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Announcement of January 2005 Grupo Fenix Solar-Cultural Course

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Posted by nicksanspam on August 20, 2004, 10:01 pm

Dear Everybody,
    Here below is the announcement of the next session of our popular
Solar-Cultural Course.  The Grupo Fenix has just finished the successful
summer session, earlier than usual.  For 2005, we are moving the summer
session back to August but the next session starts at the beginning of
January.  The arrival date is set as Sunday, the 2nd, but the actual
course starts on Monday, the 3rd. This time, I will be again teaching
part of the course and we will be spending a week out in the countryside
installing a community PV system, building solar cookers and finding out
how people live in remote 3rd World villages.
     Please pass this announcement on to anybody you think might be
interested, since this is the major way we advertise this course.  If any
of you wish to receive an MS Word version of this announcement, just send
an e-mail and I will be happy to send one on to you.  Feel free to put
this announcement up on bulletin boards or anywhere you feel appropriate
to get the word out. Both the Grupo Fenix www.grupofenix.org and Skyheat
Associates are public non-profit organizations and are currently doing all
this work with no grant money, so we need your help getting the word out.
    Thank you,

Richard Komp PhD. President
Skyheat Associates
17 Rockwell Rd SE
Jonesport ME 04649
207-497-2204 sunwatt@juno.com


An opportunity to offer your hands, heart, and a unique gift:
Solar Energy to a rural community in Nicaragua!

The Grupo Fenix invites interested parties to participate directly in its
development and vision. We offer a 12-day workshop/tour in which
participants learn about solar energy systems, study applications
specific to Central America, visit renewable energy installations, and
install a PV lighting system in a rural village.  The program includes
recreational and cultural activities. The next 12-day workshop will run
from the 2nd of January through the 13th, 2005. The cost of the entire
trip, excluding air fare and airport expenses, is $50 per person, which
includes a $00 subsidy towards solar equipment for the villages and $00
to development funds in the barrios and villages where Fenix is working.
The course is taught in English and Spanish with simultaneous translation
into English. (Spanish ability greatly enhances your experience of Nicaragua,
and the Summer course will be taught mostly by Nicaraguans and include more
Spanish.) The course design for 2005 includes new hands-on experiences and
highlights the socio economic impact Grupo Fenix has had in the process of
implementing renewable energy for sustainable development. New students
welcome, and previous students are encouraged to return.

A PROBLEM: More than 60% of Nicaragua's rural population have no electricity,
and the cost of electricity is high for poor Nicaraguans. Rural poor rely on
wood to fuel in-home stoves for cooking, and more than half the energy used in
the country is firewood for cooking. The resultant deforestation has dried up
up local rivers, with serious erosion, loss of top soil, and mud slides that
have killed thousands. Campesinos must walk progressively farther to encounter
firewood or purchase the wood at rising cost. Health concerns from cooking
with firewood include respiratory diseases, which now leads contaminated water
as a major cause of illness and death. These problems particularly affect
women and children, who are most likely to spend significant time in smoke-
filled kitchens.

A SOLUTION: Grupo Fenix was started in 1996 by a group of enthusiastic
engineering students at the National Engineering University (UNI).  They
chose the name "Grupo Fenix" receiving inspiration from the mythical bird
of Egyptian sun worship, the Phoenix, which is forever renewed and expresses
the hope of these young Nicaraguans that their poor, strife-torn country
would rise from the ashes of war and build an enlightened society. Since
1996, Grupo Fenix has developed into an association of organizations with
academic, non profit and business affiliations which  have been promoting,
researching and implementing the use of renewable energy in Nicaragua,
especially in rural areas. Grupo Fenix counts among its accomplishments:
* Establishment of two solar cooker workshops, one in the Capital city
Managua and one in the countryside.
* Design of over 16 new types of solar cookers.
* Construction and repair of over  80 solar cookers.
* Construction of  several styles of solar water heaters.
* Construction of  three solar dryers.
* Construction of  prototypes for solar instrument sterilizer and solar
bee's wax melter.
* Establishment of two workshops for local manufacture of photovoltaic
(PV) panels, the first a small business in Managua and the second run by
land mine survivors in a remote village.
* The construction of more than 300 PV panels.
* The construction of several hundred ballasts for 12 volt fluorescent
* The development of inexpensive LED reading lights for students in
remote villages.
* Installation of hundreds of PV systems in towns without previous access
to electricity.
* Installation of a  microhydro system, several others in design stage.
* Construction of 5 Biogas systems.
* Providing over a thousand  hours of training in the use and
construction of renewable energy technologies to all levels of
participants, from campesinos to scientists.  
* Organization and hosting for eight years of  Nicaragua's only annual
Renewable Energy Fair.
* Presentation of monthly popular education conferences on renewable
energy themes, almost without interruption since 1996.

Highlights of Course:

* Visit  the Grupo Fenix Renewable Energy educational and production
centers in the city of Managua, learn about the variety of activities
involved in making renewable energy a part of life in Nicaragua.
* Spend  a week in remote rural communities where Grupo Fenix has
installed renewable energy systems, gaining intimate knowledge about the
community, and experience the impact of solar energy on their lives.
* Learn about the history and philosophy of using solar energy,
principles of design for solar cookers, water and air heaters, and food
driers, and the latest advances in the field of photovoltaics.  
* Hands on experience installing a PV solar electric system in a remote
* Hands on experience building and testing permanent solar box cookers.
* Solar cooked meals.
* Celebrate the sun with locally written songs, poems, dancing and
cultural exchange. (You are invited to share songs, dance, juggling in
the culture nights.  
* In depth discussions with villagers and local non-profits on problems,
successes and future possibilities of renewable energy as a part of local
sustainable development.

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS:  The Solar Culture Course is offered twice yearly,
after  January the following session of the course will be from the 31st
of July thru the 11th of August, 2005.  Intensive  one week Courses in
Solar Spanish in the village of Unile, $50.00 (See www.grupofenix.org )
Option of individual non-structured stay in the village for holidays, at
$5.00 a day or a total of $05.00 per week.  Proceeds go to the
development of the Village Solar Training Centers.

Weekend Tour after the Solar-Cultural Course to a site selected by your
group: options include twin volcanic island of Ometepe and Microhydro site,
Colonial Granada, , the deep volcanic lake of Laguna de Apoya, fishing
village and estuaries, or other options depending on course participants.
(Additional costs involved).  

     Richard Komp, Ph.D., the course advisor and instructor for the
January sessions, is the author of PRACTICAL PHOTOVOLTAICS and has been
working on solar cells since 1960. He has taught numerous courses and
workshops on solar energy all over the world; is currently the president
of the Maine Solar Energy association and has a small photovoltaic
company, Sun Watt Corporation. Richard also teaches graduate courses on
Solar Energy at the UNI.
     Susan Kinne, initiator of the solar cultural/course, has been on
staff at the UNI for the past  15 years, and is currently director of the
Fenix Program for Alternative Energy.
      Nicaraguan Grupo FENIX staff consists of pre-grad and young
engineers and technicians who have made renewable energy their life
mission. The rural staff now includes land mine survivors who were
trained as solar technicians during the 1999- 2001 project directed to
FENIX thru Falls Brook Centre of Canada.

PAYMENT: A $0 deposit or full payment by December 15th 2004 will save
you a place in the course, which will be limited to a total of 15
participants. Checks should be made out to SKYHEAT ASSOCIATES and sent
to: Richard Komp, Skyheat Associates, 17 Rockwell Rd. SE, Jonesport ME
04649. If you only pay the deposit by check, the remaining amount is to
be paid the first day of the course in cash (U.S. dollars).

AIR TRAVEL:  We can recommend a "Green" travel agency, EARTH ROUTES,
travel@earthroutes.net 207-326-8635, RFD 1, Box 22-B, Penobscot ME 04476.
Each airline ticket plants three trees through the non-profit Seed Tree.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Richard Komp (primary contact) e-mail:
sunwatt@juno.com, phone: 207-497-2204, or Susan Kinne in Nicaragua,
e-mail: skinne1@juno.com  Website:  http://www.grupofenix.org  

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