By Thibaut Demaegdt -- Back in August, blueEnergy received a kind visit from Paul Cloesen, a Belgian expert in Baptist well drilling, who trained blueEnergy water technicians on this appropriate technology. Paul had previously drilled more than 200 wells in several regions of Nicaragua, but he had never come to the Caribbean coast and the technology had not reached Bluefields.
Paul stayed for a week in Bluefields, during which he helped blueEnergy build the drilling tools and dig the first well. He trained us on all the aspects of well drilling, so that when he left, we felt confident that we could continue drilling wells on our own. Indeed, after Paul left, four additional wells were drilled and have proven to work well.
|Well beneficiary digging while Vince and Paul discuss|
A Baptist well consists of a 2” PVC casing with a home-made PVC hand pump. All the materials are locally available and the drilling tools were built in blueEnergy’s workshop. A 60-foot deep well costs approximately $50 in materials, plus the workforce of a 10-person team during a week. The beneficiaries are highly involved in the drilling process and are also trained on how to build their own pump. In case something breaks, they are, therefore, able to fix or replace it, which will make the wells sustainable.
Baptist wells are deeper than regular hand-dug wells, which makes it possible to pump water from less contaminated layers. Samples will be analyzed by the Health Department to confirm that the water quality of Baptist wells is better compared to regular wells. In a city such as Bluefields where the soils are heavily polluted, this could have important sanitary repercussions.
|Pumping water from a finished well|
This pilot project has been a bigger success than expected: many people in Bluefields have heard of the wells and want one. So far, blueEnergy has not figured out the best way to meet the demand and spread this technology...carry out the whole drilling process, train people to drill their own well, perhaps?
A project for 30 wells in Bluefields funded by French institutions has recently been approved and will start in early 2011. Baptist wells are also a suitable technology for remote communities where the density of population is low and traditional wells are too costly to be considerate as a viable alternative.
By Casey Callais -- It was a long and challenging five days. We arrived after a sun-scorched ride up a jungle river, worked under constant threat of tarantulas, scorpions and a snake locally known as a mata vaca (cowkiller), and shared our rooms with bats and cockroaches that could carry off anyone who dared step on them (well, that part is an exaggeration, but trust me when I say they were BIG). The setting: Tiktik Kaanu, a Rama indian village on the Kukra River, deep in the Nicaraguan jungle. We had set out for the CETAF agro-forestry campus of the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University. The challenge: we had less than a week to install a 1.2kW solar panel system to provide renewable energy to the caretakers' home and CETAF meeting hall. There are no phones, no electricity, no running water and no Home Depot around the corner if we needed extra screws. And of course, no hospital if the mata vaca decided to try his luck on we humans.
|Control panel, battery bank and the donors that made it happen|
Day one one team determined the optimal panel position while the second team began wiring the meeting hall. Day two was spent setting the foundations for the solar array and work began on the control panel. The solar panels were put in an day three, and the remaining days were spent running wires, cutting conduit, installing fixtures and working on the control panel. Needless to say, the days were long and sometimes frustrating. On day four I was thinking how nice it would be to have that Home Depot around the corner for more screws, but we made due with what we had. Before the caretakers had finished preparing lunch, we would run to the river for a quick swim. After lunch, it was back to wiring lights and running conduit, or positioning the control panel and installing breakers.
On the last day as we were finishing up, representatives from the university arrived to inspect their new system. We had installed enough solar capacity and batteries to keep the ten rooms and the auditorium lit up throughout the night. We had given the students the opportunity to do their work later than sunset. The university was thrilled and the caretakers ecstatic. We were exhausted but very happy with the results.
|Solar panels with the meeting hall/dorm behind|
Check out the video in Spanish/English with French subtitles!
RENOVABLES alliance pushing for change
|RENOVABLES working hard on policy change|
By Lal Marandin -- The RENOVABLES alliance and the Ministry of Energy and Mines set up two ad-hoc work groups to address improvements that the Alliance requires be made national legal norms on Renewable Energy production and distribution in Nicaragua. The first ad-hoc work group addressed the unfair legal status of small hydro producers and concessions. The second was a think tank on how to implement feed-in tariffs for renewable energy and focused on a pilot experiment for net metering.
The work session involved representatives of the relevant expertise within RENOVABLES and Representatives of the Ministry at the Department Director level.
blueEnergy has been key in the RENOVABLES alliance's creation and growth, with bE Managua Director, Lal Marandin, serving as Secretary.
Minister of Energy and Mines, Ing. Emilio Rappaccioli welcomes RENOVABLES and pledges his support to work in partnership.
RENOVABLES alliance welcomes its first Executive Driector
By Lal Marandin -- On November 22nd the RENOVABLES alliance hired Ms. Dinora Sandino, its first ever Executive Director who was selected amongst 170 candidates.
Dinora has an extensive experience in the non-profit sector, and has worked the last decade with CARE in Nicaragua on a wide range of development projets.
RENOVABLES meets with HIDRORED.
|RENOVABLES meets with partner HIDRORED|
By Lal Marandin -- Rafael Portal Escobar, from Practical Action Peru and member of HIDRORED, visited the offices of RENOVABLES for a very productive work session on November 22nd. The Ministry of Energy and Mines (Mr. Rolando Reyes) also attended.
By Lal Marandin -- The Nicaraguan Minister of Energy and Mines attended the 2010 Ceremony of the National Prizes for best projects in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. Three winners were distinguished in the following categories: clean businesses, education and community impact. blueEnergy was awarded 2nd place of the latter and received the prestigious ERA symbol, as well as $700.
|Nicaraguan Minister of Energy Emilio Rappaccioli (4th from left), bE Managua Director Lal Marandin (3rd from right) |
and bE National Director Guillaume Craig (2nd from right)
On Monday, December 6, blueEnergy rolled out its 3rd annual Gift of Light: 2,000,000 Hours of Light fundraising campaign. Last year, the campaign raised over $16,500; this year, we’re aiming for $25,000 and we need your help. With every $1 donation equivalent to 80 hours of light, that’s equivalent to an additional 2,000,000 hours of light for our beneficiaries.
The idea of energy is difficult to conceptualize in the industrialized world; it’s viewed as a commodity, a public utility, something we take for granted. And yet, millions of people around the world live without it, using kerosene lamps to light their homes, inefficient stoves to cook with, and no access to communication or health services. On the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, over 75% of the population lack electricity. This holiday season, help us make a difference. Our goal is to raise $25,000 by December 31, 2010.
blueEnergy would like to extend a very special thank to the Gift of Light Ambassadors for their support:
· Alexina Clarke
· Ashley Krupski
· Ashley Rupp
· Chudi Ndubaku
· Gabrielle and Jonathan Clarke
· Janesta and Aaron Edmonds
· Locey Pfeiffer
· Mike Dow
· Ramin Taleghani
We need your help to spread the word. There are many different ways to get involved:
- Donate! http://www.firstgiving.com/giftoflight2010
- Spread the news! Help us increase the bE network by telling friends and family about the campaign and asking them to donate.
- Visit our website to keep tabs as the campaign unfolds.
- Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you for your continued support!