April 22, 2009
Written by: Jessica Behnham
When civil and environmental engineer Mathias Craig arrived in Nicaragua in 2004, he found a stretch of Caribbean coastline where transportation consisted of horses and boats and there wasn’t a single light bulb. “It was like the Wild West 200 years ago,” he says. As founders of the nonprofit Blue Energy Group, Craig and his brother organized volunteers to build wind turbines to catch the Caribbean trade winds and supply several com-munities with electricity. Hugh Piggott, a Scotland-based wind-energy pioneer, has worked on similar projects in Zimbabwe, Peru and Sri Lanka. “One of the places wind energy is expanding most rapidly is the developing world,” he says. “The number of people in the world who don’t have utility power is actually increasing.” That’s because the population in many regions is growing faster than grid lines and new power plants can be constructed. Craig and his staff of 32 have already installed nine turbines in Nicaragua. They’ve also scouted sites in West Africa, and they’re in talks to expand into Honduras and Guatemala.