Archive for September, 2009

Sun, Wind and Gears

Join us Sunday October 4th as we ride through Washington County’s beautiful landscape, and all for a worthy cause.

This event harnesses the Portland area’s international spirit and focus on sustainability to support a local nonprofit that works to stimulate long-term, positive change in the developing world.


Sun, Wind & Gears, presented by SolarWorld, is a 35 mile bike-borne odyssey of renewable energy and local natural gems.   All of this and more on October 4th!

  • Join a rare tour of SolarWorld’s plant to learn how they harness the power of the sun
  • Visit a college whose cafeteria uses garden-grown vegetables and onsite worm composting
  • Experience the beauty of a 725 acre wildlife preserve nestled within Hillsboro



Green Empowerment partners with rural communities in the developing world to implement renewable energy and water systems that alleviate poverty and preserve the environment.

SW logo

Hillsboro, OR is the site of SolarWorld’s new Americas headquarters and the location of the largest and most advanced single solar photovoltaics production facility in this region of the world.  Your ride will start and finish at their Hillsboro facility.

To register and learn more about the event head over to: SunWindGear

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Daniel Soto, a Ph.D. student in Physics at Stanford, worked with FEDETA in Quito Ecuador through a MAP Sustainable Energy Fellowship. While working with FEDETA Daniel had the opportunity to travel to the Amazon and work on a project that used river turbines to generate electricity for a small community called San José.

Daniel Soto in the Amazon

Daniel Soto in the Amazon

San José has about 200 residents and is located across the Coca River from Puerto Francisco de Orellano, a town of about 40,000.  San Jose, despite being about 1 km away from a town with electricity and communications has no grid connection.  We got on the bus in Quito and arrived in Coca after a long, hot, and beautiful ride.  That night we were treated to a torrential downpour and a two hour power outage to remind us that we are on the Amazonian frontier between modernity and ancient rain forest.

Constructing the new turbine platform

Constructing the new turbine platform

The next morning we took a dugout canoe to get to the other side of the river.  On the canoe ride I could see both the turbines of San Jose and the power and cell towers of Coca.  It seemed absurd that power could not be strung across the river.  Evidently it wouldn’t be profitable.

The turbine project is a pilot project that worked for a bit but needs some serious attention to get it back running again.  The turbines sit on rafts that are now a bit flooded and have broken blades.  We replaced a couple of busted blades on one of the three turbines and had it running.  The next task was to replace one of the rafts.   The previous raft for the river turbine was built using locally harvested wood. Unfortunately, the wood has soaked up a ton of water, attracted termites, and lost its buoyancy. Our partners on another installation have used plastic barrels filled with polyurethane foam to provide buoyancy for the turbine platform.  In the office we made our own barrels and brought them to the river.

For my last day in Coca, we constructed the raft that will replace the flooded raft that the third of the river turbines sat on.  With the entire raft and floor built, we cleared a spot on the river bank of branches and whatnot and tied the raft to trees on shore.  I didn’t get to mount the generator and get it going but at least there was some small sense of accomplishment before I left Coca to return to the Quito office.

Finished turbine platform

Finished turbine platform

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Bruce Park and Steve Johnson, two representatives from Christadelphian Meal a Day Fund of the Americas, went to check in on the projects that the organization is currently funding: Alto Peru and Suro Antivo.

Both of them had a great visit and they left very enthusiastic about the partnership that has been formed and posted a blog about the trip:


Their blog is very comprehensive and includes lots of photos and video footage from their trip to Peru. It is great to see the projects in development and the communities that they are benefiting.

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