Solar Power Workshop: Another First for Puerto Jimenez

1016948_10151927951702064_795868185_n Solar Power Workshop:  Another First for Puerto Jimenez

Janina Schan

Janina is the Director of Green Life Volunteers and Dog and Cat Rescue.  Write her directly at



“The Solar Power Project – A Hands On Workshop” is a new project sponsored by Green Life Volunteers, a non-profit organization active for four years on the Osa Peninsula.  Green Life Volunteers (GLV – receives volunteers for various projects around the Osa Peninsula and other parts of Costa Rica. We offer volunteers an opportunity to get involved with actual exciting projects in need of help, from organic farming to wildlife sanctuaries, from a a biological research center to a reptile park.  We have teaching volunteers for local bilingual and rural schools  and environmental education, dog and cat rescue, internships at the local veterinary clinic, and most recent participants for the Solar Power Project.

One of the main goals of the “Solar Power Project – A Hands on Workshop” by GLV is to provide renewable energy to communities that are located off-grid around the Osa Peninsula, and to educate the members of the communities about solar power.  For more information:

The project is funded through our foreign participants and sponsorships. GLV was able to donate a solar system to the La Balsa elementary school this year, located about 40 minutes outside of Puerto Jimenez with a current enrollment of six students. . There was no electricity whatsoever before our installation, and the school is located located far from the power grid, making future grid connection unlikely. Our ambition is to donate solar systems to other schools that are located off-grid during  the next year’s 2017 workshop; there remain plenty of remote and rural schools still without power on the Osa!

foto2GLV invites foreign participants (meaning volunteers and participants mainly from the United States and Canada) to join the Solar Power Project. The package includes accommodation with a host family, meals, an intense theory and practical workshop in English, and of course some fun activities around the Osa. The participants gain an understanding of the basic engineering principles of photovoltaic power and solar panels, and learn about solar energy in Costa Rica.

With the workshop we also educate the local community about solar power, and solar system maintenance and problem solving. Our local and foreign solar experts include Brad Mobley as our local theory instructor and system installer, and Keith Bonarrigo as our foreign hands-on workshop instructor. Keith is conducting similar workshops already in Baja California, Mexico, and with his help we invited and taught members of the local community in Spanish about solar energy and solar system maintenance, and together with our foreign participants he taught them how to make solar panels themselves from scratch. This also helps them to understand how solar power is generated, and how simple a solar panel really is. We received amazing feedback for this from the communities and overwhelming attendance throughout the workshop in June 2016.

An important aspect of the project is that we involve the local community in the workshop and provide knowledge and expertise to locals on solar power systems. The locals are the ones managing and running the systems later on, or have their own systems already (or work with solar systems), so they’ll have to know how they work

We are also including educational events for kids and adults throughout the workshop – this year we visited the local high schools in Puerto Jimenez for a day, and showed them how to make panels from scratch and teach them about solar energy.


We were also lucky to receive support by local guest-lecturers this year, including Paul Collar Sol de Osa, to give us an introduction to Solar and Hydro in Costa Rica.

We are hoping to run these workshops once or twice each year, with the next workshop dates coming up in the end of March 2017, and another in the end of June 2017. We will announce the dates once they’re set, and hope for attendance of locals again.

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