Issue 92 - January 2011
Water filters with blueEnergy
In This Issue
Gabrielle Giffords - Solar Champion
Upcoming SEI Workshops
Tribute to a Solar Pioneer
SEI Solar Training at COSEIA
Clean Cookstoves to Save Lives
COP 16
European Supergrid
Solar Cookers for Afghanistan
Featured Alum - Rollie Belles

Featured Workshop

Upcoming Webinar

Solar Business Interview and Q&A with Blake Jones of Namaste Solar
 Jan. 31 -- 3 pm PST

Upcoming Hands-on Workshops

Solar Electric Design & Installation (Grid-Direct)
Feb. 21 - 26 -- Tucson, AZ
Mar. 14-18 -- Fayetteville, AR
March 21 - 26 -- Tucson, AZ
March 28 - Apr. 2 -- Guemes Island, WA

Grid Direct Design & the NEC
March 14 - 18 -- Rocklin, CA

Upcoming International workshops
Upcoming Online Courses

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Gabrielle Giffords U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords - Solar Champion
SEI is incredibly saddened by the atrocious shooting in Arizona that killed six people and wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 13 others. Gabrielle Giffords is a leading champion for solar energy - sponsoring the Solar Technology Roadmap Act, introducing the Solar Schools Act, and helping to secure funding for the construction of Arizona's largest solar plant. SEI had the honor of supporting Congresswoman Giffords' community education efforts by presenting in her solar education series last February. SEI keeps Gabrielle Giffords and all families affected in our thoughts.

Upcoming SEI Workshops
For those of you looking for PV training, SEI has some great opportunities coming up around the country. 
If you'd like to be a bit more adventurous and learn about renewables in other parts of the world, check out these amazing opportunities:

Tribute to a Solar Pioneer - Paul Wilkins
Paul Wilkins

SEI is sad to announce the passing of friend and solar pioneer Paul Wilkins on Dec. 9, 2010.  Paul died in NM after struggling with lung failure for 10 years.  He is survived by his partner of 33 years Francine Foster.


Paul was indeed one of the first solar pioneers of off-grid PV-powered living.  His good friend of many years and co-solar conspirator, Windy Dankoff, remembers Paul's heroic struggle to obtain one of the first mass-produced PV modules from ARCO Solar.  In the early '80's, under the name "Solar Works", Paul manufactured Windy's solar charge control called the Charge-A-Stat.  Paul also carried on PV home pioneer Joel Davidson's PV Network News.  Paul was a consummate collage artist with a unique vision. 

This photo of Paul in his much loved VW bus (The Blimp) was taken at an SEI PV workshop in CO in 1991.


SEI Solar Training at COSEIA Annual Conference
On Feb. 11, SEI PV instructor Kris Sutton will lead a one-day Photovoltaic System Installation Workshop Intensive as part of CoSEIA's Annual Solar Conference, Colorado Solar Power.

This session will focus on National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements, best practices, and safe working procedures for installing and troubleshooting PV systems. Grid interface considerations, disconnects, system labeling requirements, and series fusing will be covered. Students will analyze and troubleshoot ground-fault and commissioning scenarios. Class lectures are combined with individual problem solving exercises covering a wide range of installation considerations. We will also spend about 60 minutes on NABCEP Installer Exam requirements, Job Task Analysis, and tips for preparation. Interested? Register here.

 Clean Cookstoves to Save Lives
Rocket Stove
Sebastian Africano of TWP (left) instructing on Rocket Stoves at SEI
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves this past September with a commitment to saving lives, improving livelihoods, empowering women, and combating climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean cookstoves.  Since the launch, the Alliance has been working on activities that will help them achieve the goal of having 100 million homes adopt clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020.


Stuart Conway, International Director of Trees, Water, & People (TWP) and Sebastian Africano, TWP's Deputy International Director, will serve on the Global Alliance. TWP staff will teach how to build fuel efficient stoves in SEI's Renewable Energy for the Developing World workshop this June.


COP 16: Environmental Integrity at Risk?
COP 16 Last year all eyes were on Copenhagen and the critical but troubled negotiations conducted by the United Nations (UN) and the Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 15). The recent December 2010 COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico helped to re-legitimize the democratic process of the UN as the continued forum for climate discussions.

Important advancements were made such the development of key mechanisms to support the Global South's just transition to climate resilience and a UN "Technology Mechanism" that will scale up access to and financing for climate-friendly technologies. But according to SEI associate Victor Menotti, Director of the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) these efforts may be undermined by the adoption of the US's proposed "new paradigm" for global climate governance. The IFG feels that US climate policies may unfortunately put fundamental environmental integrity and equity principles, as well as the potential for a global deal, at risk. For more information from the IFG and associates please visit


European Supergrid Slowly Coming into Focus
European Supergrid In early December 2010, as Europe was grappling with sovereign debt crises and angry protests swept through its cities, a group of Ministers and grid operators met quietly to sign a deal that could help to secure the development of hundreds of gigawatts of renewable energy capacity.

Solar Cookers for Afghanistan 
Solar ovens in Afghanistan

Jack Howell, long-time friend and associate of SEI, and founder of Morning Sun Press, is now heading up the solar cooking project for Trust in Education, a non-profit organization which provides education, health care and economic assistance to villages in Afghanistan.  Jack is currently building 100 ovens which will be shipped in the next two months to displaced people living in camps in Afghanistan.

Read more about this project at Trust in Education's website. To support this project (each cookers costs only $40) click on contributions and send an email to to indicate your donation is for the solar ovens project in Afghanistan. 


  Featured Alum - Rollie Belles
Rollie in HaitiAfter Rollie Belles took an SEI workshop in Costa Rica he started working in the solar industry, and currently works for Sustainable Energy Systems in Frederick, MD.  He has installed close to 50 systems on the east coast ranging from small PV systems to a 102 panel solar thermal system. 

He also went to Haiti last year after the earthquake and installed 18 PV modules on a school.  He recently wrote to let us know that the Costa Rica workshop he took with SEI was one of the best travel experiences of his life.  Rollie also says that the SEI workshop "is what got me started in the solar world and I really enjoy the way my career has turned out."

We're happy for the way your career has turned out as well, Rollie.  Keep up the good work!

Correction - Last month we mistakenly posted Doug Hollinger's website.  Doug founded Global Solar Access and the website is

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