blueEnergy executes its Mission through four distinct, but deeply interconnected programs:
This is blueEnergy’s flagship program and has been active since blueEnergy began in Nicaragua in 2004. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean Coast is by far the poorest region within the country. Roughly 75% of the population lacks access to electricity and life-sustaining clean water and sanitation.
blueEnergy’s approach in this program is to:
1) Use participatory methodologies to understand the needs, desires and capabilities of beneficiary communities.
2) Build partnerships between community, government, education, and public and private sector organizations to build local capacity.
3) Connect community members with energy, water and other fundamental services either through direct delivery or through 3rd party providers.
In the area of energy services, blueEnergy focuses on: solar lamps and domestic PV systems, cookstoves (ecofogones), and large solar systems for established partner organizations.
In the area of water services, blueEnergy focus on: biosand water filters (filters de bio arena), wells (pozos), latrines, and water and sanitation sensitization training.
In addition to its own services, blueEnergy also acts as a facilitator for the delivery of 3rd party services, such as wind studies, telecommunications, micro-finance and waste management. In these cases, blueEnergy is a supporting agency and not the lead agency for the development of the services.
Finally, blueEnergy acts in a key role for the region as an innovation center where technologies, processes and techniques new to the region can be demonstrated, piloted and adapted for future use in service delivery. This allows the isolated Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua to be connected to the vast network of development solutions being created around the world.
blueEnergy’s Global Leadership Program is building a pipeline of leaders working for a more equitable, sustainable world.
The program immerses individuals and group interested in gaining hands-on implementation experience in at least one of the following program areas: water, energy, and community development. Individual work plans are developed by blueEnergy’s Nicaraguan project managers so that each participant has the opportunity to work on a project and develop skills within his/her area of interest. Participants are also encouraged and provided the necessary support to conduct research on areas of their interest and the interests of blueEnergy’s beneficiaries.
The program creates two complementary impacts:
1) The program increases blueEnergy’s impact beyond Nicaragua by inspiring participants to become advocates for equitable development and sustainable living in their home countries. By exposing participants to blueEnergy’s development model, the Leadership Program provides participants with a deep awareness of and appreciation for cultural, historical, and social differences. Participants develop leadership skills, learn how to work effectively in multi-cultural teams, and gain exposure to a holistic community development model.
2) The program stimulates research and development on technologies, processes and techniques that may be new to the region. Through the participants’ research efforts, blueEnergy is able to test and pilot new solutions that have the potential to become services providing value to blueEnergy’s beneficiaries.
The Global Leadership Program also has a sub-component in both France and the United States, where blueEnergy teaches wind turbine building workshops to educate people on the basics of wind power, get them excited about renewable energy and encourage insightful reflection on energy consumption.
Nicaragua has very strong renewable energy potential, leading the way in Central America in geothermal potential and possessing abundant hydro, wind, solar and biomass potential. The identified total renewable energy potential capacity is 4,500 MW, compared to the country’s power demand of 600 MW (as of 2010).
But as of 2010, only 5% of this potential capacity had been developed and the country remained severely energy poor, with only 65% of its population having access to electricity. With this disparity in mind, in late 2009, blueEnergy leveraged its experience, reputation and relationships in Nicaragua to begin an earnest push to create a renewable energy association to help change this situation in Nicaragua.
With the collaboration of many great partners, the association was formally created on June 17, 2010, under the name “Asociación Nicaragüense para las Energías Renovables y el Ambiente” (RENOVABLES).
The association’s objectives are to:
1) Promote broader, efficient and fair use of renewable energy in Nicaragua by implementing joint projects, demonstrating the viability of renewable energy, gathering lessons learned and sharing them – in other words, lead by example and show the possibility of a preferable development path.
2) Build capacity in the renewable energy field by improving knowledge base, research (both technical and theoretical) and performing information dissemination through conferences, manuals, articles, meetings, and public education campaigns; build the capacity both of association members and also external stakeholders including the public.
3) Build sector-wide alliances by connecting the renewable energy theme to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and by creating a centralized “office” for renewable energy that can serve to facilitate foreign investment in the sector.
4) Perform public policy research and make suggestions and recommendations to the Ministry of Energy and Mines to improve the legal and regulatory framework to encourage strong growth of the renewable energy sector.
The Renovables Program complements the Holistic Community Development Program by encouraging national support for rural electrification and by supporting education initiatives on the Caribbean Coast on energy-related topics like energy efficiency and management.
WindEmpowerment, a global association that supports the development of locally built wind turbines for sustainable rural electrification, was launched in April 2011. The association grew out of years of build-up and a milestone meeting of organizations involved with Piggott-class wind turbines in Dakar, Sénégal in February of 2011. blueEnergy played a lead role in the coordination of this historic meeting and in the formulation of the association’s charter.
This association works towards its mission 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