Archive for the ‘technical training’ Category

 Our next 2 day training on “Renewable Energy in the Developing World” — solar photovoltaics and solar powered water pumping — will be held with Portland State University, all day Saturday and Sunday on November 20 & 21, 2010.  For more information, please contact: jason@greenempowerment.org. To register, please contact Sherri at Green Empowerment, (503) 284-5774.


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Green Empowerment is co-hosting the Seminar “Biodigester: Clean
technology to Mitigate Climate Change” at EARTH University, Costa
, May 13-14 for hands-on workshops and presentations from experts
from across Latin America. The event is preceded by the strategic
meeting of Red de Biodigestores para Latinoamerica y el Caribe.

To learn more about the seminar please view the flyer below or view the agenda of the seminar – contact information is on page 4.

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Come join us!  This workshop covers the skills necessary to design and wire a solar system on a community building, health center, or school –and– the skills needed to size a water pumping system to deliver clean water to a village of rural farmers. In addition, the course includes information not usually discussed in other programs — working with partner NGOs overseas, engaging in social and cultural issues, identifying and training local villagers to operate and maintain systems, completing the logistics of equipment purchase, identifying possible productive uses of the system in addition to lighting, and discussing case studies from GE’s wealth of experiences over the last 12 years. Hands-on exercises are an integral part of the curriculum.  Please check out a blog overview of last October’s course:

Dates: 2.5 days – October 23 – 25, 2009

Times: Oct. 23 6PM – 9PM, Oct. 24 9AM – 5PM, Oct. 25 9AM – 4PM

Partners: In coordination with the Portland chapter of Engineers Without Borders and Portland State University’s Environmental Club

Cost: $250 (discounts available for students, Green Empowerment supporters, and EWB members)

Location: at Portland State University — room TBD

Contact: Jason at (503) 284-5774 -or- jason@greenempowerment.org

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Language: English
Dates: November 13 – December 8 (10 2hr Sessions)
Registration Deadline: November 12, 21:00 GMT (13:00 PST)
Cost: $285 general

The purpose of this course is to develop the skills of professionals, students, and engineers in the evaluation, design, installation and management of isolated power generation systems (such as
micro-hydroelectric projects).

The course is an extension of the renewable energy training courses that Green Empowerment has been co-hosting with Soluciones Practicas-ITDG at the Center for Training and Demonstration of Appropriate Technologies in Peru, for the last 4 years. The courses, which draw people from around the world, have focused on the technical and social aspects of small-scale micro-hydro, wind, and solar projects for rural development.

This year, we are joining forces with the Latin American Organization of Energy (OLADE) which coordinates Ministries of Energy from 26 countries to provide secure, integrated and sustainable energy to the countries of Latin America. During October 2008, 125 participants from 26 Ministries of Energy participated in this year’s online class on micro-hydropower.

In November, we are extending this course on-line to the English speaking world. While participants from 6 Ministries of Energy from African countries are already signed up to participate, we’d like to invite anyone interested to join the online course in English.

The course will be taught online, with live lectures and opportunities to ask questions and interact with other students. For more information and for registration, click here for the .PDF (if you don’t have Acrobat Reader, download it here).

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Green Empowerment recently offered a technical training to over 30 participants (October 17-19) — arranged in partnership with Portland’s professional chapter of Engineers Without Borders and hosted by the Environmental Science & Management program at Portland State University (PSU).  The 2.5 day training focused on “Renewable Energy & Clean Water for the Developing World” and connected directly with Green Empowerment’s mission to partner with local NGOs and rural communities in Latin America and Southeast Asia to develop renewable energy and water projects in order to alleviate poverty and improve the environment.  In addition to local professional engineers and students from PSU, participants in the course included: Portlanders interested in international development, community based projects, water, and renewable energy; students from the University of Oregon; students from Linfield College; and Green Empowerment (GE) Interns & Volunteers.
The first evening session was led by Jason Selwitz, GE’s Director of Service Learning. He offered an introduction to GE, an overview of developing world conditions and needs (lack of power, lack of water), and how GE works to improve these conditions. As with most rural, off-grid service projects, the extreme importance of the cultural and social situation was frequently emphasized. This means learning about the “real” past and future needs of the community, as well as the necessity of creating reliable community-based upkeep (maintenance and repair) of any system. We looked at a case study of a solar water pump installation in the Philippines.
The second day was taught by Michel Maupoux, GE’s Renewable Energy Engineer. This began with a primer and short lab on electricity basics and then led into a discussion of solar power projects for rural communities. We learned about the extensive engineering and planning behind even a small installation. Michel offered several first-person stories, based on his own hands-on experience with projects in several countries. We were reminded that cultural and social differences can be interesting and are always challenging and are sometimes the largest (i.e., most time-consuming) part of a project.
The first part of the third day was also taught by Michel Maupoux. This session covered solar water systems, including project concepts as well as engineering and design. The remainder of the day was taught by Greg Price, MBA student at PSU and staff member of Abundant Renewable Energy (of Newberg, Oregon). The session was about wind energy. Greg gave us some basic background information about wind mill design theory and power production, as well as overall project considerations. We finished the day and the Training by assembling a small wind mill just outside the PSU Science II building.
Several of the PSU students, their professor (John Rueter), and Jason Selwitz will travel to several villages in Nicaragua at the end of this year to do a study tour/service project as a component of their  “Sustainable Innovations for Tomorrow’s Social Entrepreneurs” project team.  During their trip, they hope to: learn about a solar pump/water project, visit a recently installed solar water pump, meet with community members, learn about irrigation for home vegetable gardens, build solar cookers, plant trees, build an improved cook stove, help install a wind turbine demonstration, install 2-3 solar panels, learn about revolving loans fund for the household solar system project, and finally spend the night at a school and celebrate with the families who have electricity for the first time.

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Michel teaching solar techs

Engineers went head to head with village solar techs, or as they called themselves UOPGES, (Units of Operation and Management of Sustainable Energy). After a long day of technical class work and discussions about how to maintain of the nearly 600 solar home systems installed in the jungle, it was time to play soccer. It was 10pm and just getting going. Stadium lights illuminated the concrete platform with makeshift goal posts on each end, and a crowd gathered around for the big showdown. The most amazing thing about the match wasn’t the world-cup quality footwork or header goals, but simply who was playing. In such a stratified society, it was a rare moment to have the leaders from Ecuador’s National Electricity Council (CONELEC-Consejo Nacional de Electricidad) and overeducated professional engineers from the nations’ big electrical companies playing against indigenous villagers who live hours by foot or canoe to the closest road.

What brought them all to Coca, this small city in the Amazon, was the Workshop on Technical and Financial Strengthening for Operators of the UOPGES co-hosted by our local NGO partner, FEDETA (Ecuadorian Foundation for Appropriate Technology) and Green Empowerment. Each morning Michel taught the design, installation and upkeep of solar power systems with class work, and hands-on work assembling solar PV systems. This was a refresher course for the 40 village technicians who have been trained by FEDETA to install and maintain the solar PV systems in their community. They are also responsible for collecting a small fee from each household to build a fund to replace the batteries. The big electrical companies hold the fund, and are then responsible for replacing the batteries and any other parts as needed.

While the systems are managed by the community itself, the PV systems are officially property of the state-owned electrical companies (and paid for by a government fund) and thus they are responsible for making sure that the systems keep providing electrical service in the long term. It is not uncommon to hear of dead solar systems scattered around the developing world because they didn’t have any system of maintaining them, replacing batteries, and fixing them when parts wear out. So, in Ecuador, they are trying to build system maintenance into the whole program. At least that was the mission of this workshop.

Each afternoon, we facilitated discussion groups of UOPGES and electrical company engineers to dialog around what are the roles. Each afternoon was dedicated to hammering out the administrative, social and financial issues. The first day we formed “Mesas de dialogo” (tables of dialog) with a mix of people from the UOPGES and electrical companies. Someone from GE or FEDETA facilitated each group dialog around the roles of the UOPGES and the roles of the companies, and the corresponding problems that are inhibiting them from fulfilling their roles. Each group presented their roles and difficulties in front of the whole group. The process of self-analysis reminded me of Paulo Frerre’s popular education.

The next day, the UOPGES gathered at separate tables from the electrical companies and CONELEC to propose systemic solutions to each of the problems that had been presented the day before. During the presentations of results, the UOPGES, who come from very remote, poor villages spoke with incredible confidence about their demands on the electrical companies. The electrical companies, CONELEC and the Fondo de Solidaridad committed to meeting in the next 2 months to address the problems presented and to begin the process of forming renewable energy departments within the electrical companies responsible for attending to the needs of the UOPGES (maintaining a stock of replacement parts, reviewing accounts, replacing batteries when needed, etc.) The whole process was incredibly participative and encouraged a real and healthy self-assessment of the program and suggestions on what each player needs to do to make it more sustainable. It seemed to be an experiment in real democracy.

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