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Adventures in Renewable Energy Consulting: Set Net Point and Pearl Lagoon, Nicaragua

We got to visit a place that few people ever see -- Set Net, Nicaragua, on the Caribbean coast north of Pearl Lagoon. No cars, no stores, no restaurants, no motels. A self-sufficient subsistance fishing town. Their Blue Energy wind turbine had a breakdown, so we went up to fetch it back to the Inatech shop in Bluefields. 100 miles each way in a panga!

Some houses on the Bluefields waterfront, which also shows why you don't drink the water down here.

The panga ride was smooth until we hit the open ocean....then it became very pounding and hard on the butt. Some rum on the way helped that, though.

Unloading the panga at Set Net.

Part of the town of Set Net, population 100 + pet dogs, pet monkeys, and pet turtles.

The Blue Energy Set Net turbine, by the schoolhouse and church.

No fancy tractors, winches, or 4WD trucks to raise and lower turbines here.....just a bunch of folks and a block and tackle.

Rich, Sebastian, Rolando and DanB remove the blades. It's a 12 foot machine from Hugh Piggott's design.

The folks at Blue Energy have some serious climate issues to deal with here for their wind turbines. They get more rust in 10 months (above) than we get in Colorado in 10 years!

After a snack of red beans and rice with fried turtle at a local resident's house, it was off to an island in the Pearl Cays for the night. They sent us dinner --- coco bread and lobster. mmmmm! Plus a jug of the local moonshine, "cucusa," made from sugar cane, corn, and pineapple, then distilled till it burns your throat. Great stuff! Then snorkeling on an unnamed island in the AM to get rid of the hangover.

On the way back south, we stopped at the town of Pearl Lagoon to see what was up with their turbine at the PLACE school. A rectifier enclosure full of water certainly didn't help things (they get LOTS of rain here), but the bearing was worn out for sure.

The PLACE turbine.

Private vehicles are very rare on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, because they cost so much to get here (no road be Managua and Bluefields!) and because folks are so impoverished. So it's mostly cabs and carrying things by hand. Here we hand carry the PLACE turbine through a backyard baseball game to the panga.

Back to Bluefields at last.....here in this photo Denver and Octavio disassemble a toasted turbine at the Inatech shop.

The goal of our conference down here (and the reason the awesome folks at Blue Energy brought us down here to Nica) is for a week-long brainstorming session with the Blue Energy staff and volunteers and Inatech students on how to best deal with the massive difficulties they have to overcome to keep the wind turbines built by Inatech students operating--climate, logistics, education, maintenance, availability of tools, and so on. Things get difficult and costly very fast since there's no road from here to Managua. Your only options are a 9-hour drive plus a long and costly boat ride down the river, or to fly it all in.

Cheers everyone.....more news in a few days as the conference gets rolling.

DANF

(ADMIN)