blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


blueEnergy invites you to its 2012 fundraising party in Paris!

Let’s meet on February 9th at Comptoir Général, Paris (80 quai de Jemmapes, 75010) from 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm! 

The party will include four different acts! Flibustier de l’imaginaire will open the event with an improvisation theatre play, then Simon Beaudoux will sing (guitar and voice). Génisses dans l’mais’ band will continue warming the party with rural Rock and be followed by Latinamundo and their suave Latin dance steps. 

All the while, Caribbean activities will help you discover Nicaragua: mysterious cocktails, crafts, local coffee tasting… 

Gilma and Denis with their three children and cookstove
To complement blueEnergy Nicaragua efforts in favor of sustainable energies, training and drinkable water access, blueEnergy France has decided to finance 200 cook stoves this year. All benefits will be used for blueEnergy activities, and in particular to finance cook stoves. These cook stoves use only half of the coal necessary for a traditional stove (Nicaraguan families often use wheels as improvised stoves). They also reduce domestic pollution diseases, the coal budget, deforestation and they make micro-enterprise creations, like street canteens, easier. 

If you want to contribute, you can sponsor different kinds of stoves here: (In France, you receive a 66% tax-credit for donations. If you donate more than 40 Euros, your party entrance is free!)

Comptoir Général – 80 quai de Jemmapes – 75010 Paris
Subway: Jacques Bonsergent (L5), République (L3, 5, 8, 9, 11) et Goncourt (L11)


Entrance (with a free drink):

- Discount Ticket : 8 €
- Normal Ticket : 12 €
- To be member: 40 €
- Cook stove : 120 €

We cannot accept credit cards.

Number of tickets is limited!

blueEnergy’s Work Highlighted This Month in the Green Frog

By Emily Castello - This month, blueEnergy Executive Director Mathias Craig was featured in The Green Frog, a Silicon-Valley based media publication that features articles on social entrepreneurship, cleantech innovation, venture capital and energy policy. What do you really know about the evolution of blueEnergy? Read on to learn more!

From traveling with a linguist to connecting under-served populations with basic energy and water services: do you know Mathias Craig?

Sometimes you meet someone who goes after a big idea and can enthuse his family, friends and others to join the adventure and to make a difference in this world.  It does not happen that often. Maybe more often than none in Silicon Valley, where Apple and Google started in family garages. That is what happened to me when I interviewed Mathias Craig who co-founded blueEnergy with his brother Guillaume and his childhood friend Lâl Marandin to bring basic energy and clean water services to poor population off the grid.

By the end of our chat, I could not help caring about his cause because his passion is not just about finding a technical solution or helping others. It is about connecting people, and this goes beyond infrastructure. More than 1.5 billion people still do not have access to electricity. Actually there are more people without basic lighting today than at the time of Thomas Edison. Some populations like the ones on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua live outside the pyramid, with little resources and in remote areas. That is where Mathias and blueEnergy come in to play.


MIT students bring Waste Management Solutions to Bluefields

By Angela Cacciola - Right now, they don’t move any plastic out of Bluefields… or very little. Instead of localizing their garbage, people often toss empty packets of chips or cookies, bags used in commercial exchanges, soda and juice bottles and other miscellaneous items in the streets. Mud-smeared trash, piled up everywhere and stinking, does not compliment the wild array of colored houses that could potentially attract tourists, or more importantly, help create sanitary conditions in a town where trash and sewage saturate the same ground that supplies drinking water.

To address this issue, dressed in homemade newspaper skirts and hats littered with trash, students from MIT enthusiastically introduced the idea of sorting household garbage to a curious crowd at the main park in Bluefields. The event of song, dance, and candy kicked off what they hope continues to be a community campaign promoting their projects that will allow Bluefields to begin to approach zero waste.

MIT composting team talks with the composteras
For the fifteen students, these projects are the culmination of a fall semester class, D-Lab waste, which offers them the opportunity to explore and create solutions for waste management in low and middle-income countries. For their professor, Libby McDonald, the two weeks spent in Nicaragua with her students is part of a project with the UNDP, Bluefields municipality and blueEnergy, which began almost a year and a half ago.

While this culturally diverse group hails from all ages and professions, all arrived in Bluefields with three common goals: to create an independent worker cooperative with the local waste pickers, to plan for the expansion of the existing compost program and to design a biodiogester that creates methane and fertilizer from waste at the slaughterhouse. The students worked all semester but for many of the urban planners in the class, the Bluefields experience was, “boot camp for international development.” However, Libby emphasized, “the really important moment is when the student can go from the bottom, being despondent and feeling like they have nothing to give, to realizing that indeed, they have worked hard to understand the situation and have recommendations that are worth sharing.”

Alex connecting pipe on a biodigester
“Originally, I felt nervous going into peoples’ houses and neighborhoods,” said MIT student Alex Marks. “I expected a certain level of distain, one based in bitterness caused by contrasting economic means.”  Soon he realized that, “there’s no plumbing here, no hot water, but people still live happy and healthy…and they don’t hate me.” Furthermore, after his experience in Bluefields, Alex, who initially said he had no background in development and, “no inkling towards it either” wants to continue in the development sector, "where you can really have a contribution to growth."

In the end, the group was able to do just that… have a contribution to the growth of Bluefields and its waste management system. Through meetings coordinated by blueEnergy with locals ranging in profession from garbage pickers to the city mayor, the students were able to understand the dilemmas posed by working in a marginalized community. After two weeks, they gave a public presentation on the problems they identified in the municipality and their recommendations for improvement. Furthermore, on February 1st, each of the three groups will present a formal report on these finding to the municipality. To learn more extensively about their experience and recommendations, please visit the CO-Lab Radio blog which is still being updated, Waste Management Strategies in Coastal Nicaragua.

Over the next two years, blueEnergy looks forward to a continued collaboration with MIT and Professor Libby McDonald, who plans on bringing more students down to continue building the projects and hopefully creating the beautiful city Bluefields has the potential to be.

blueEnergy International Board Comes to Nicaragua

blueEnergy board and friends in Granada
By Bruce Noda - Eager to see the efforts of blueEnergy Nicaragua, the bE International Board scheduled their first board meeting of 2012 in Granada followed by an onsite visit to blueEnergy’s operations headquartered in Bluefields on the Caribbean Coast. Executive Director Mathias Craig presented an annual report on revenue, expenses, personnel, projects and social impact to the Board. This presentation was followed up with further discussions on fundraising activities as well as a presentation on “The Age of Reason” by Mathias and board member Colette Grinevald. As blueEnergy enters it’s seventh year, blueEnergy is in the maturation phase where we can start to distinguish the possible from the impossible and to appreciate true cost and opportunity cost. The age of reason is about understanding how things really are today, envisioning a better future and determining what it will realistically take to get there.

After the Board meeting, blueEnergy Nicaragua hosted a conference of its partners, including other NGOs, representatives from both the American and French embassies, and Nicaraguan government officials. After a presentation on blueEnergy’s various projects and areas of impact, conference guests were encouraged to discuss their particular experiences working with blueEnergy and invited to give their impressions of the work being done by blueEnergy. It was a highlight of my visit to hear these guests provide such a positive view of the work and impact of bE staff and volunteers in the communities we serve. This was an affirmation of the benefit of blueEnergy’s work by peers and oversight organizations that recognize the needs of our beneficiaries.

blueEnergy board and friends enjoying the three hour
panga journey from Kahka Creek back to Bluefields!
Following the board meeting in Granada, most of the board members along with long-time supporters from France and the US traveled to Bluefields to begin a tour of blueEnergy’s operations on the Caribbean Coast. We had the opportunity to meet with staff members of the water and energy team to learn more about their specific projects as well as met with members of Bluefields’ mayor’s office and government officials of GTRK, the Rama-Kriol Territorial Government. We also had the opportunity to travel to Pearl Lagoon, Kahkabila, Wawashang, and Kahka Creek to see several projects. We also met with blueEnergy staff, volunteers, interns and a group visiting from MIT who were working in conjunction with blueEnergy on several community projects in Bluefields.

This was my second trip to Bluefields. Although I had already visited the area in September of 2009, I continue to be impressed by the work and dedication of our staff. It was great to see that we are committed to employing more local Nicaraguans and that we are able to maintain a strong core of international volunteers and interns. Our management team is strong and effective and continues to reach out to the communities and other organizations with which we share a common goal and vision.

Bruce with the tree he planted in Kahka Creek.
On a personal note, my best memory of the trip was in Kahka Creek. We had an opportunity to help with a reforestation project and I was impressed by the community leader’s devotion and love of the land. He entertained us with songs from his heart of his devotion to the protection of the land and his country of Nicaragua.

Overall, my time in Nicaragua was well spent. I am proud to be part of the diverse blueEnergy team “working for a more equitable, sustainable world.”

Bruce Noda is Chairman of the blueEnergy International Board.


Luke Hulsenback Reflects on his Internship Experience with blueEnergy

A third-year student at Brown University in Rhode Island, USA, Luke Hulsenbeck, interned at blueEnergy for two weeks in January to apply his engineering skills and knowledge within a real-world setting like Bluefields, Nicaragua. In just two short weeks, Luke helped design and build a new, more user-friendly pump handle for blueEnergy’s baptist wells. The new handle is double acting so that water comes out on both the up and down strokes. It also has a fixed spout, making it easier and quicker for beneficiaries to collect water.


By Luke Hulsenback - The notion of the experience I was about to have didn’t really hit me until I was about to land in the rainforest at the end of my flight from Managua to Bluefields. At first impression, Bluefields, blueEnergy’s project headquarters on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, was beautiful, surreal, lush and inviting. I had never been to a tropical region before and I was amazed at how green everything was (although I was coming from mid-winter New Jersey). In less than an hour after my arrival, I found myself consumed by the energy and work on one of blueEnergy’s work sites. The blueEnergy energy team was working to install two large wind towers for a wind study. It was exciting to watch blueEnergy in action and I couldn’t help but get involved. I think that’s one of the characteristics about blueEnergy that makes it so appealing–the people really are just full of positive energy and are extremely passionate about and dedicated to what they do. Though the project didn’t go as planned that day (which I came to learn is normal when working in the field), everyone on the blueEnergy team remained motivated to see the project through. This level of commitment and motivation exhibited by blueEnergy staff and volunteers was something that stuck with me throughout my time interning with blueEnergy.
Luke helps prepare a wind  tower on El Bluff within an hour of arriving in Bluefields. 

The staff at blueEnergy are like a family. They all truly care about each other and are extremely supportive and involved in each other’s endeavors. I had a chance to work in the workshop with a lot of the local people, and even though I knew no Spanish, by the end of my time I found I could joke around with the local technicians and laugh with them just as easily as I could with my friends back home. The combination of working in a beautiful, remote area with great people and working on a project (a hand-pump for the community wells) that had direct impacts on the beneficiaries made for a great internship experience. I am looking forward to returning someday.

Luke (L) learning to use a grinder


bE hosts ¨Exchange Forum of Technologies and Methodologies: Solar Latrines¨

By Angela Cacciola - When you make a commitment to work in a geographically isolated, former war-zone, where heat, humidity, salinity and hurricanes wreck havoc on obtaining and maintaining resources, logistics are quite complicated.As these problems compound with various social issues, including low-level economic activity, inadequate formal education levels, parallel governments, and multi-ethnic and multi-lingual groups, a holistic approach to the development of marginalized societies becomes required.

As blueEnergy Nicaragua Country Director Guillaume Craig states, Bluefields “is not the ideal place to re-invent the wheel.”Instead, it’s the place to learn how the wheel was made, find the sturdiest, cheapest, most available tools to build a modified wheel, and then find locals who can carry out the technical work.Accordingly, while blueEnergy invests in research and development, a key strategy in its overall plan includes catalyzing national networks and “bringing them together to work on the common goal of community strengthening through… interchanges.” Collaborating technologies and strategies with partners and beneficiaries is vital to blueEnergy’s organizational success.

Angel Rivas explains double pit, waterseal,
composting latrines to conference attendees.
In the first week of December, blueEnergy organized and hosted the Exchange Forum of Technologies and Methodologies: Solar Latrines.The two-day conference brought together a variety of local development partners, including FADCANIC and FUNCOS (NGOs), INATEC (technical school), and BICU (university), along with a representative from the Bluefield’s mayor’s office. Special guest, Angel Rivas, came from El Porvenir, an NGO based in the United States that works on the Pacific side of Nicaragua.

Over the past 20 years, El Porvenir has completed 740 projects in water, sanitation, reforestation and education.It currently provides 105,000 people with drinking water, and has planted 530,425 trees and built more than 888 improved stoves. In 2009 alone, El Porvenir helped villagers build 584 latrines, 9 washing stations, 26 wells, 2 gravity flow systems, and 151 low-fuel stoves.

During the morning of the first day, Mr. Rivas presented El Porvenir’s style of double pit, water seal composting latrines. These latrines have been well received by their beneficiaries and many of the first latrines installed are still in use today. Mr. Rivas noted the pros and cons of each latrine design, along with their technical standards, material designs, and costs. He also addressed the equally important social concerns of implementing the projects with regards to monetary contributions, labor, and community involvement.
FUNCOS liason discusses the composting process used by the farm.

On the second day, conference attendees visited FUNCOS, which provided technical information on water, sanitation and improved cook stoves. Attendees also visited blueEnergy solar latrines, composting toilets, bio-arena water filters, and Baptist wells. The event culminated in presentations by local partners on additional cook stove technologies and a large group discussion on the potential for implementation on the Atlantic coast for the various technologies presented.

From this knowledge-exchange workshop, Angel Rivas says he is “most interested in the solar latrine,” which he thinks “could be a viable technology for use in the rural mountain areas where El Porvenir works.”blueEnergy will be using the information learned during the conference to identify the best model for future community development projects.Overall, as blueEnergy Nicaragua Country Director Guillaume Craig notes, the gathering was a “very productive and enriching experience,” and yet another progressive step in blueEnergy’s continuous work “for a more equitable, sustainable world.”

L-R, Vladimir (bE), Angel Rivas (El Porvenir), Thibaut Demaegdt (bE), Guillaume Craig (bE) and Jorge Ramos (bE)