SEI Newsletter
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Issue 84 - April 2010
Upcoming SEI Workshops
Solar Sisters
SEI has some exciting workshops coming up, and there are still a few spaces left. If you are interested in Wind Power, Solar Hot Water, Solar Electric Systems, or Appropriate Technology for the Developing World, SEI has something for you. Check out the upcoming workshops listed below.

Denver Mayor Hickenlooper Visits SEI
RE for Educators
Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, presumed to be the democratic nominee for Colorado Governor, visited Solar Energy International last week on his visit to the Western Slope of Colorado. The mayor's regional tour was mainly focused on businesses, jobs and alternative energy initiatives. “We're continuing to try and get out to every corner of the state multiple times, and ask people what are their thoughts, their sets of issues, how can the state government do a better job of helping their businesses grow, help new businesses start, and to try and connect the dots,” Hickenlooper explained.

The Mayor also toured Carbondale's Third Street Center, the new multi-tenant non-profit center where SEI will soon have offices and a classroom.

Is the US Losing the Clean Energy Race?
Wind turbines
Ready to move to new domestic issues after a win on health care, U.S. President Barack Obama has again turned his focus to energy. But many clean energy advocates are criticizing the President's plan, saying that it will put too much focus on oil and gas drilling, and not enough on renewables.

The details of the President's plan have not been fully laid out, but in recent days he has announced plans to increase offshore gas and oil drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf of the U.S. Some onlookers see this as a way for the President to get bipartisan support for a broader energy strategy that all political parties can support.

Some environmental groups and renewable energy advocates say this move contradicts Obama's earlier campaign pledge to avoid more offshore drilling and will delay an aggressive focus on renewables, putting the U.S. further behind other countries in the race to develop clean forms of energy.

Read the entire article on

Straw Bale Building Making a Comeback
A recent article in The Economist describes how building with straw is environmentally friendly, energy efficient, and earthquake resistant. A year ago, reports the Economist, a test conducted at the University of Nevada’s large-scale structures laboratory showed that straw-bale constructions could withstand twice the amount of ground motion recorded in the Northridge earthquake that hit Los Angeles in 1994.

SEI Associate and long time friend David Eisenberg, chairman of the United States’ Green Building Council’s code committee, has been working for years to see the prejudice against straw houses eliminated, and to show that straw is, in many ways, an ideal building material.

To learn how to build with straw, check out SEI's upcoming workshop on Straw Bale Construction and Natural Plasters, August 30 - September 3, in Paonia, Colorado.

As David Eisenberg observes, “the lesson of the Three Little Pigs isn’t to avoid straw. It’s that you don’t let a pig build your house.”

Solar Electric Light Fund Wins Ashoka Award
Chile earthquake
photo: SELF
SELF has been awarded one of two early entry prizes in the Ashoka Changemakers Women/ Tools/Technology challenge! Sponsored by ExxonMobil and the International Center for Research on Women, this global competition seeks to identify innovations which enable women to access and use the power of tools and technology to expand their opportunities for economic advancement.

SELF's entry focuses on their Solar Market Garden project in Benin, West Africa, where solar drip irrigation systems are helping women farmers feed their familes and grow valuable fruit and vegetable crops to sell in the market. With the project now entering its third year, participating women have more than doubled their income!

Click here to view a video of the SELF Benin project.

SEI Alumni News from the Developing World
SEI alumni Jack & Leslie McKeon have been working tirelessly to help bring solar electricity to Sierra Leone. Their organization, Friends of Sierra Leone, recently partnered with Energy for Opportunity, an NGO started by Simon Willans, another SEI alum. Together, they installed a large solar array at the Kamakwie Secondary School, a rural school where the McKeon's taught in the late 1960’s. With over 1,000 students now, the school now also has what is probably the largest solar array of any school in Sierra Leone – over 1500 watts of electricity.

Jack and Leslie report that PV powered electricity now reaches all six buildings in the school compound, and that the attendance of both students and teachers has improved! They also provided several small gooseneck study lamps for students to rent or buy, each with its own mini solar panel, which can charge the lamp as well as a cell phone. According to the McKeon's "After years of promises and disappointments with all kinds of development projects, that this project materialized with such speed and efficiency was overwhelming for everyone - us, the school and the community. Word spread rapidly among the Kamakwie community throughout Sierra Leone, and wherever we went people had heard of the solar array and embraced us."

Upcoming Events
IRRI logo
Introducción a la Energia Solar
23 y 24 de Abril, 2010 - Guadalajara, Mexico

Este curso cubrirá los fundamentos de la energía solar con módulos fotovoltaicos, haciendo énfasis en las instalaciones urbanas donde la red eléctrica está disponible

Solar 2010 - ASES National Solar Conference
May 17 - 22, 2010 - Phoenix, AZ

America’s leading conference on the emerging trends, technology, and opportunities shaping the new energy economy.

6th Annual Small Wind Conference
June 15 - 16, 2010 - Stevens Point, WI

The premier event for small wind-electric system designers and installers, and for those involved in sales, specification, management, funding, and permitting of small wind systems.

Your Generosity Ensures our Success!
SEI welcomes new members! As a membership-based non-profit, SEI's members are the heart of our organization and allow us to continue our educational programs. SEI staff are passionate about the work we do and membership dues help sustain our renewable energy endeavors.

Please join us! Membership benefits include (depending on membership level) discounts on workshops and a one year subscription to either Home Power or E magazine.

Click here for details on how to become an SEI member.

To all SEI members...SEI sends thanks!
In This Issue

Upcoming SEI Workshops

Denver Mayor Hickenlooper Visits SEI

Is the US Losing the Clean Energy Race?

Straw Bale Building Making a Comeback

Solar Electric Light Fund Wins Ashoka Award

SEI Alumni News from the Developing World

Upcoming Events

Your Generosity Ensures our Success!

Featured Workshop
Solar Hot Water
June 14- 18, Fontana (SunEarth Inc.), CA

Join SEI for their new and improved Solar Hot Water workshop, including hands-on labs for five different system types. Taught by expert instructors Chuck Marken, Home Power and Solar Pro Thermal Editor, and Tim Dawson.

Hands-On Workshops

View all hands-on workshops >

Solar Electric Fundamentals & Grid Direct Design
April 26 - May 1, Tucson, AZ
May 3 - 7, Princeton, NJ
May 17 - 21, Boulder, CO

Grid Direct Solar Electric Lab Week
May 3 - 7, Paonia, CO
May 10 - 14, Paonia, CO

Solar Hot Water
May 17 - 21, Carbondale, CO
June 14 - 18, Fontana, CA

Online Courses

View all Online Courses >

Please register early. These courses will fill.

Solar Electric Fundamentals and Grid-Direct Design
May 17 - June 20, Online

Grid Direct PV Systems and Code Criteria
May 10 - June 20, Online

International Workshops

Sign up early to reserve your seat.

Renewable Energy for the Developing World - Hands-on
May 15 - 24, COSTA RICA

Ecology, Permaculture, & Natural Building
June 7 - 15, ECUADOR

Browse Workshops
International - Rural Development

Micro-Hydro Power

Renewable Energy for Educators

Solar Electricity (Photovoltaics)

Solar Thermal

Sustainable Building

Sustainable Transportation

Wind Power

Women's Workshops

SEI welcomes new business members:

HP&P Safety, Inc. · Aurora, CO

Mississippi Solar · Philadelphia, MS

Solar Energy International has a strong community presence on social networks. Please consider joining these SEI groups:


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