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bE Building Global Leaders: Alumns Continuing to Give the Gift of Light!

By Angela Cacciola - When Luciana Proietti met Esteban van Dam in 2009 while she was volunteering with him for blueEnergy Bluefields, Nicaragua, she never imagined they would fall in love and start an NGO together.  Since returning to Argentina in 2010, their passions and experiences have inspired them to co-found 500rpm. Similar to blueEnergy, 500rpm recognizes the need to work in both development and advocacy.  Along with its efforts to bring wind energy to rural schools in Argentina, it engages to change the country’s current energy policies. Luciana notes the importance of accompanying “our actions in favor of development, with political actions on local and even national governments, not only to achieve greater impact, but also to discuss and democratize our ideas.”
Luciana in Bluefields, Nicaragua with local children.

Luciana is not new to environmental or development work within her country.  In 2008, she worked with Greenpeace and Action Against Hunger as a volunteer coordinator on an energy efficiency campaign.  However, she never imagined or realized that in Argentina “2,000 schools operate without power and 2,000,000 people live in the dark!”  Fortunately these startling numbers did not discourage her.  As a 30-year old finishing her masters in non-government organizations, she has bright plans for 500rpm to build an Argentina “full of wind turbines, economically and environmentally sustainable, and free of greenhouse gases emissions.”

At blueEnergy, Luciana or “Luz” (Spanish for “light”) as she became fondly known in the Creole communities, gained priceless experience traveling and working in the capacity building and community teams along the Atlantic coast.  blueEnergy Nicaragua Director  Guillaume Craig remembers her as “the most bubbly person… but, always very engaged and asking a lot of questions to get to the deeper issues.”  Luciana also recalls her time spent at blueEnergy with delight, “I found everything I was looking for…one of the best things [being] the people and their cultures!”  In fact, the experience “promised all that interested me: the care of the environment, multiculturalism,, development work and adventure.”

Luciana collecting water from a blueEnergy
biosand filter in Monkey Point, Nicaragua.
500rpm uses the same type of turbine Luciana and Esteban learned about at blueEnergy that was developed by Hugh Piggott, a Scottish engineer of Scoraig Wind Electric.  Many development organizations around the world have adopted Piggott’s unique and simple turbine design, as it requires minimal maintenance and can be constructed manually with local materials.  500rpm installs wind turbines in communities throughout Argentina. The power generated from the turbines serves as the principal source of energy within these communities.   

Luciana at 500rpm demonstrating how to build a wind turbine coil.
Currently, 500rpm is strengthening the structure of their organization through communications and fundraising so they may expand their efforts in the future.  “500rpm wants to implement projects in all the schools possible,” Luciana says. Even though the Argentinean government is currently working to electrify rural schools throughout the country, “there are still a lot of people without energy.  So we have work to do!” For 500rpm, blueEnergy, and the rest of the world involved in bringing light to developing areas, she couldn’t be more correct.

The first wind turbine light installation done by 500rpm.

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