Experts to spread renewable energy word in Nicaragua

The Green Empowerment participants will help Nicaraguans grow more vegetables through solar-powered water pump and energy systems.

The Green Empowerment participants will help Nicaraguans grow more vegetables through solar-powered water pump and energy systems.

Several Portland renewable energy pros are heading to Nicaragua to install solar panels and spread the sustainability gospel abroad.

The team, which includes representatives of Portland General Electric and Sunlight Solar Energy, is working with the Green Empowerment group, a Portland nonprofit that touts sustainable development worldwide. Green Empowerment assembled a unit that will install a solar irrigation system to help improve nutrition in the rural city of El Jocote. The system will help local residents pump water to grow tomatoes and other vegetables to diversity their diet and, if they sell the surplus food, their income.

Many of the locals live on rice and beans most of the year.

“It’s a chance for Portlanders who usually deal with only their small part of extremely sophisticated, commercial-scale renewable energy to get their hands dirty building a project from start-to-finish. In doing so, they will help improve life for a family in Nicaragua,” said David Lindoo, a trip leader who works for Sunlight Solar Energy. Lindoo worked on a 2010 Green Empowerment solar project in Peru.

Green Empowerment hosts annual service learning trips with such universities as Stanford and Portland State. In Nicaragua, Green Empowerment has been working with the Nicaraguan-run non-governmental organization Asofenix to give rural communities access to water and electricity through renewable energy.

The local team, which includes workers from 12 companies and agencies, leaves for Nicaragua April 6.

“I’ve never had an opportunity to build a small-scale renewable system and look forward to learning and working with local communities to do so,” said Nay Shayan, who manages PGE’s commercial and industrial clean wind program.

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