HSU Grad Student Builds on SERC’s Work in El Salvador

HSU engineering graduate student Nicholas Riedel is spending the summer in El Salvador, studying how energy is used on a university campus. Nicholas is conducting a broad-scale campus energy audit at Universidad Don Bosco and intends to compare and contrast energy efficiency opportunities in this tropical setting in a developing country with lessons previously learned about energy management at HSU. Mentoring for Nicholas’s efforts comes from SERC senior research engineer Richard Engel, who served as a Fulbright scholar at UDB in 2010. Nicholas’s visit to UDB is the first inter-campus exchange under an HSU-UDB cooperation agreement that grew out of Richard’s stay at UDB.

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Renewable Energy in Central America: ¡Mucho Sol!

Richard at Universidad Don Bosco

Richard Engel shows his class how to measure angles for designing solar energy systems. Gina Navas, the woman holding the device, is a technical advisor to the president of El Salvador. (Photo courtesy Universidad Don Bosco.)

SERC’s Richard Engel recently spent half a year away from the lab, on a Fulbright-sponsored assignment in El Salvador. He assisted Universidad Don Bosco in renewable energy program development, designing and teaching a Spanish-language course, developing preliminary designs for two on-campus renewable energy projects, and helping UDB to create its own energy research facility.

Surprisingly, tiny El Salvador, just twice the size of Humboldt County but crowded with some six million inhabitants, is one of the world’s leading renewable energy users. Over 60% of its electricity comes from renewable sources, mainly hydropower, geothermal energy, and biomass used in sugar processing plants. The solar energy resource is also abundant, but has been little exploited to date for economic reasons.

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