Clean Energy Project with Eco-Agricultural Conservation Organization in Mexico

Position Overview

Applications are currently being reviewed in the order they are received. Program will close when full, OR at 11:59pm on Sunday April 29th, 2018, whichever comes first.

Eligibility Criteria

Open to engineering UBC students with an interest in energy conservation.

Partner Organization

Tsomanotik‘s []  Tsomanotik is an eco-agricultural organization working in Chiapas and is committed to promoting sustainability and solidarity in community settings. Communities in rural parts of Chiapas state are facing rising energy costs for fuel and electricity which have increased as much as 38% over the past two years. Tsomanotik, along with key organizational partners, are seeking to explore the possibility of developing alternative energy sources from renewable resources. Interns will contribute to a feasibility study and creation of a white paper on this issue by considering the development and implementation of alternative energy sources. Focus areas would include technical and community-based factors such as design processes, technical factors, and potential community-based outcomes of pursuing such technology.

Project Description

The closest electrical line runs almost 500m away from Tsomanotik’s land and requires a set of makeshift posts and wiring to be transmitted in. The absence of a transformer that can keep the voltage high on the transmission process and then lowered to usable levels (120V) means that almost 10% of the energy is lost over the last 500m. With over four water pumps and more than 13 people living in the premises plus visitors, this power demand has increased to the point where it (usage + loss) becomes a significant figure in the organization’s budget.

Yet, the most important -philosophical- reason to look into alternative sources of energy has been with Tsomanotik since the beginning: to develop and share ideas and experiences that can increase the sustainability of communities and better their relationship with their environment. The process of shifting towards a different, independent and clean source of energy for our center will yield significant knowledge and insights on the way and eventually result in a model that can be carried into different communities, households and livelihoods.

This project is aimed primarily at analyzing the areas of opportunity provided by the environment, habits and current facilities to transition into a different, cleaner and more reliable energy supply. Research must be carried out not only in terms adding new generation infrastructure but should consider also other sources of energy already existing inside the center’s loop. In addition, the project seeks to develop a set of rules and organizational culture that will shift the conception of energy from a “utility” to a an item that is hard to harvest and should be used purposefully and responsibly.

The main goal of this research then is to gather information to decide if and how a transition into a better supply system can be carried out. If the transition is deemed feasible, the information gathered and the main plan will be submitted to the Mexican Government in order to apply for funding under the “Clean Energy Support Initiative for Rural Producers”. This grant is aimed to cut down on the costs of food production and pollution in rural areas through the implementation of clean energy initiatives in farms, rural factories and food producing collectives. The information will be laid out according to the project framework requested by the Mexican government to those NGO’s and agro-ecological organizations who apply to a grant that covers 75% of the investment in clean energy.


You will live on site at Tsomanotik in hostel-style accommodations.

Program Dates

Date Activity
April 29th, 2018 Applications accepted until full OR until 11:59pm on Sunday April 29th, whichever comes first.
May – June Orientation and pre-departure learning activities
July – August 8 weeks of fieldwork in an International Service Learning placement
Mid-September – Early October Re-entry debrief and Public Engagement Event
**Please note these dates may be adjusted, but will be confirmed prior to offer.

Program Costs

The costs below are per student. Exact program costs are not confirmed at this time but will be within the following ranges.



Program Fee

$4,600 – $4,800