to commence working in said office on a reorganization of INATEC’s energy curriculum. Having exactly two weeks to complete our renovations, we hit the ground running as soon as returning to Bluefields. Well, as soon as we got the key that is.
Over the course of nine days starting last Thursday, all the workers from the workshop and several volunteers worked around the clock to clean out, secure and refurbish a rundown classroom and bodega into a full office and conference room with adjoining kitchen and bathroom. We finished up the final touches around 12:30am on Sunday night and woke up to a beautiful new office in time for the arrival of INATEC’s curriculum commission.
French film makers David Guionet and Xavier Ballandras of Seven Art Productions were in Nicaragua in May to film for a new, full-length documentary on blueEnergy: it’s origins, programs and vision for the future. They were joined by sound-man Quentin, and spent three weeks interviewing blueEnergy team members and visiting community installations. The details for the release will be forthcoming.
Mentor education program
This summer blueEnergy has started its first mentorship education program, partnering with La Mesita, an NGO from New Mexico, as well as Grupo Fenix, an NGO based at the technical university in Managua. Two college students, one from a technical college in New Mexico and an electrical engineering student from the technical university in Managua will spend July and August working on projects in the blueEnergy workshop in Bluefields. The goal of this project is to provide college students the opportunity to participate and contribute to real world projects having positive impacts on peoples lives, as well as participate in the exciting cultural exchange that fuels blueEnergy’s work. The students will work with mentors in the workshop, and their learnings will culminate in a presentation made to the blueEnergy staff at the end of the program, integrating methods of oral and visual teaching appropriate for knowledge sharing among the varied educational levels of blueEnergy team members.
blueEnergy will also be installing its first standardized datalogging station on the workshop’s test tower, which will record meteorogical data concurrently with turbine power production. This marks an important step towards critically analyzing blueEnergy’s evolving turbine designs.
XII Feria de Energia Renovable y Vida Sostenible In April, a blueEnergy team led by volunteers Maxime Goursaud and Charles d’Argencé attended and presented at a major renewable energy fair in Managua hosted by Grupo Fenix, a solar energy nonprofit organization working in conjunction with the National Engineering University (UNI)
blueEnergy mourns the loss or community leader, visionary, Neuman Puchie
Neuman Puchie, leader of the community of Set Net, blueEnergy champion and person friend to us all, died unexpectedly while on a trip to the capital city of Managua. Just one week before, Puchie had captained a boat full of blueEnergy staff to the Pearly Keys to celebrate the successful water purification workshop. Puchie was the reason blueEnergy ever came to know the community of Set Net. He was often the captain that brought us there, the first to help unload the boat, the one to house the blueEnergy teams, and the first up in the morning making everyone coffee. He had a hand in every step of the blueEnergy project in Set Net and was the community champion.
The entire blueEnergy team was in shock at the news of his passing. Puchie will be sorely missed and the community of Set Net now has a mountain to climb to get back on its feet.
Tribute to miss Nora
In May, Colette Grinevald, famed linguist of the Rama language and blueEnergy Board Member, paid tribute to Miss Nora, the primary Rama language speeker that helped Colette in the documentation of the Rama language. Miss Nora passed away from cancer over five years ago. Events included a ceremony at the cemetery where Miss Nora is buried and on the island of Rama Cay, capital of the Rama peoples.
Miss Nora in Eugene, Oregon speaking about the Rama Language Project
Activities in France
• blueEnergy at the "Salon des Solidarités 2008"
- blueEnergy had a booth at this major nonprofit aid organization event in Paris; the booth was staffed by many former blueEnergy Nicaragua volunteers and was one of the most active booths at the entire event.
- While blueEnergy did not win the prize of the "Salon des Solidarités" (=5000€), the event was a tremendous networking success.
• Sunday, June 15th: Former volunteer in Nicaragua and active member of blueEnergy France, Adrien Ortelli, made a presentation of blueEnergy at the "Festival Mondial de la Terre" (World Festival of the Earth) in Bercy, Paris, France.
• blueEnergy begins program in Parisian schools to promote renewable energy: - Saturday May 24th: blueEnergy hosted a workshop at the Levassor school to build small model wind turbines that light up LED lights
- Saturday May 31st : blueEnergy took students of the Levassor school to visit a windturbine in Brittany, France
• Monday, June 9th: Rana, a consultant from business consulting company ENEA led a very creative, structured brainstorming session (method: "cadre logique") about the needs in Africa in order to frame the discussion of blueEnergy expansion into that continent.
• Maïté Niel on France Inter Radio
• Colette Grinevald was featured on Europe 1, Radio France International (RFI) and France Culture, with Maricela Kauffman, in may
• Solène Le Tallec and Olivia Lemerle have started 6 month internships with blueEnergy France
Telemundo visits blueEnergy in Bluefields... Associated Press visits blueEnergy in Bluefields...