blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


Studies of Renewable Energy in Rural Communities

If you aren't already convinced of the role renewable energy can play in the development of rural communities, check out these studies posted by the Alliance for Rural Education: 

Developing and Promoting Renewable Energy on Stanford's Campus

By Mathias Craig - On the weekend of April 23rd and 24th, blueEnergy hosted a wind turbine building workshop at Stanford University. The workshop was organized in conjunction with the Stanford Solar and Wind Energy Project (SWEP). SWEP is a student led organization with the mission of "Developing and Promoting Renewable Energy on and near Stanford's Campus" and 18 of its members participated in the workshop. Helping make the workshop a reality was Phil Homer, a blueEnergy alum who volunteered in Nicaragua for 6 months in 2010 with the wind turbine team and is now a graduate student in the Atmosphere and Energy Program at Stanford.

Mathias explains the woodworking tools

Making up the blueEnergy team were Christian Casillas, Lizzie Reisman, Julie Karel, Peter Lawrence and myself. The workshop opened with an extensive safety training by the Teaching Assistant for the Model Shop (the location of our workshop). I followed this up with by a brief presentation on the design of Piggott-class turbines, before we split up into groups and got busy with our hands.

The workshop consisted of several stations including blade carving, coil winding, stator casting, magnet placement and assembly. Students were free to chose the work that most interested them and many rotated between stations. The goal of the workshop was to learn about locally produceable small-scale wind turbines and to nearly complete a wind turbine for SWEP to have on hand for experimentation and a possible installation in the future. In order to achieve this in such a short time-frame, we had all the metal work pre-done. Unfortunately, after the close of the workshop on Saturday, there was a small fire that damaged the shop's table saw, some of blueEnergy's tools and some of the turbine's hardware (no one was hurt). This created some obvious setbacks, but we adapted on Sunday and worked out in the breezeway and got close to our initial goal. A blueEnergy team will return to the Stanford campus in May for a half-day work session to complete the planned work.

blueEnergy Board member Matt Flannery makes a guest appearance and helps carve a blade

We are grateful to Stanford and SWEP for giving us the opportunity to teach this workshop and hope to be back on campus for another one in the near future.

Workshop participants

blueEnergy work highlighted in New Energy magazine

From New Energy magazine:
For the community living in Nicaragua’s isolated Monkey Point, a three hour boat trip from the nearest hospital (or ten-hour walk if the sea is too rough), renewable energy doesn’t just light homes and power businesses, it can save lives.
The article goes on to highlight the refrigeration system blueEnergy recently installed in Monkey Point:
In this remote location without grid connection, the solar power system is the only way to provide power for a fridge/freezer which can store children’s vaccines, HIV tests, insulin and snake antivenom at World Health Organisation standard. The solar panels also provide power for lighting – essential for safe treatment and childbirth at night in the clinic, as well as powering appliances  such as a nebuliser.
Read more from New Energy magazine...

Midland School sets the stage for renewable energy, personal growth

By Christian Casillas - A blueEnergy team consisting of Mathias Craig, Lizzie Reisman, Andreas Karelas, and Christian Casillas just got back from blueEnergy’s first wind turbine building workshop hosted on US soil. The team spent two days at Mathias’ alma mater, the Midland School (, near Santa Barbara. It was part of a new blueEnergy strategy for raising revenue as well as enlarging blueEnergy’s impact.
Our workshop took up two days of the sophomore class’ yearly energy week, in which the students focus on hands on projects related to renewable energy. Two days is typically not enough time for the inexperienced to fully complete a wind turbine, but the students advanced much further than we expected! By the close of the second day, they had two of wooden blades almost completely carved, all the wire coils wound and soldered for the generator, had practiced magnet placement on the rotors, and built what may be one of the best looking tail vanes we’ve seen (a blue cow in a pasture of grass!). And more than that, the students and teachers continued to stay engaged with probing questions, demonstrating how quickly they were taking in all of the new information.

Placing the free-range tail vane on the new turbine
The workshop also gave us an inspiring glimpse into the life at this rustic little school, and some insight into blueEnergy co-founder Mathias’ early development. The meals in the dining hall were reminiscent of a large family, as students, teachers and visitors all rubbed elbows while enjoying the fresh food. On a nearby chalkboard was a list of the veggies from Midland’s nine acre garden, with asterisks next to those that were currently in production and finding their way into the menu. The steak we ate at an evening barbeque was one of Midland’s own grass-fed cows who wander freely on their 3,000 acre property. Every night before showering, the kids have to load up a boiler with firewood if they want hot water. There is no doubt that these kids are going to have a much deeper understanding and respect for where their energy and food comes from than most urbanites the world over. Upon our departure, the students were digging post holes for 3 kW of grid-tied solar that they would be installing over the next three days, adding to the schools existing 22 kW of installed solar.

A quarter of the staff live with their families in their own little houses on the campus. I saw herds of little ones, from who knows how many families, frolicking together on the soccer field or in the nearby woods every day. One parent, who’d been there 18 years, told me that she loved the integration with students – she never had a problem finding a babysitter, or playmates.

Herd of big ones
It seems clear that the western world could use many more Midlands. I’m skeptical about our near-term future and current adults’ willingness and ability to change. The needed transition to more sustainable means of food and energy generation in the US will most likely come from market signals (incorporating negative externalities like carbon dioxide emissions or aquifer depletion into prices), which isn’t going to happen unless law-making bodies pass regulations, which isn’t going to happen unless their constituencies demand it, which isn’t going to happen with the world view and values with which most people grow up. The truth is, we need Midlands in many more places where ‘family values’ and world views are passed on from generation to generation – kids are indoctrinated with their parents' views at an early age, when they should be out exploring their own truths.

Sophmore class with their new turbine
 Hopefully, this new endeavour of small wind turbine building workshops will allow blueEnergy to interface with other inspiring educational programs like Midland. But we also hope that we can find opportunities to hold workshops at the many underfunded and forgotten public schools, where a hand built renewable energy generator may capture the imagination of future generations, much more so than a wall socket.


Wind Turbine Building Workshop – Training the Trainers

By Julie Karel - I’m a 4th year PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering at University of California – Berkeley, and I have been a blueEnergy volunteer in San Francisco for almost 2 years, helping with research projects and event coordination. Recently Mathias asked me to help teach various groups in the Bay Area how to build and assemble wind turbines. I immediately said “Yes, that sounds great!” The only catch is that I’ve never built a wind turbine before. As it turns out, there aren’t many opportunities to work with wood, copper, fiberglass resin and steel when you live in an apartment in San Francisco. No problem though, there would be training sessions to get us geared up. So, we gathered at Mathias’ house in Berkeley on a Saturday afternoon in early March for some turbine building lessons. In attendance were Christian Casillas, Lizzie Reisman, Phil Homer, Andreas Karelas and myself (i.e volunteers, staff and alumni). First, Christian Casillas and Mathias reviewed the physics and mechanics of blades in horizontal axis wind turbines – arguably one of the most important parts of the system. We learned all about angle of attack, blade twist, lift, tip speed… and much more. We had the opportunity to ask a lot of questions, and Mathias and Christian had the chance to perfect their pedagogical skills.

Christian teaching blade dynamics
After a nice lunch, we got down to business - blade carving. I can’t say that I’ve ever built or carved anything – functional or otherwise – with wood, so suffice it to say I had a lot to learn. First, I had to learn the exact functionality of all the tools. Luckily, everyone was really helpful in explaining what we needed to do. We spent the next couple hours measuring, cutting (I got to use a Skilsaw!) and carving our blades. We didn’t quite finish before dark, but I got the general idea. I really loved working with my hands, learned a lot and definitely have a newfound appreciation for the craft of woodworking. 
Lizzie measuring
Later that week, a skeleton crew (Christian, Lizzie and I) went back to Mathias’ house to discuss coil winding and soldering. I work in a condensed matter physics lab on thin film magnetism, so this topic I know a little about. We spent a lot of time talking about permanent magnets, electromagnetism, current, voltage, AC, DC, batteries, etc. It was interesting for me because I had never really thought about how the wind turbine actually produces electricity. Again, we didn’t get as far into the coil winding and soldering as we wanted, but I learned a lot and had a lot of fun! I feel like I will be ready to teach at the workshops thanks to a lot of help and patience from Mathias and Christian!

WindEmpowerment is Born!

By Mathias Craig - On April 8th, 2011, WindEmpowerment was born. WindEmpowerment is an association that grew out of years of build up and a milestone meeting of organizations involved with Hugh Piggott class wind turbines in Dakar, Sénégal in February of this year. blueEnergy played a lead role in the coordination of this historic meeting and in the formulation of the association's charter.

The adopted charter states:

WindEmpowerment supports the development of locally built wind turbines for sustainable rural electrification. This is achieved by strengthening the capacity of its members through:
1) Building and sharing financial and human resource connections
2) Performing joint technical research, sharing technical information and collaborating on key vendor relationships
3) Strengthening understanding of business and social models for effective implementation of small wind technology
 Initial meeting in Dakar, Sénégal. February 2011

The founding members of the association are: • Tripalium • ÉolSénégal • blueEnergy (International, US, France, Nicaragua) • Ti'éole • Scoraig Wind Electric • Otherpower • Solarmad • AJA Mali • Comet-ME • The Clean Energy Company • I-Love-Windpower Mali • I-Love-Windpower Tanzania • Renewable World • Volunteer WindAid • WindAid • Green Empowerment • AEETEC • HIDRORED

WindEmpowerment is open to new members and an outreach initiative to grow the association is underway.


blueEnergy and Schneider Electric in Madrid

By Julie Petrucci -- Between February 17th and 22nd, blueEnergy France organized, with the support of Schneider Electric, a challenge for the graduating class of 450 students of MBA (IE Madrid). The aim was to create an electric product which can improve the living conditions and generate new income for developing communities. The target for the challenge was the 257 inhabitants of Monkey Point. At the end of the week of competition, two teams were rewarded for their hard work.
We warmly thank IE Madrid for its hospitality and our partner Schneider Electric.

blueEnergy Seeks New Development Director

blueEnergy is seeking a proactive, adaptable individual with a strong commitment to social change to grow and lead our US development group. As Development Director, this individual will join the dynamic, international team that is blueEnergy and play a pivotal role in helping us build a more sustainable, equitable world.  This full-time position is located in San Francisco and will report to the Executive Director.

The Development Director will be responsible for increasing blueEnergy’s revenue generating capabilities by growing the organization’s internship and research programs, submitting grant proposals, and coordinating events in the Bay Area. Other responsibilities include working closely with the Executive Director, France Country Director, and Nicaragua project team.

Candidates must have exceptional teamwork and communication skills, and be able to thrive in a fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment.

Please review the job description here and, if interested in applying, send a copy of your resume and cover letter to Lizzie Reisman at

Evening of Support 2011 was a great success!

By Julie Petrucci --The annual blueEnergy Evening of Support, which gathered approximately 200 guests, took place at the Comptoir Général, Paris. According to its projects 2011, blueEnergy went with a water theme and invited people to sponsor a bio-sand water filter.

Several highlights of the evening: tasting of wine of the Domaine Modat, a close-up magician, theater of improvisation of the Flibustiers de l’Imaginaire, the Mezcla del Paris and their flamenco rhythms, and to finish, les Génisses dans l’maïs playing a tune of gypsy jazz.

The joke of the evening was a little "present from Nicaragua". It was labeled as a bottle of water filtered by blueEnergy bio-sand filters, but in reality, the water was from a French spring!

The evening was a success for blueEnergy, thanks to the support of the participants, our financial partners, Alto and Drillscan, the Domaine Modat and the bakery " Certains l’aiment chaud ".

Thank you!