blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


Cal Energy Corps students research and implement alongside blueEnergy

By Casey Callais -- blueEnergy was privileged to have three students from the UC Berkeley's Cal Energy Corps working with blueEnergy for nine weeks this summer.

Johnathan Lee, Casey Finnerty and Mauricio Castillo spent their time researching, teaching, building and installing alongside blueEnergy volunteers and staff. They kept journals of their experiences, which are well worth a read:
Overall, I have really enjoyed getting the practical experience of actually building and installing solar systems, and I am looking forward to doing a larger system on Rama Cay. The experience of planning and budgeting a project has also been very valuable and interesting, and I feel like the entire experience is complementing the more theoretical education I received at Berkeley. On top of all of that, it has been a fantastic cultural experience living in Bluefields and learning about how they use energy here, what energy development means to the communities, and what kind of impact energy development can have on their lives.
Read more about how Johnathan Lee installs, teaches and builds databases with bE energy team.
blueEnergy’s approach to implementation is based on “participatory methodologies to understand the needs, desires, and capabilities of the beneficiary communities.” An excellent example of this approach is their current water filtration project. Roughly 75% of the population along the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua does not have adequate access to clean water. In response, blueEnergy has undertaken many projects to promote healthy living practices and make clean water more accessible. To help ensure the sustainability of this project, blueEnergy has the beneficiaries attend workshops on the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene. blueEnergy also helps community members construct their own filters and perform follow-up visits to all participating families.
Casey Finnerty talks more about his experiences working with the water and sanitation team
 After interviewing several potential beneficiaries I have chosen to build a stove for a family of 5 nearby the blueEnergy office. This family cooks solely with wood, which they collect themselves from a nearby forest that is a 30 minutes away. The mother cooks in an enclosed space on a traditional cook stove which consists of the pot being placed over three stones with the firewood placed underneath. These traditional cook stoves require a lot of wood because the heat generated is not concentrated and escapes around the sides of the pot. The mother expressed concern about the smoke inhalation because her young children are always nearby and often times there is enough smoke produced to cause discomfort while she is cooking.The stove will heat two pots at once, though there will be reduced smoke emissions, l will also construct a chimney to channel smoke up and out of the kitchen. I have enjoyed the design and building process and look forward to seeing my project come to fruition.
Check out Mauricio Castillo's time working on building a more efficient cookstove

Johnathon Lee Shows how to wire a solar panel in Rocky Point
To learn how you can be like Johnathon, Casey, and Mauricio and make a difference in the lives of those living along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, check out blueEnergy's Service Learning Internship Program.


blueEnergy helps to bring renewable electricity to the Rama-Kriol communities

By Casey Callais -- blueEnergy is proud to announce the completion of the largest-scale renewable energy installation it has yet to undertake. With funding and coordination assistance from Danida, Ibis, the Government of the Rama-Kriol Territory (GTR-K) and INATEC, blueEnergy successfully installed solar energy systems in the nine multi-purpose houses in the underdeveloped Rama-Kriol territory. This is a total of 4,725 watts, which will contribute to the community development and governance of the GTR-K.

Alex mounting a solar panel in the Rama village of Bankukuk
The villages that received installations were Rama Cay, Tik Tik Kaanu, Sumo Kaat, Wiring Cay, Monkey Point, Bankukuk, Corn River, Greytown and Makengue in the Indian River. Through these installations community members are now able to take part in various activities both day and night. They will also be able to run electrical equipment such as computers, fans, projectors, and radios. This will assist in facilitating communal and territorial actions. Computerized equipment can now be used to handle administrative records and the use of appliances will  provide services to people visiting the communities.

Lights on in Bankukuk
This project also provided technical training for community members so that they may perform the basic maintenance required of the systems themselves, allowing better upkeep, performance, and developed sustainable outcome.

Among these 19 locally trained operators is a technician who received INATEC-certified training and will be able to handle more complicated problems if they arise.

INATEC-trained technician with system in Greytown
And the response from the beneficiaries has been overwhelmingly positive. "(It) is more healthy to have this type of energy for the community people than to have those machines that make a lot of noise and a lot of contamination," said Basilio Ruiz, representative of the Rama people. "For us it's good to know that."

This nine-community installations for the indigenous and Afro-decendent people of the Rama-Kriol territory, along with the operator and technician trainings, are part of blueEnergy's mission of working toward a more equitable, sustainable world.

For more photos, click below to see blueEnergy's Picasa album:


A day with blueEnergy

By Nathalie Baudier -- For the last three years, Royal Sun Alliance (RSA) has organized an annual Charity Day. This is a day when the 23,000 employees at RSA in 33 countries stop their daily work and help an NGO.

This year in the RSA Paris office, Cécile Lacroix, Nathalie Baudier and Flore Lauret chose blueEnergy.

We chose blueEnergy because we believe in their focus on sustainable development work, and our talents met their needs. 
Cécile, Flore, Nathalie from RSA and Sarah from blueEnergy
Our mission was:

- Study blueEnergy website and give our impressions

- Translate English articles in French in order to publish them in the French newsletter.

- Create a list of French organizations with short-term volunteer missions, such as the blueEnergy Service Learning Internship Program.

- Make a list of potential web-links to connect with blueEnergy.

We enjoyed our day. It was wonderful meeting Sarah and Emilie and assisting them projects, which made us feel very useful.

Thank you blueEnergy France!


The national “Salon des Solidarités”

By Sarah Ben Hadj -- From June 1st to 3rd, the fourth edition of the solidarity exhibition took place in Paris. This is the most important meeting for French and European actors of international solidarity.

No less than 18,868 visitors toured the aisles (vs. 15,000 in 2010, an increase of 26%) to reach out to blueEnergy and 249 other exhibitors. blueEnergy was enthusiastic to present our work inNicaragua and wind turbine workshops in Paris. We displayed a small wind turbine in our exhibition, which was a big hit!

The theme of the exhibition was the creation of the "innovation garden" which represents a space dedicated to present technical innovation in the areas of eco-building, water/hygiene/sanitation, agriculture and energy. blueEnergy presented the experimental solar dry latrine and received the innovation award for water/hygiene/sanitation sector.

blueEnergy receiving the innovation award for the solar latrine

What is a solar dry latrine?
This type of latrine has been tested by blueEnergy with the aim of reducing pollution caused by human waste, raise awareness on hygiene practices and assist with the creation of compost.

The operation is extremely simple: the compartmentalized seat of the toilet enables the separation of feces and urine. The urine passes through a sand and carbon filter before returning to the earth. The feces remains in the composting chamber, which is capped by a metal plate painted black. During the day the chamber heats up to a relatively high temperature, which eliminates pathogens faster than conventional dry latrines (about 45 days for solar latrines vs. at least 6 months for conventional dry latrines). Moreover, this type of latrine does not require water.

Constructing the chamber of the solar latrine
For the moment the latrine is still in the experimental period, but results show that the technology is extremely efficient.

We would like to thank Marie-Claude Scherrer and Michele Grégoire for their organization and power of negotiation (we were given more than twice the space to present!), and our volunteers Elisabeth Cremieux, Pierre Santraud, Gaetan Russo, Francois cochemé, Claire Winé, Binjamin Loiseau et Antoine Veyrat for installing, assisting and uninstalling the stand.

Part of the bE France team: François, Pierre, Marie-Claude, Emilie and Michèle


Change today, empower tomorrow

Matt Flannery, Co-founder and CEO of Kiva and blueEnergy Board Member understands the importance of supporting organizations like blueEnergy that go to the edge, taking on challenging circumstances to create change in the lives of those that need it most. In support of  blueEnergy's change today, empower tomorrow campaign, Matt shared this statement about blueEnergy.

"I founded Kiva because I believe in the power of market solutions like micro-finance to help the poor improve their own lives. But I also know that many live outside the reach of market solutions. I support blueEnergy because they are pioneers, going where other won't, building the foundation for market solutions. Their innovative work bringing renewable energy, clean water and sanitation services to the most isolated poor is helping transform lives today and opening up even bigger opportunities for tomorrow." 

Join Matt through August 15th and donate to change today, empower tomorrow. Encourage others to do the same and increase awareness by sharing the link and video with your network of family, friends, and colleagues. Your contribution can greatly impact individuals, families and communities living along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.


Infographic: Poop in the developing world

Cool infographic on the state of the poop in the developing world. This really helps to put blueEnergy's work with clean water and sanitation into's just a drop in the bucket (so to speak), but every little bit counts!

Lack of Sanitation
Created by: Special thanks to Tony Shin.


bE Sponsors Welding Class to Build Local Capacity

By Casey Callais -- It was a long month, but blueEnergy is proud to have sponsored five local staff members to become certified welders through INATEC. Gilberto Funez, Alvin "Gutrie" McCrae, William Mendez, Hector Candler and Vladamir Pao all received their certificates for completing the fifty-one hours of classwork and practical training.

"This was a blueEnergy effort and I consider the thanks should be to them," said water technician Vladamir Pao. "I feel excited to have finished."

Pelen, William, Vladamir and Gilberto cut tubing
This will help strengthen blueEnergy's water and the energy teams, both of which rely on quality metalworking skills. The digging of wells requires constructing special bits from raw materials. Water filter molds are built from 3/8" plate steel and frames for solar installations are usually welded as well. This will speed up the process for building and repairing custom equipment for the field.

This was also the first time that INATEC was afforded the opportunity to try out the new classroom equipment since receiving it in 2011. The institution hopes to begin regular metalworking classes later this year.

Alvin "Gutrie" McCrea shows off his certificate


Lycée International Solidarity group learns about renewable energy and life in a developing country

By Emilie Etienne -- We welcomed five young Lycée International Solidarity, who traveled to Bluefields in May for 15 days, as part of their research project on renewable energy. They discovered the challenges of energy management as well as water and sanitation in Bluefields, including the installation of electrical systems at Rocky Point. In return, they created a video of the development the community would like to see in twenty years (in French).


Intern Experience Firsthand: Sam Rhoads

By Sam Rhoads -- I arrived in Bluefields Nicaragua in the end of May to begin a two months study abroad program for my university. The study abroad program was at the Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University (BICU) where I studied Spanish in the afternoon. I came across blueEnergy because I was looking for some work that I could do or somewhere that I could help out in the mornings when I did not have class. Many people that I met from Bluefields mentioned blueEnergy to me during conversations, and the work they do in the area aroused my interest. So, I headed to the blueEnergy office to inquire about working with them for my two months in Bluefields as a sort of volunteer intern. The wonderful workforce at blueEnergy was very accommodating, and they found work for me with their Water and Sanitation team.

My work with the Water and Sanitation team involved a number of different projects. Some of these projects included: constructing water filters with the beneficiaries, carrying the filters to beneficiaries’ homes, providing training on the usage and maintenance of the filters, performing follow-up surveys to ensure proper usage of the filters, testing water samples of filtered and unfiltered water to ensure that the filters work, assisting with the drilling of water wells, and much more. Besides being very interesting work, learning a lot about the construction process of water filters and well drilling and construction, I also found the work very meaningful. Each day beneficiaries came to help with the construction of the filters; this gave them the sense of responsibility and ownership over the filters. It was incredible to see how inspired they were to come work on their filters. The looks of satisfaction and happiness on the faces of beneficiaries when we delivered and installed the finished product at their houses gave the work more significance. The same went for drilling the wells. Well drilling is arduous work, but every day without fail, rain or shine, the beneficiaries would be there with smiles on their faces - working away to help finish their well.

Sam talking about his time with blueEnergy

Living in Bluefields and working with blueEnergy for the past two months has been a very significant time for me. I have learned a lot, and it has definitely helped to shape the way I think, live, and what I will do in the future. It was great to be able to provide people with a basic amenity that many of us in the United States and other more privileged countries take for granted: clean drinking water. For thousands of people in Nicaragua (and many other countries around the globe), clean drinking water is something that they don’t have. This time that I spent working with blueEnergy has reinforced my desire to find a way to use my civil engineering degree when I am done with school to help provide less privileged people then myself with services and facilities that are necessary for living. Working with blueEnergy has been a great privilege for me and is a time that I will never forget.


What is a Service Learning Trip really like?

So what is a Service Learning Trip with blueEnergy really like? Invest two minutes to find out: