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Archive for February, 2010

Weekly Power Up!

  • Sanaa, Yemen could be first capital to run out of water. Green Empowerment projects protect watersheds that replenish aquifers.
  • A portable “rose wind turbine” for the Rose city. Quiet, stylish and efficient – this is perfect for car camping or a day at the beach. Go green with style!
  • Leave it to Princeton to increase the efficiency of converting mechanical to electrical NRG using Human or Ambient Energy with nanoribbon tech.
  • An interesting inspriation leads to a great device – inspired by leeches, this charger pops out when the device is done charging.

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Caitlyn Peake, a PSU environmental science graduate and current AsoFenix intern highlights the inauguration of the new micro-hydroelectric project in El Roblar Nicaragua.

Local residents view the turbine

After five years of discussion, planning and work El Roblar has electricity.  To inaugurate their micro-hydroelectric project the community organized a celebration featuring traditional dancing, poetry, music, food and guest speakers.

The community made over 250 nacatamales to serve at the inauguration

In attendance were some of the people and organizations that played an integral part in the success of the project including: the local mayor for the region, Jamie Muñoz and the AsoFénix staff, Cáritas, the National Agrarian University and Suni Solar.

A family uses a mechanized sugar cane cutter

El Roblar is located in the mountainous region around San José de los Remates, Boaco, Nicaragua.  The community is a steep hour and a half walk from the nearest town and had no hope of ever receiving energy from the national grid because it is not accessible by road.  However, the community has reliable and abundant sources of water, which has enabled them to utilize a micro-hydro turbine to provide them with energy.  The systems which has a 17 kilowatts potential supplies energy for 32 houses, the local chapel and the school.

Guests visit the turbine in the machine house

Due to the electrification of the community, families now have access to clean, bright light to study, work and cook by.  In addition, having electricity allows families more access to information and communication through cell phones, radios and television.

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Brandon Gast, a Portland State University International Studies student, shares his experiences on a PSU Capstone trip to Nicaragua.

Nicaraguan Landscape

For our first day in the field we visited the village of El Roblar.  We were able to take a look at past projects including a micro-hydro electricity generator, which provided power to an estimated 200 residents.  We saw first hand the positive results of work done by the NGOs AsoFenix and Green Empowerment.  The highlight for me was being able to spend the night in the house of one of the locals.

Journal Entry –  Dec. 28th 2009

“ My wake up call this morning was Juan Antonio bringing his calf through the ‘living room’ out to the calf’s mother at 4am.  You don’t see that every day.”

The bulk of our work was carried out in the villages of Bramadero and El Jocote.  These villages are located in the dry highlands in central Nicaragua so the emphasis of most of the projects is definitely on water conservation. In fact, right before we arrived in the area, AsoFenix had had to drop down the pump for their solar water pump in Bramadero in order to reach the water level.  The rainy season had been much drier than expected unfortunately which served as a stark reminder of the gravity of our work.

Our primary purpose for being there was to test water and soil samples to gather   baseline data for future projects.  We also installed two weather stations to monitor the day-to-day conditions for the two villages.  Nobody has collected this kind of information before in this area so hopefully our work will go a long way to better understanding what is needed to help in these poor rural areas.  We’re just laying the foundation — others will need to follow in our footsteps to continue the work.

Brandon Gast

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Francie Royce and her husband Michael are the founders of Green Empowerment. They are currently in the Philippines evaluating our past installments and documenting the wonderful progress of our partners. SIBAT, which means spear, is making strides in sustainable agriculture. Taste the story below.


Landing in Manila on February 11, after a
22 hour trip from Portland, to LA then through Seoul, Korea, we headed to our Quezon City hotel, the Fersal Inn, for a nap. A basket of sweet yellow mangoes, a bunch of bananas, raw sugar and a jar of honey sent by Shen Maglinte of SIBAT, a Green Empowerment partner, surprised us at hotel reception.The next day we met our friends from SIBAT for lunch at a near-by restaurant, The Tree House. Shen had ordered in advance, so as soon as we sat down, the food started coming. Tilapia, milk fish, sautéed greens in oyster sauce topped with tofu, stuffed lettuce rolls, roasted chicken, hot and sour flavored soup, and on it came. After a filling lunch, we all loaded into tricycles for a short ride to the SIBAT office to meet Ileene the marketing manager of the SIBAT organic foods store and for Michael to begin his interviews with Executive Director Vicki Lopez.

The next afternoon the SIBAT driver picked us up and after collecting Ileene and Vicki, then Vicki’s friends all on slower-than-planned Filipino time, we headed two hours north to TarLac to visit the SIBAT organic farm.

It was past sundown when workers at the farm greeted us with boiled cassava, (filling) and lemon grass tea (refreshing) as we chatted and got to know Vicki’s friends. Back into the van, we headed out to dinner. We were the only customers at The May Farm Restaurant, whose menu heralded organic vegetables and rare meats. Mounted on the wall, heads of small deer looked down on our table and an array of photos showed off the hunting prowess of the owner and his son. One was a photo of a younger man carrying a hoary wild boar on his back with blood dripping down his legs. A brief allusion to the mysterious death of the owner and his son and suggestion of a political murder added to the hunter’s mystic and the weirdness of the restaurant. The soup was tasty, though.

Back at the farm—- Raised beds are planted with a wide variety of rotated crops of leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables. Deep purple egg plants hang from their plants ready to harvest. Farm workers make sure there is enough harvest each week to provision the small organic food store in Quezon City. The farm is a teaching opportunity for surrounding farmers to learn sustainable agriculture. SIBAT’s goal is to teach the teachers to help farmers learn how to farm sustainably, without being dependent on commercial seed and fertilizers.

The main farm building is built of decorative woven palm panels over bamboo poles with a palm thatch roof. We slept soundly on a foam pad laid out under mosquito netting on a split bamboo floor. Roosters all over the country side competing with each other woke us before dawn, early enough to sit outside and watch sunlight creep over the green rice fields of the adjacent farm, shining on the farmer who was already working in his field. A farm worker showed me where hot cups of coffee sat on a counter waiting for takers. The coffee was thick and sweetened with raw sugar. After daylight I found three gently curled, soft downy feathers lying on top of our mosquito netting. Rooster noise woke us but the sparrow flying through our bedroom didn’t.

Posted by Francie Royce

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Weekly Power Up!

  • Using seeds from Salicornia-salt water algae- is another option for creating biofuelsfor Jet Engines- CO2 neutral.
  • The Great Lakes are getting primed for off shore wind capabilities. Ontario Canada is leading the way in renewable NRG. Oh Canada!
  • New FloDesign wind turbines could revolutionize the industry. US Dept. of Energy agrees with an $8.3million grant.
  • Healthy homes from adobe brick, cob, eco-villages. Watch the New Earth documentary – it’s adobe-rably informative

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The actions of Walt Ratterman speak more clearly about his character than anything I could write. He has personally brought light to thousands of people around the world.  For example, he was the driving force behind bringing solar power to 37 clinics in Burma, serving over  170,000 internally displaced people a year. We had the honor of knowing and learning from Walt, an exemplary humanitarian dedicated to improving life around the world with renewable energy. We traveled and worked together in Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Peru and Nicaragua, while he was Program Director of Green Empowerment from 2003-2006. He worked side by side installing solar panels with Shuar natives in the jungles of Ecuador, traversed the rapids of rivers in Borneo to help on a micro-hydro project, and taught renewable energy in the highlands of Peru. He could easily make friends with people around the world, despite the language barriers, because anyone could relate to his sense of humor and down-to-earth friendliness. In 2006 he founded SunEnergy Power International , carried on his long-time work with Knightsbridge International, and continued to inspire everyone with his hard work, unwavering sense of justice and belief that everyone deserves to be treated as equals. In January, 2010, his dedication to humanity brought him to Haiti, where he was working on the installation of solar power for clinics. He was there when the earthquake hit. Friends and family searched for him in the ruins and sent their prayers.  Tragically, he did not survive, but his legacy lives on. He has taught me, and hundreds of others, that humility is a powerful force that can change the world.

-Anna Garwood and the Green Empowerment team

As a testiment to how many lives he has touched, as of writing this, there are 1882 fans of his Facebook page…

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walt-Ratterman-Haiti-Mission/275563896042?ref=mf

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Weekly Power Up!

In order to keep Green Empowerment’s blog and its readers up to date on global energy issues, topics and other on-goings a weekly post with links that highlights these maters will be posted on the Green Empowerment’s blog and titled ‘Weekly Power Up!’. Please note that this is a collection of news sources and that Green Empowerment does not directly support these articles.

  • Go clubbing and light up (literally) the place with your feet! Green Empowerment is dancing of excitement for this creative alternative energy supply. Partying = Power!
  • 2010 Marks the end of a commitment from 1990 to take steps to preserve biodiversity. Those attempts have fallen well short of the intended goals. In an attempt to build awareness and springboard a stronger response, the UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity.

I hope you enjoyed the first installment of ‘Weekly Power Up!’

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