blueEnergy works to create a more equitable, sustainable world


blueEnergy Celebrates the Planet

On Sunday, September 23rd, volunteers in blueEnergy France took part on Cesarts festival in Nucourt in the regional park of Vexin to celebrate the planet.

By Benjamin Loiseau – The Cesarts festival is an edutainment event organized to inspire local youth. This year's topics were energy, eco-mobility and protection of water and oceans. This was a godsend opportunity to show our expertise in wind energy and introduce our actions to a broader audience. About 1,500 people, most of them families, were in attendance.

The programs offered by the festival, such as face painting, feather-pinwheel making, a petting zoo, and concert greatly appealed to children. blueEnergy took its place in the festival in the "energy village" which consisted of other exhibitors in the fields of energy efficiency, hydro and solar energy. blueEnergy distinguished itself by emphasizing wind energy.

The blueEnergy team challenged the kids to attempt mounting a lego-style wind turbine by themselves, a real headache for some and a revelation for others. One little boy had succeeded in completing three models before heading home.
Kids learn how to build small turbines

In addition, a wind turbine made during a recent blueEnergy workshop was used as an exhibition model to show how it operates - all the way down to the finest of details. The opportunity to work with a captured audience also allowed us to introduce blueEnergy's energy access and clean water initiatives in Nicaragua to children and their parents. A small stand decorated with the Nicaraguan flag was displayed with wooden sculptures sculpted in Bluefields.

To conclude, this festival was not just a great opportunity to meet a young audience awareness on energy, but also interact with families and explain blueEnergy's work to the wider community.
blueEnergy team shows off a Piggott turbine

I would like to thank Marie-Claude Scherrer, Michèle Grégoire, Emilie Etienne, Pierre Santraud and Caspar Priesmann for all the help they provided during the festival and getting up at dawn on a Sunday morning to make this event possible.
blueEnergy France team!


5 Questions with Local Interns, Violeta and Jader

By Casey Callais -- I recently sat down and interviewed two local Bluefields interns who have been working with blueEnergy for several months. Violeta Quintana is in her last year of her ecology and natural resources studies at the BICU and is working with blueEnergy's water and sanitation team. Jader Peralta is finishing his last year studying accounting and finance at the BICU and has been working for four months in the blueEnergy accounting office (all questions and answers have been translated from Spanish).
Q&A with  
Violeta and Jader


How would you describe a normal day working with blueEnergy?
A normal day of work with bE is a day full of new challenges and new experiences. 

Work with blueEnergy is very nice. When you arrive to the office you punch your card, greet your coworkers and share a quick joke that makes everyone laugh. When we start working, we ask for information from our coworkers that will help us complete our daily functions and if there is any problem in the management of the activities, help is asked from our superiors. We try to efficiently complete everything that is within our reach. 

What have you learned during you time with blueEnergy?
I learned to develop my abilities to work with teams and also work on the projects with empathy, effort and sacrifice. 

During my time with blueEnergy, I have gained much knowledge in accounting since it is an area where I develop well and I have liked it. I have met a lot of people and learned to identify the problems that can challenge an organization. To erradicate those problems takes big solutions. 

What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome working with blueEnergy?
One of the biggest challenges I have had to overcome was the combination of my university classes and work with blueEnergy, but at the same time it was something I could overcome daily and it is satisfying. 

One of my challenges has been to keep updated all of the information that is within my reach. In accounting there are always problems with complying with the internal controls and it is necessary to maintain daily the finance and administrative information so that the bE directors can make decisions based on accurate finance information. 

What are some of the highlights of your time with blueEnergy?
One of the biggest highlights with my experience with bE is that I can be part of and collaborate with the Water and Sanitation Program, learn day to day about all the equipment and above all this experience has helped me very much in my career path and personal development. 

I had been working with the workshop with updating the checking in and out of materials. It is a big and delicate process and for me it's a challenge to efficiently achieve. It is part of my training and there isn't a better way to achieve what I like and want and this is what I like. 

How has your experience with blueEnergy helped prepare you for your future?
The experience with bE forms an important part of my professional development; it has been a great opportunity that will open the way to new experiences, challenges and opportunities.

Very important. While I could help blueEnergy in the area of controls, I strengthened my knowledge and have been involved in the working world. 

Many thanks and it was a pleasure to answer your questions. 


University of Michigan's Mtrek Group Works Firsthand with blueEnergy

By Casey Callais -- A University of Michigan M-Trek trip recently visited blueEnergy for four days to get a taste of what working with blueEnergy is like. M-Trek is a program that brings small groups of MBA students together to bond before they begin their classes.

The trip was organized in part by Lizzie Reisman, former blueEnergy Development Director and current Ross MBA student.  Lizzie convinced a handful of fellow adventurous students to visit Bluefields, Nicaragua for their bonding trip experience.

The M-Trek group spent their time building water filters, conducted interviews with local families to determine energy access needs and distributed solar-powered lamps to the families for testing. One of the locations for lamp distribution was Rama Cay. According to Eric Lopp, blueEnergy Program Coordinator and organizer of the Rama Cay visit:

"After the wet 35-minute trip by dory (a small boat carved out of a log) blueEnergy and the M-Trek group received a gracious welcome at the Moravian Church where over 100 natives dressed in their customary white greeted us. A leader from Rama Cay gave us a short tour of the island explaining their customs and showed us a number of the solar energy installed by blueEnergy."

Click on the video below to see what the group had to say about their time with blueEnergy.

 blueEnergy extends a special thanks to Lizzie for her work in putting together such a great trip!


blueEnergy to build 450 more water filters for Bluefields

By Casey Callais -- blueEnergy is excited to announce a new project, which has been approved and will push the limits of blueEnergy's Water and Sanitation team, a challenge we are looking forward to! The project is financed by USAID and FHI 360 and is based around water filtration and local education.

In the next ten months blueEnergy will be building and installing 450 biosand water filters in Bluefields, but this is just the start. The project also includes trainings for teachers, students and local organizations in solid waste management, a joint venture with the municipality to bring waste management awareness to a broader population and a reduce, reuse and recycle campaign.

USAID, blueEnergy and FHI 360 working together
We hope that this project will usher in a greater understanding of clean water, hygiene and waste management which are concerns for everyone on the coast. 

Granting bE the implementation of the project,
"For the right to clean water and healthy environment"


From Berkeley to Bluefields and Back: Cal Energy Corps Student Symposium

By Kate Graham --blueEnergy is known for going to the edge, working where others won’t to provide energy access, clean water and sanitation solutions to those living along the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. But, who are these individuals choosing to cross borders and spend their time working on the periphery, navigating an area lacking roads, modern equipment, tools, and power? Many are participants in blueEnergy’s Global Leadership Program, a program geared to provide the next generation with the opportunity to witness and respond to the needs of the most isolated poor.
bE co-founder Mathias Craig speaking at the symposium

This past summer three Cal Energy Corp students, Casey Finnerty, Mauricio Castillo and Jonathan Lee traveled to Nicaragua to participate in blueEnergy’s Global Leadership Program. The Cal Energy Corps is an undergraduate internship program created to engage the best and brightest students from UC Berkeley in the design, development, and delivery of sustainable energy and climate solutions across the world. Through Cal Energy Corps student research efforts, blueEnergy is able to test and pilot new solutions that have the potential to become services providing great value to blueEnergy’s beneficiaries.

Superstars! Casey, Mauricio, Jonathan

Casey, Mauricio, and Jonathan spent 9 weeks with blueEnergy (details from their time in the field is documented here and here) and arriving back at Berkeley were given the opportunity to present projects and blueEnergy experiences at the Cal Energy Corps Symposium. As they stood beside posters highlighting their work, each student spoke about the challenges associated with project implementation in rural coastal communities and the best practices that emerged after weeks of researching and testing.
Well rounded audience

The Symposium continued with a welcome by Dr. Graham Fleming, Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor for Research. Dr. Fleming mentioned blueEnergy as a key Cal Energy Corps partner committed to providing meaningful experiences for students. Dr. Arun Majumdar, former professor of materials science and engineering at Berkeley and expert in transformational energy research and development, spoke to the audience in a key-note address about sustainable energy access as a human rights issue and encouraged Cal Energy Corps students to continue a path focused on global solutions.
Jonathan Lee: “Improving Longevity of Small Off- Grid Solar Photovoltaic Installations"

The symposium ended with a panel discussion, which included Mathias Craig, blueEnergy Founder and Executive Director. Mathias mentioned his summer visit to Nicaragua, where he witnessed Casey, Mauricio, and Jonathan working on the beginning stages of their projects – identifying beneficiaries, creating schematics, strategizing with blueEnergy technicians. Mathias also noted how well the students integrated into the culture and community of Bluefields. He praised Cal Energy Corps and called on Dr. Fleming to “send more students to Bluefields.”
"Send more students to Bluefields!"

blueEnergy is thankful for the ongoing relationship with Cal Energy Corps and appreciates following and supporting the progression and growth in projects and students from Berkeley to Bluefields and back. blueEnergy believes that through facilitating opportunities at the edge, in places far off the radar, stronger, more capable leaders, like Casey, Mauricio, and Jonathan will emerge, with the capacity and drive to create a more equitable, sustainable world.
(L to R) Tiff Dressen (New Initiatives Manger: Vice Chancellor for Research),
Casey Finnerty, Mauricio Castillo, Jonathan Lee, Mathias Craig, Kate Graham

For more information about blueEnergy’s Global Leadership Program and opportunities to work with blueEnergy in Bluefields, Nicaragua, please e-mail US Development Officer, Kate Graham at:

Check out our Picasa album for more photos!

Cal Energy Corps interns field-test smart solutions

From the UC Berkeley News Center:
Recently returned from summer sojourns, 32 UC Berkeley undergraduates shared experiences and adventures interning on myriad sustainability projects around the world during the second annual Cal Energy Corps symposium at the David Brower Center Thursday.

Launched in 2011, the Cal Energy Corps provides undergraduates with practical research and experiential-learning opportunities through internships with partner organizations across the academic, corporate and nonprofit sectors. Modeled on the U.S. Peace Corps, the program aims to engage Berkeley students tackling alternative energy, climate change and sustainability issues around the world.

Mauricio Castillo, a senior majoring in conservation and resource studies, interned in Nicaragua with blueEnergy, a sustainable-development nonprofit co-founded in 2003 by Berkeley alumnus Mathias Craig. “Working so closely with the blueEnergy team, I gained a real insight into rewards of development work and the challenges of running an NGO,” said Castillo, whose family comes from Nicaragua. Read the whole article at UC Berkeley News Center
Maurico Castillo
Mauricio Castillo was on hand to talk about his internship with
blueEnergy in Nicaragua. (Roibín Ó hÉochaidh photo)


Organization Spotlight at

A look at who is fighting poverty on blueEnergy, that's who!

Earlier this week, two conferences — the Mashable Social Good Summit and the Clinton Global Initiative — took place here in New York, discussing how we can all come together to address pressing global problems like poverty.
Each day at Idealist, we see people working to address poverty as well; if you perform a search for the keyword “poverty” on Idealist, you’ll find more than 18,000 organizations and opportunities tackling this issue. In recognition of all the organizations fighting poverty across the world, we’ve decided to highlight a few nonprofits that caught our eye here at Idealist.
blueEnergy in San Francisco, CA


Turbine in action (Photo Credit: blueEnergy)

WE CARE Solar Suitcase Shining Brightly in Rural Health Clinic

By Casey Callais -- The health clinic in Rama Cay is in a dire state with a rusted leaky roof, gates that don't close and access to only eight hours of electricity each day provided by a diesel generator. According to the nurse in charge of the three-room clinic, Maria McCrea the clinic receives no help from MINSA (Nicaraguan Ministry of Health) and patients are required to bring their own candles if they have to stay overnight. blueEnergy teamed up with WE CARE Solar to help alleviate a large problem at the clinic, the problem with light. 

WE CARE Solar designs portable, cost effective solar suitcases that power critical lighting, mobile communication devices, and medical devices in low resource areas without reliable electricity. By equipping off-grid medical clinics with solar power for medical and surgical lighting, WE CARE solar facilitates timely and appropriate emergency care, which greatly reduces maternal and infant morbidity and mortality. 

The Solar Suitcase is a complete 12-volt lighting package with battery, charge controller, waterproof LED lights and cellphone charging adapters that are neatly set in a portable plastic box. Usage habits are monitored monthly and the information will be sent to WE CARE Solar to help improve future versions of the Solar Suitcase.

blueEnergy supplied the solar panel and connected the device in the health clinic with the help of two French interns, Antoine and Claire. The install was led by blueEnergy staff member, Chris Sparadeo and members of the community pitched in to help make sure the install went smoothly.

There is much work still to be done in the clinic in Rama Cay, but now that they have the Solar Suitcase, they will not be working in the dark.