Saturday, June 30, 2012

Low-energy light bulbs: are they bad for the environment?

Low energy
Being low-energy certainly doesn't suit every occasion. Image:

Every now and then you hear people talking and promoting the use of low-energy light bulbs. It's for the environment and your pocket, so they say. So, are they actually good or bad for the environment, and you?

Low energy bulbs

The good news is that low-energy bulbs help to reduce carbon emissions. The downside is that they contain mercury. Although it is only present in small amounts, about one-thousandths of a gram, but it can be environmentally damaging if the bulbs are carelessly disposed of.

Careless means throwing or burying them in landfill. Mercury is a scheduled waste and needs to be treated prior to disposal. It's also harmful to breathe mercury in, so if you accidentally smash a bulb, vacate the room and stay out for at least fifteen minutes.

Reference: sciencefocus

How do electric eels generate voltage?

The electric eels - a type of knifefish - are capable of generating powerful electric shocks of up to around 600 volts. They use it for both hunting and self-defense.

Elect eel
Image: Wikipedia

The source of their power is a battery-like array of cells known as electrocytes, which make up around 80% of the eel's metre-long body. These disc-shaped electricity producing cells each acquire a small potential difference of around 1/10th of a volt by controlling the flow of sodium and potassium ions across the cell membranes.

Electric eel

When linked together in arrays of thousands of individual cells, the result is a kind of natural car battery, which releases its charge when the eel spots predators or prey. Up to 500 Watt (think about the portable gasoline generator you have at home) of electric power is released per shock. That sort of power is enough to inflict significant injury on a human.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Road journey to Ranau

Ranau is a place in the interior part of Sabah, a district that is rich in tradition, and is blessed with beautiful landscapes. Don't forget - the people are friendly, too.

It is noted for its hilly geographical structure and is home to the majestic Mount Kinabalu, one of the highest peaks in South East Asia. Located 1,176m above sea level the distric - in particular Kundasang area - is the largest producer of highland vegetables in the state of Sabah.

Tourism is one of the major industries here, evidenced by the large number of highland resorts, hotels and agri-tourism activities along the road leading to Ranau town.

Poring Hot Spring: this swimming pool is open to the general public for a fee

Welcome to Ranau! Wait, the fun starts way before you actually reach Ranau from Tamparuli. In particular, you'd be tempted to make a stop in Pekan Nabalu and enjoy the full view of Mt. Kinabalu. Ideally, you'd end your day with a soothing hot dip in one of the cubicles at Poring Hot Spring.

More pictures

View the pictorial journey along Ranau road towards Mount Kinabalu and beyond.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Green car: Mitsubishi to launch i-MiEV in Malaysia this year

Aimed at environmentally-aware people and companies, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) plans to launch its first fully electric car in Malaysia, the i-Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle (i-MiEV), by the end of this year. The company is now in the final stages of market research to determine the vehicle pricing for Malaysia.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV
i-MiEV used in a pilot trial in Langkawi earlier this year. Image:

Unlike hybrid vehicle such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, the i-MiEV is a fully electric car. Mitsubishi Motor Malaysia is targeting sales of 50 units in the early stages.

Since its debut in Japan, the i-MiEV has attracted a lot of attention worldwide, following its introduction in European markets at the end of 2010 and launch in North America at the end of last year.

Brief specifications of the i-MiEV

Model: Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Power: 49 kW (66 BHP)
Torque: 180 Nm, instant.
Top speed: 130 km/h
Travelled distance: 160 km per full charge
Charging time: 8 hours to fully charge
Charger: 230V, regular home socket

Guide price:
Japan pricing for the G and M model - 2.84mil yen and 1.88mil yen (RM108,381 and RM71,745) respectively. Prices after the government subsidy. So, we have some idea of what kind of price range we are expecting for the Malaysia market.

Subsidy for electric vehicles in Japan

In Japan, the government subsidises 50% (and up to 1 million yen) of the price difference between the electric vehicle and a similar class petrol model.

Petrol car price: RM80,000
i-MiEV price: RM92,000
Price difference = RM12,000 and 50% subsidy is RM6,000
Thus, subsidised price = RM92,000 - RM6,000
= RM86,000

Of course, this scenario is only in Japan. Similar or better subsidy plan in Malaysia is welcomed!

Malaysians should be given the opportunity to purchase their own electric vehicle and make the choice for a greener future. Special tax incentive that is more favorable to the general masses should be formulated to encourage the use of such vehicles. As far as we know, presently tax incentives are available only for hybrid vehicles.

Go green!

Data in this article were sourced from Bernama.

Hydro-electric power continues steady growth

From a humble beginning, today hydropower is generated in over 160 countries, including Malaysia.

Study conducted by Earth Policy Institute, EPI, shows that global hydroelectric power generation has risen steadily by 3% annually since 1965. In 2011, hydroelectricity accounted for about 16% of global electricity generation, almost all produced by large dams around the world.

           3,500 billion KWH of hydroelectricity generated in 2011

China, Brazil, Canada, and the United States dominate the hydropower landscape. Together they produce more than 50% of the world’s hydroelectricity, with China being the biggest producer of hydroelectricity.

Hydropower generation by country

Major countries in hydropower

For the biggest hydroelectric producer, China, the growth has tripled from 220 billion KWH in 2000 to 720 billion KWH in 2010. In 2011, despite a drop in generation due to drought, hydropower accounted for 15% of China’s total electricity generation.

Hydroelectric generation china
     China generated 694 billion KWH of hydroelectric power in 2011

Brazil, the second-largest producer of hydropower worldwide, gets 86% of its electricity from water resources. It is home to an estimated 450 dams, including the Itaipu Dam, which generates more electricity than any other hydropower facility in the world—over 92 billion KWH per year.

Third-largest producer is Canada. About 62% of its electricity is generated from the 475 hydroelectric plants. The country’s enormous hydropower capacity allows for electricity export; Canada sells some 50 billion KWH to the United States every year. This is enough to power more than 4 million American homes.

Fourth-largest is the United States. Most large dams in the US were built before 1980, thus, the country’s hydropower capacity has remained relatively stable in recent decades. The country’s highest capacity dam—the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington State—was completed in 1942. Today, more than 7% of all U.S. electricity is supplied by hydropower.

Hydropower in the European Union is relatively mature, with capacity increasing by less than 1% annually over the last 30 years. In 2011, hydropower supplied 9.5% of E.U. electricity generation.

Share of electricity from hydropower

Among the world’s largest producers, Norway gets the greatest share of its electricity from hydropower: a full 95%. Other countries that get the bulk of their electricity from river power include Paraguay (100%), Ethiopia (88%), and Venezuela (68%). A number of African and small Asian countries also generate virtually all of their electricity with hydropower, including Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nepal, and Zambia.


Conventional hydropower continues to grow with dams completions in China, Brazil, Ethiopia, Malaysia Bakun), and Turkey.

Other non-conventional hydropower

There is enormous potential for non-conventional hydroelectricity generation from tidal and wave projects, as well as from small in-stream projects that will not require new dams.

Thus far, few of these hydrokinetic projects have been realized:

  1. France’s La Rance Tidal Barrage - 240MW maximum capacity (first tidal wave power plant, 1966)
  2. South Korea - 254MW completed in August 2011 (world's largest tidal operation). Able to provide electricity for 500,000 people.
  3. New Zealand also recently approved a coastal hydropower project.

Estimates from the World Energy Council indicate that worldwide, wave energy has the potential to grow to a massive 10,000 GW, more than double the world’s electricity-generating capacity from all sources today.

Adopted from data highlight by Earth Policy Institute.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

SESB: Facebook account not our baby

How would you feel when one day you see yourself appearing on the net divulging and transacting  information both familiar and unfamiliar, or damaging to you? You would feel uncomfortable, insecure, or at the least feel 'curtailed' though nothing bad has happened yet. You would want to go all out to try and nab that culprit and clear your name. Or, pay your way to freedom.

Last year Apple Inc bought domain from Sweden-based company, Xcerion for a rumoured fee in excess of $4 million (although Apple never disclosed the actual amount). That's because icloud was seen as valuable addition to the company's business progression. Apple Inc bought its way to freedom.

Recently some name-mongers tried registering SESB as their pseudo-names on social networking site, Facebook. It was not immediately known if they intend to cash in on the company's name or they are trying to do funny things to erode the company's corporate image. Whatever their reason maybe, SESB is not amused. [read SESB's MD's statement at the end of this article]

Tried googling for fun and I found the followings:

Search result for 'SESB'

Search result for 'SESB facebook'

One of the facebook pages supposedly belong to SESB. This is fake according to SESB MD.

SESB says not our baby (Bernama Report)

KOTA KINABALU, June 23 -- The Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has clarified that several Facebook accounts under the name SESB is not the official Facebook page of the company.

The existence of these accounts has caused confusion among SESB customers thinking that they are managed by the company. These Facebook accounts have been found to be not updated, while providing responses that are incorrect towards comments that are posted up by customers.

According to SESB’s Managing Director Ir Abd Razak Sallim, all statements put up on these accounts were not the official statement and news by the company.

As such, customers are advised not to disclose vital information to the Facebook account owners. Official statements and updated information by the company are uploaded onto the official SESB website, he said

Razak said the company's official statements and updated information had been uploaded onto its official website ( while those facing power supply problems could contact the company at 15454 or 088 515000.

Complain to SESB boss directly

I wrote an article previously pertaining to SESB's new website and that you can actually submit your complaints and grouses directly to SESB boss himself.

Rather than wasting your time commenting on such fake facebook account, why not email the boss himself, agree?

You maybe skeptical about a boss even looking at the tiny little email you send to SESB. I had a chat with one of SESB's staff in Tuaran the other day but I am keeping to myself what I gathered regarding such move by the organisation's head. You have a doubt, the best way is to try sending an email. Of course send one with genuine complaint in it.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Personal data theft: Magnetic hotel room cards

When you travel, often or occassionlly, chances are you'll be staying in a hotel and you'll be familiar with the magnetic hotel room cards. They're about the size of your credit card.

Room access card.

I received this piece of information recently from friends circulating it through email. I found it quite credible, especially the suggestion to use magnet to erase the information in the card. I recall that vendors usually use magnet to RESET (read: erase) data in the magnetic flowmeters used to measure volume of treated water produced by the state water department.

As long as it is 'magnetic', you can use magnet to erase stored data in the card. The stronger the magnet, the better. But magnets used by kids to experiment at school will do just fine.

That said, if you ask me if I believe everything in this article, I'd say I'll take it with a pinch of salt. While it is true that each of these can possibly happen as mentioned, truth is that most hotels will swipe/erase the card key in your presence during check out.

With this in mind, I leave you with what I found in my inbox (no editing done):

Always take a small fridge magnet on your holiday, they come in handy at the end of it. Never even thought about key cards containing anything other than an access code for the room?

Ever wonder what is on your magnetic Hotel room key card?
a. Customer's name
b. Customer's partial home address
c. Hotel room number
d. Check-in date and out dates
e. Customer's credit card number and expiration date!

When you hand them back to the front desk your personal information is there for any employee to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner. An employee can take a hand full of cards home and using a scanning device, access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your expense.

Simply put, hotels don't erase the information on these cards until an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest. At that time, the new guest's information is electronically 'overwritten' on the card and the previous guest's information is thus erased. But until the card is rewritten for the next guest, it usually is kept in a drawer at the front desk with YOUR INFORMATION ON IT!

The bottom line: Keep the cards, take them home with you, or destroy them. NEVER leave them behind in the room or room wastebasket, and NEVER turn them into the front desk when you check out of a room.

For the same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover you still have the card key in your pocket, do not toss it in an airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip!


If you have a small magnet, pass it across the magnetic strip several times. Then try it in the door, it will not work. It erases everything on the card.

At what speed do hybrid cars switch from battery power to petrol power?

This weekend site theme is energy efficient vehicles and its related technology. An article from Science Focus is reproduced here to answer one of the questions about hybrid cars.

So, at what speed do hybrid cars switch from battery power to petrol power?

In a hybrid car, electric motors are used most when they're travelling at slower speeds around town. Petrol is more efficient at high speed, so the conventional engine is in charge on the motorway.

For much of the time, however, the engine and electric motors run together with the car's power control unit, varying the relative amount of drive from each. So there's no set point where electric power switches off and petrol kicks in.

Hybrid car - Toyota Aqua is known as Prius C in Malaysia. Image:

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Germany might miss electric car target

About 20% of Germany’s electricity now comes from renewable sources, and the feed-in tariff for renewables has been very successful in getting the public to participate in generating electricity from solar.

However, it has been widely reported that the government intends to curtail financial support for renewables, particular for solar energy, and industry analysts doubt the renewable energy industry could survive without it.

It seems that Germany is not only having issue with sustaining and growing further its renewable energy industry but it is now faced with another obstacle in one of its GHG emissions reduction related initiatives. Official said that, unless more incentives are given, Germany will miss its target of 1 million electric cars on its roads by 2020.

As reported by AFP on Wednesday, June 20

German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer gets out of an E-drive BMW electric car.

Germany will miss its target of one million electric cars on its roads by 2020 without more incentives, the country's coordinator on electric transport policy warned on Wednesday.

"I've already said that without additional incentives we will reach more of a figure of half a million," Henning Kagermann, who oversees Germany's electric mobility strategy, told reporters.

Germany set a target in 2008 of having one million electric cars on its roads in 2020 and said it wanted to be a pilot market in the field. Under the plan, it has given itself until 2014 to prepare the market, with mass production of electric cars due to kick in from 2017.

But Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer called at the same press conference for "optimistic realism" and spoke of "making Germany the number one (market) for the electric car" rather than re-stating the one-million target.

The head of the powerful Federation of German Industry (VDA), Matthias Wissmann, has said that by 2014, German manufacturers will be able to offer 15 different models of electric vehicles.

But he insisted on the need to improve the vehicles' batteries to provide electric cars with more autonomy outside heavily built-up areas.

The government offers tax incentives to electric car drivers but campaigners say much more must be done to encourage people to switch from petrol or diesel to electric vehicles.

Source: Germany might miss electric car target, officials says

China considering subsidies to develop energy-saving vehicles

There are many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and one of them is through large scale use of energy-efficient vehicles. The impact of the intended reduction is made more significant if it is done in countries with the most number of vehicles. China is one of them and it is currently eying subsidy provision to develop energy-saving vehicles, together with the necessary infrastructures.

New stylish car charging station by GE Energy. Image:

China's subsidy plan

Reuters cited a report by Shanghai Securities News last week that China is considering tax exemptions and subsidies for buyers of energy-saving vehicles in an attempt to boost its low-emissions auto sector. 

In 2009, Beijing introduced a similar stimulus package with tax incentives for cars with engine sizes of 1.6 liters or smaller and subsidies for rural residents. That move spurred car sales and helped China surpass the United States as the world's largest auto market.

Under the new proposal, those purchasing electric vehicles or hybrid cars would be exempt from a vehicle purchase tax, the paper said, citing Zhang Xiangmu, secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The paper separately quoted a car association official saying that electric car buyers would also get a sales rebate as well as a reduction in the value-added tax. While plans to construct charging facilities for electric vehicles would support the country's demand for a raft of base metals, including copper.

The government said in May that it plans to spend up to 2 billion yuan ($315.06 million) from this year to help develop energy-saving vehicles to cut carbon emissions.


Malaysian car buyers incentive?

Not really a subsidy, but Malaysia government encourage the purchase of energy-saving cars - in particular hybrid vehicles - by exempting import duty and and excise tax for such vehicles. Unless there changes in the policy, this will be enforced until the end of 2013.

The Honda Insight has been upgraded for 2012. Image:

As a result of the tax exemption, a 1.3 litre Honda Insight is marketed in Malaysia at RM99,800 and recently some adverts put a RM97,000 price tag (on the road). Toyota Prius has also seen the launch of a new 1.5 litre Prius C or known as Aqua in Japan, for the same price tag of RM97,000. From the consumers' perspective this is good as it gives options and promote improvement via competition.

Apart from that, there have not been many incentives for electric vehicles in Malaysia. National car manufacturer, Proton, has been talking about designing and producing electric cars for sometime now but the end result is yet to be seen.

Weird: Squid injects woman's tongue with sperm bag


In a bizarre incident, sperm was an unexpected side dish for a 63-year-old woman in Korea. She was eating partially cooked squid when a sperm bag was injected into her mouth, leaving her tongue essentially inseminated with squid spermatophores.

By all accounts, she is not pregnant with baby squid. She did have to make a visit to the hospital though, to check a "foreign-body sensation" and pain in her mouth after spitting out the nasty sperm bag. But I don't suppose the sensation is anything near to the prickind caused by aliens emerging from human host. (Of course that happens only in Hollywood movies). What happen to the Korean woman is true.

Nothing's wrong with the squid here. Image credit: wikimedia

Sensational story goes viral

The Huffington Post reported that a woman in Seoul, Korea was eating semi-boiled squid when the cephalopod injected its sperm bag into her tongue, according to research published in February.

The unidentified woman reportedly experienced a "pricking and foreign-body sensation" while she chewed and spat the squid out. She had to go to the hospital when she felt severe pain and several "small, squirming" creepy crawlies in her mouth.

Doctors found that the squid had left "twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms" in the mucous membranes of her tongue and cheek. Indeed, the woman's mouth had been essentially inseminated.

Researchers think that the squid's sperm bags came out while the woman chewed her food. Squids have "sperm bags," which are ejaculatory apparatuses that attach themselves to a female's body before slowly secreting sperm, according to Fairfax New Zealand News.

It's not the first time a squid has tried to fertilize a human mouth. There have been several incidents in Japan where people have complained of oral stings by their food, the news site reported.

When consuming raw squid, diners should remove their internal organs, or boil the tasty treat long enough to kill its sperm bags, researchers warned.

The research was published by the American Society of Parasitologists in the Journal of Parasitology.

TheGreenMechanics: That's the reason I don't take raw foods. Not even 'medium'.

The Huffington Post -
American Society of Parasitologists in the Journal of Parasitology -

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bugs' day

Reading back an earlier article: Bird that flies like bug, I realised I had some shots of my own I should have used to illustrate their 50-50 use of upstroke and downstroke to get them lifted.

So, here they are. Shot with 70-200mm, f2.8 nikkor lens on separate outings:

hardworking insects eying for the same pollen grains

large bug, buhod
buhod is the local ethnic Dusun name for this large social insect. It is the smaller cousin of the black buhod a.k.a bonging (pictures above); usually found feeding and pollinating early in the morning.

sole flying visitor
Lily commonly found growing in unkempt drains.

Fancy a long Earth Hour this weekend?

There are few essential utility supplies you cannot afford to go without, such as:

1) water
2) gas
3) electricity

Or, should I rephrase the above and strike out electricity from the list, owing to the fact that electricity is not essential and its absence can be tolerated? Well, at least in this IT age, you shouldn't allow yourself to be deprived of these basic 'needs'. Needs because these are not merely 'wants' anymore.

SESB announcement posted on its website.

16 hours of blackout?

As far as schedule is concerned, many people will be without power supply tomorrow (June 23) beginning 10.00pm until 2.00pm the next day. That would be 16 long hours of blackout. And there goes my EURO football match between France and Spain! Affected areas include most parts of Putatan district, to part of old Papar road, to Kepayan including most parts of Penampang and Luyang, and the busy Karamunsing/Sadong Jaya in Kota Kinabalu.

But why 16 hours, and why the power cut in the middle of the night? Can we not do the maintenance works during daytime when people are not confined at home? This maybe acceptable thirty years ago but not today. Not anymore. You cannot just simply cut the power off and think that it is okay.

This is all about the tidak apa (it's okay) attitude some people are clinging on to. "It is okay to leave half of the city without power supply. It is okay if the services we provide is sub-standard. It's okay, people will soon forget about it." And the list goes on.

Be prepared to spend more and shorten the power interruption

Being the monopoly in the business, SESB should shoulder the social obligation to supply power with minimum interruption. Sixteen continuous hours is just unacceptable.

If the intended tasks permit it, break the job into several shorter hours. If it is not possible to be carried out in stages, then SESB must put a provision to deploy mobile generator sets to the affected areas. Quite surely, substations are equipped with the necessary switchgear to take-in power from sources other than transmission/distribution main.

This exercise is not cheap, and it may not be required or stated in the supply contract but you are morally and ethically obligated to do it.

I will be directly affected by this lengthy power supply shutdown and I am very disappointed by the way the utility company schedule its maintenance works.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Bird that flies like bug

A little bit of science today but hopefully one that's interesting.

Ever wonder how hummingbirds float on air hovering around flowers in search of nectar, much like insects and bugs do? That's because they pretty much fly the same way. Well, almost.

Hovering gently over a flower. Image credit: Janine Russell

An insect (bee) approaching a flower petal. Image credit: Fotoopa

Hummingbirds pull off their aerial antics by flying more like insects than their fellow birds. Most birds only produce lift in the downward flap, i.e. their wings are drawn towards their body on the upstroke. But the hummingbird, by flipping its wing before it flaps upwards, can create lift in both directions. Insects do the same thing but doing so at different percentage of downstroke/upstroke lifting ratio.

The lift on hummingbirds is obtained from 75% downstroke and 25% upstroke. For all other birds, the lift is 100% downstroke. In comparison, bugs get theirs from 50%-50% up and downstroke.

How do hummingbirds flip their wings since they have bones, unlike insects? Biologists say they twist their wrists before each upstroke.

Ouch! I can't take twisting my wrist 140 degree before every movement. Madness, that would be awfully painful.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Japan solar creating $9.6 billion market?

With a 'very attractive' solar power tariff, Japan is poised to quickly overtake Germany and Italy to become the world's second-biggest market for solar power as incentives starting July 1 drive sales for equipment makers from Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co. to Kyocera Corp.

Solar electricity rate is about three times the rate of conventional power. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast, that may spur at least $9.6 billion in new installations with 3.2 GW of capacity.


While solar industry is suffering incentive cuts across Europe, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is making effort to cut dependence on atomic energy and as a result solar industry will benefit. Currently nuclear energy provides about 30% of Japan’s power requirement.

The high solar tariff rate is not without opposition though. Business lobbyists questioned the effectiveness of such a scheme whereby the high cost of electricity is shouldered by users.

Japan Power Tariff

Power utilities will pay ¥42 (US 53 cents) per kWh for 20 years to solar power producers, almost twice the rate in Germany, the world’s biggest market by installations. The ¥42 solar rate, targeted for 10-kW or bigger plants, is above the ¥38 price for 15 years the industry earlier expected.

Malaysia's rate is RM1.75 max. (US 55 cents), subject to usage of local products, installation size, and building-integration of installation. This is still higher than Japan and Germany.

In Germany, after the proposed subsidy cuts, it is planning to offer €0.135 to €0.195 (17 to 24.6 U.S. cents) per kWh, depending on size. Italy’s rate is €0.128 to €0.237. Analyst estimates that residential solar systems are being sold in Japan for $6.28/Watt, more than double the $2.70/Watt price in Germany.

Installed capacity

Last year, Japan ranked 6th worldwide by new installation when it added 1.3GW of solar to bring its installed capacity to 5GW. It is expected  nearly triple that amount, or 3.2GW to 4.7GW. Wist this huge investment, Japan will come second only to China and its solar capacity growth will surpass those of Italy and Germany.

1 GW is sufficient to supply about 243,000 homes in Japan.

In 2011, Japan got about 1.6% of its energy from renewables making it the smallest percentage among G-7 countries after Canada. Japan has got a lot of catching up to do, but with such an attractive solar tariff, it will be able to do that in a short span of time.

Green surcharge to consumers

As what is being practiced in other countries, Japanese consumers will help to fund the program by paying surcharges in their monthly electricity bills. The average surcharges is about ¥87 per household per month, lower than the earlier estimate of ¥100.

In Malaysia, only consumers with monthly energy usage of 350kWh and above are being levied with 1% of the total electricity bills, to fund the Feed-in Tariff program.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

We once had this 'Look East Policy' which refers to learning lesson from the industry standard of Japan. Let's see if we can benchmark our Renewable Energy Policy with what Japan is implementing. Our FIT model was largely drawn in comparison to Germany's subsidy model, and Germany is currently facing difficulty in sustaining such a highly subsidised renewable energy, particularly solar power.

Copyright 2012 Bloomberg - via Renewable Energy World.

Panasonic's first Android-based Toughpad unveiled in Singapore

Panasonic says that the Toughpad A1 is 'military-type' and one can expect premium price for reliability - water-proof, dust-proof and shock-proof. Obviously this Android tablet is targeted at organisations and individuals who require rugged computing devices.

If you want to own the toughest tablet in the market, this is it. Size-wise, it is bigger than both the iPad 3 and the Galaxy 10.1 but while powered by Android, this guy is in a league of its own.

Panasonic Toughpad announced for Asia
The Panasonic Toughpad A1 does look tough! Image: John Chan @CNET Asia

Not much is available from the short news by AFP but from the earlier release in the US, the following is the short description:

Name                          : Toughpad A1
Price                           : TBA (guide price US$1,599)
Screen size                 : 10.1 inch LCD
Operating system      : Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich
Processor                   : 1.2 GHz Marvel processor, 1GB RAM
Storage capacity        : 16GB flash
Mobile connectivity   : WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS (optional: 3G and LTE)
Dimension                  : 266.3 x 212 x 17mm
Weight                       : 970g
Battery life                : 9 hours
Camera                     : unknown
Released                  : June 2012
Availability               : September 2012 (Asia)

Panasonic android-based tablet
The tablet displayed at CommunicAsia telecom expo in Singapore. Image:

Unveiling the Toughpad A1 in Singapore

SINGAPORE: Panasonic's first Android-based computer tablet designed for tough environments such as battlefields was unveiled at a major regional telecom fair here. It was the first time the "Panasonic Toughpad A1" was showcased in Asia, where company officials said there is a huge demand for such a rugged device.

It has already previewed in the United States and production will start later this year, company executives said.

Satoshi Mizobata, a director at Panasonic's Toughbook Asia Pacific Group, said the device is the firm's first rugged tablet computer using the Android operating system. Previous Panasonic "toughpads" use Windows.

"It's military-type," Mizobata told AFP at the Panasonic booth at the CommunicAsia telecom trade expo that opened on Tuesday. "It is waterproof, dustproof and shockproof." The device weighs 0.97kg and its 10.1in LCD display allows the user to read even under the sun while it is tough enough to withstand being dropped from a height of four feet (1.21m). It also has a nine-hour battery life.

Amos Tio, Southeast Asia general manager for Toughbook Asia Pacific Group, said the gadget will launch in the region in September and in the United States in August. The rugged tablets are popular in industries such as defence, utilities and construction, as well as by workers in Asia's vast palm oil plantations, company executives said.

Source: AFP

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

LED streetlights by 2014

If the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment has its way, by 2014 Malaysia will be using Light Emitting Diode (LED) to light up its streets. By doing so, the government is expected to save RM300 million every year on energy expenses for streetlights.

    A typical LED streetlight, powered by solar. The ministry's initiative will be on grid power.

An example of a widely use of LED lamp application bright sighboards and traffic lights. Due to its directional light beam, when angled correctly, LED lamp is very bright and suitable for traffic lightings during daytime.

Initiative by KePKAS

According to Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister (KePKAS), Datuk Bolkiah Hj Ismail, the move to use LED for street-lighting is to achieve a sustainable development through the adoption of green technology. It is the government's desire to look into more development plans that are environmentally friendly.

Through the use of green technology via LED lights, there is an expected saving of up to 75% (I'm quoting Datuk Bolkiah) of energy compared to conventional lights. A pre-qualification registration and consulting service on the use of LED lights to contractors was held on Monday, organised by Realkey Solutions Sdn Bhd.

The Federal Government is expected to roll out the budget on the installation of LED lights nationwide soon. State governments, agencies and departments may also receive a huge allocation to phase out conventional lights.

To help the nation reduce carbon emission, the State Government would take the LED lights installation as one of the steps towards the adoption of green technology. At the federal level, LED lights will be installed at Ministry of Health premises and streets under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department.

Teluk Likas street showered with LED lights? Maybe, soon.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents: Massive funding, don't screw it!

Do up some rough mathematical calculations and using 5 to 6 years of ROI, the total investment in the LED street lighting could cost the government a whopping RM2 billion to RM2.5 billion. But with the large number of lights to be replaced the amount should be much lesser than this. The intention is noble, so, don't screw this by turning the exercise into a national scandal.

LED lighting technology is still evolving and lamp manufacturing code has not been standardised yet, unlike the conventional lights.

What this means is that each manufacturer (e.g. Philips, Osram, GE, Siemens, etc) will have their own standard on fittings, rating, lifespan, build and so on, making compatibility a big issue.

For instance, when you buy a Philips LED bulb c/w fitting, 6 to 7 years down the road you would want to replace a faulty 'bulb'. You can only do so using a Philips 'bulb' and not Osram's or Siemens'. If you insist on other brand, you would then need to replace the whole fitting which is a very expensive affair.

In short, plan properly at the beginning and don't blow the budget halfway.


A little milestone

This is for my own reference sometime in the future. A couple of days ago this humble blog reached a tiny milestone, a 100,000 pagehits although I must admit is nothing compared to the seasoned bloggers like Teh Ramuan, and Dunia Realiti, to name a few.

The Green Mechanics' 100k

A big salute to the senior bloggers as I take inspiration from their non-stop pursue in writing responsibly in the netizen. Let's continue writing in the hope of sharing info with others and at the same time improving ourselves through research/readings in the process.

For the record, this blog is biased towards Green Technology, preserving the nature, preserving our cultural heritage and a bit of here and there to keep the mind tickled.

What do you see?

Image borrowed (with permission) from FB friend.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

EPF withdrawal at age 60: are you in favour?

"Don't believe a word. They're just rumours or speculations".

That was what the Human Resources Minister clarified to the media in Kuala Lumpur, Tuesday. According to him, no decision has been made yet by the government on the age limit for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal for private sector employees.

Daily Express, 19-06-2012

Re-cap of Bernama report

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 -- No decision has been made by the government on the age limit for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawal for private sector employees, Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said today. He advised EPF subscribers not to believe in rumours or speculations that those from the private sector could only make their EPF withdrawal after they had reached 60 years old.

He said this in response to concerns raised by EPF subscribers over the age limit for EPF withdrawals, following the tabling of the Minimum Retirement Age Bill in Parliament last Wednesday, which set the minimum retirement age for private sector employees at 60, effective January next year.

Speaking to reporters after opening a seminar on improving the administrative system of Social Organisations here, Subramaniam said the ministry understood the concerns raised by subscribers and would discuss the matter with the EPF. In another development, he said the ministry was in discussions with EPF to introduce a special pension scheme for private sector employees to address the problems of poverty and the high cost of living once they retire.

"No decision has been made and we will continue to discuss the matter with the EPF," he added.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

The Minimum Retirement Age Bill should be a straight forward exercise which should not be complicated with tying it with the EPF withdrawal rules. Rumour has it that an employee would finish up his EPF retirement savings just after 3 to 5 years from the withdrawal date. If that is the reason for the rumoured extension of EPF withdrawal age to 60 then I feel it is very unfair on the part of the government.

You (the govt) have already extended the minimum retirement age from 55 to 60; meaning you've taken care  of additional 5 years of that employee's welfare. Moreover, during the additional 5 years of working the employee is fully contributing to his 'extended' retirement coffers.

Leave the man (and woman) alone. Let him withdraw at current age limit of 55, remember it's his money he's been saving according to the law till age 55. Don't amend the law to withhold what is rightfully his.

It's still a long shot but I want to state what I want for myself long in future: I want my money at 55 and not 60. I am fully entitled to it and I want and can manage it better than EPF does.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sabah International Folklore Festival 2012

The Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) is back again this year from July 8 - 17 and this time it is expected to feature 20 international cultural dance troupes.

This is the 7th edition of the SIFF and it is essentially a celebration of the world cultural diversity and a platform to promote peace through music and dance. The festival feature both international and local folk dances that highlight the incredible diversity of our world's culture.

The East-meets-West musical extravaganza

What    : 7th International Folklore Festival, 2012 (Festival Kesenian Rakyat Antarabangsa Ke-7, 2012)
When   : 8 - 17 July 2012
Where  : Sabah Cultural Centre, Penampang
Theme : "Peace Through Culture"

What's in store for you

Date/Time     : 11 & 12 July 2012/ 7.00pm
Place            : Sabah Cultural Centre, Penampang
Ticket price   : RM10 - Adult
                      RM5  - Children under 17 years old

Date/Time     : 14 & 15 July 2012/ 7.00pm
Place           :  Sabah Cultural Centre, Penampang
Ticket price   : RM50 - Premier class
                      RM30 - Adult
                      RM10 - Children under 17 years old

Date/Time   :  13 July 2012/ 7.00pm
Place          :  Magellan Sutera Harbour, Kota Kinabalu
Ticket price :  RM10,000 / table
                     RM5,000 / table
                     RM3,000 / table
                     RM1,000 / table

The 7th SIFF 2012 is not something for you to miss!

Tickets are available at:

Sabah Cultural Board              -   Tel: +6088-268836
Cultural Centre, Penampang    -   Tel: +6088-714464
More info                                -


We had similar cultural festival last year but due to the 'heat' of SARS then, we decided to give that one a miss. Hopefully we'll be able to make it this time around.

I've just got to love this. I like everything that's preserving the various heritages we have around the world. It's like living green and preserving mother nature!

RM265,000 worth of banned Parabolic Dishes seized

Other than those of ASTRO's, satellite dishes are prohibited by law in Malaysia. Many quarters have tried in the past, to get the government - including those that were initiated by NGOs and some leaders from ruling government - to lift the ban on the use of such dishes in order to receive transmissions of information from foreign countries.

Daily Express - 16.6.2012

Latest on the Customs Department's crackdown on banned goods saw its officers confiscating 106 sets of parabolic satellite dishes worth RM180,000 and is the biggest such seizures in Sabah so far. According to current market price, the seized sets of dishes could worth RM265,000.

Media report

State Customs Deputy Director (Enforcement and Compliance), Hamzah Sundang told a media conference in Keningau Friday that the 2.20pm raid at a house in Jalan Masak here was made by a team lead by the District Customs Enforcement Officer, Michael Asik. He said the parabolic dish is a prohibited item listed under Schedule II of Custom Rule (Prohibition on Import) 2008 and would require an import permit from Sirim Berhad.

Those found in possession of a parabolic dish without valid permit could be charged under Section 135 (1)(d) of the Custom Act 1967, which provides a fine of not less than 10 times the value of the seized goods for the first offence and not more than 20 times the value of the goods or a jail term of not more than 3 years or both, if convicted.

Prohibition by Malaysian law

Schedule II (Prohibition on Import) 2008 : Goods can be imported only with an Import License.

Item 10
Apparatus or equipment to be attached to or connected to a Public Telecommunication network or system. Affected parties - all countries, SIRIM Berhad

Example: telephone sets, telephone sets for cellular network, base station, switching & routing apparatus, telephonic & telegraphic apparatus, walkie talkie, transceivers, radio telephonic receivers.

Item 11
All radio communication apparatus capable of being used for telecommunication in the frequency band lower than 3000 GHz or their motherboards except for:

  1. receiver that is designed for use in the broadcasting services; and
  2. radio communication apparatus having a valid licence issued by the 26 Telecommunication Authority of any country or an International Automatic Roaming (IAR) card issued by a licensed operator

Affected parties: All countries, SIRIM Berhad

Examples: transmission apparatus & transmission apparatus incorporating reception apparatus, radar apparatus, radio navigational aid, radio remote control apparatus

Why the ban?

Looking at the Schedule II of the (Prohibition of Imports) Order 2008, the reason for the prohibition can be speculated as not having the import permit necessary to bring in the apparatus, and possible quality control issues. Nothing else.

I read the short presentation on THE CUSTOMS IMPORT PROHIBITION ORDER 2008:- THE ROLE & FUNCTION OF CUSTOMS by Sirim-QAS and found no specific reason for the prohibition other than possible interference in the local communication system by such telecommunication apparatus. If you can get SIRIM to check on the quality of these dishes, you should be permitted to get them imported.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

The number of dishes and money involved in the latest crackdown gives us an impression that there could be more shipments of this popular household item that went undetected.

The monopolistic nature of ASTRO business model, coupled with the recent revision of fees/charges and the implementation of the 6% government service tax put ASTRO out of many people's reach and hence,   the difficulty in accessing information, especially to the rural folks. If people are hindered from their right to information, due to financial or legal reasons, they will find ways through the back door, as demonstrated by what is currently happening.

The key is 'Import Permit'. Under certain conditions, the law permits you and me to bring in such dishes. So,  why don't we relax the conditions a little bit and allow the people access to information. After all, the Malaysian government has never put any restriction to internet access in the country.

**UPDATE** - Another 90 satellite dishes worth RM225,000 were seized by Sabah Customs in Keningau on Monday. This makes a total of 196 confiscated parabola set. Total market worth is now RM490,000. (Source: Daily Express, 19-06-2012, page 4).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all dads where ever you may be.

I woke up to the greetings from wife and daughters today and I wished I could do the same to my late dad. I'm sure we'd take time to tee-up for a  nice wine although we might have different idea about drinking.

So, to all fathers out there, have a good company today, preferably with your love ones. God bless us all!

Lovely card from my daughter

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Renewable rankings of the G20 nations

The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Image credit: Natural Resources Defence Counil, NRDC

Leaders from the group of 20 developed and developing nations will meet in Los Cabos, Mexico on June 18-19, 2012. While they are preparing for it, Renewable Energy World (REW) gives some interesting statistics of ho these countries are faring on renewable generation and clean energy investment.

The United States, China and Germany are the top three producers of clean energy in G20

Understandably oil wells such as Saudi Arabia would pretty much be uninterested in renewables.

REW noted that although investment is growing, the clean energy sector is still struggling to carve out a larger slice of the overall energy mix. Since 2002, the amount of wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and wave power integrated into the grids of the G20 nations has grown three-fold.

However, this represents just 2.6% of the those nations’ total energy consumption. With the current rate of growth, that would equal less than 4% of total consumption by 2015 and about 6% by 2020. With consumption itself is also expected to grow, any reductions in carbon emissions would be quickly negated.

Set targets and guidelines

NRDC thinks that each member country should:
a) put in place plans to pass laws that would require at least 15% of their energy is produced from renewable sources by 2015
b) have strong commitments to create a framework for cooperation between countries that would help achieve the 15% goal
c) devise monitoring method that will ensure the guidelines are clear and the targets are met.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Average smoker spends RM178.80 on fags monthly

I mentioned previously that when you smoke, you inhale up to 4,000 chemicals. Bernama reported that an average smoker in the country spends RM178.80 on cigarettes per month.

Daily Express, 13-6-2012
So, this is what GATS - Global Adult Tobacco Survey - says. It could be RM150 or RM500 monthly for some.

The survey

The findings involving adult respondents aged 15 years and above were tabled at the GATS Malaysia Conference 2011 here Tueday, June 13.

Speaking to reporters after opening the conference, director-general of Health Datuk Dr Hassan Abdul Rahman said the findings would be capitalised in drawing up the National Tobacco Control Action Plan in future.

He said the study showed that 87.1% of smokers were aware of anti-smoking campaigns on television or radio while 45.8% of smokers were thinking of quitting due pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages. Dr. Hassan said 92.2% of respondents believed that smoking could cause serious illness while 85.8% believed that sniffing someone else’s cigarette smoke would cause serious illness.

The survey involved cooperation between the Health Ministry, the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. - Bernama.

A perspective

Let's look at a scenario where the RM180 is deposited monthly  into a fund manager (say ASB) account that gives 8% of dividend/bonus annually. From the Table, after 5 years you would have deposited (in this case spent/burnt) $10,800. Calculate the compound interest and you would have accumulated $13,685.

After 20 years of burning fags, you can compare your spendings with those of someone's that are deposited instead. You would have accumulated $106,753; I would love to have that to pay for a nice vacation after 20 years of hardwork.

Year Year Deposits   Total Deposits Yearly Interest   Accum. Interest     Total Sum
  1 2,160    2,160    172      172 $     2,332.80
  5 2,160 10,800 1,013   2,885 $   13,685.61
10 2,160 21,600 2,503 12,194 $   33,794.25
20 2,160 43,200 7,907 63,553 $ 106,753.51

Table 1: Interest is calculated yearly, and added at the end of each year

TheGreenMechanics two cents:

But it's my money and it's my health not yours, you say. Indeed they are yours. I'm just sharing this with everyone and if it's pertinent to what you are looking for, or what you wanted to know, then this will be of benefit to you.

Some would really want to quit smoking (and those includes my circle of friends) but there are also some who would vow to cling on to the addictive taste of fags no matter what.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Solar shutting down manufacturing In Germany, scaling back in Malaysia

First Solar Inc. says it is restructuring its operations in response to deteriorating market conditions in Europe. As part of this program, the company will close its manufacturing operations in Frankfurt, Germany, in the fourth quarter of this year. Additionally, the company will indefinitely idle four production lines at its manufacturing center in Kulim, Malaysia, on May 1.

First solar Frankfurt
'Permanently closed' - First Solar Frankfurt (Oder) Germany. Image: First Solar

First Solar in Kulim Kedah
'Indefinitely close four manufacturing lines' - First Solar in Kulim Kedah, Malaysia.
Image: Yeong Wei Kheen on Panoramio.

These actions, combined with other personnel reductions in Europe and the U.S., are expected to reduce First Solar's global workforce by approximately 2,000 positions - approximately 30% of the total. The restructuring initiatives are expected to reduce First Solar's costs by $30 million to $60 million this year and $100 million to $120 million annually going forward.

In addition, the company's average manufacturing cost is expected to improve to between $0.70/W and $0.72/W in 2012 as a result of the changes - below prior expectations of $0.74/W. First Solar estimates that average module manufacturing costs will range from $0.60/W to $0.64/W in 2013.

Mike Ahearn, chairman and interim CEO of First Solar, said in a statement that the European PV market has "deteriorated," causing the company's manufacturing operations there to cease to be economically sustainable.

"First Solar's decision to permanently close its German production facility and indefinitely close four lines at its Malaysian facility once again demonstrates the intense pressure that even the 'lowest cost' PV producers are under today to reduce their manufacturing costs," commented Sam Wilkinson, senior analyst at research firm IMS Research, in a statement.

"First Solar's costs (per watt) had been around 50% lower than those of a typical Chinese tier-one c-Si manufacturer in 2009," Wilkinson said. "Following rapid declines in polysilicon pricing, that difference is now less than $0.10/W and is predicted to close further throughout 2012.

"We've seen a number of recent examples of major Western suppliers shutting down local production of wafers, cells and modules in favor of sourcing products from Asian manufacturers as it is lower cost and offers greater flexibility," he added.

Via: Solar Industry

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Australia's A$450 million solar PV project

Australia will go ahead with a large-scale solar PV project in New South Wales state to be undertaken by solar panel manufacturing giant First Solar, and gas retailer AGL Energy.

One of First Solar's projects. Image: First Solar Inc.

Australian federal government awarded a $130 million grant to AGL Energy and First Solar to build the 159 MW grid connected solar power stations. The A$450million (US$446 mil) renewable energy project will be built at two sites - Broken Hill and Nyngan.

Brief description of the project

Locations : Broken Hill and Nyngan in New South Wales
Generating capacity: 159 MW
Electricity sufficient for: 30,000 homes
Cost : A$450 million
Completion : end-2015
Job created by the project: 150 jobs in Broken Hill & up to 300 in Nyngan

Sydney Morning Herald reported that Energy Minister Martin Ferguson reopened first-round bidding in February after the consortium behind the initial winner - the Moree Solar Farm - proposed major changes to its project and failed to meet a December deadline to secure financial backing.

Mr Ferguson on Saturday (June 9) said the 159 megawatt project in Broken Hill and Nyngan represented excellent value for money and would ensure Australia brought industrial-scale solar power to market. The energy minister said a rigorous assessment process by the independent Solar Flagships Council found the AGL-First Solar bid had the highest level of merit overall "representing value-for-money, low risk and high commercial viability".

"At the end of the day it all comes down to cost and if large scale solar is going to succeed in Australia it has to be cost competitive," Mr Ferguson said in a statement.

But he noted all short-listed applicants, including the Moree Solar Farm, TRUenergy and Infigen-Suntech bids, were of "high merit" and would be referred to the new Australian Renewable Energy Agency for future funding consideration.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents on Malaysian scenario

Great move by Australia. Remember this country is one of the major producers of the 'dirty' coal and in terms of consumption it is in the top ten countries.

Australia made the move to spend more in producing energy from cleaner source. They are focused towards becoming 'net user' compared to Malaysia which seems to be aiming at becoming major producer of the solar panel itself.

First Solar has solar PV manufacturing plant in Kedah, Malaysia but has since scaled back production due to deteriorating demand in European market. I think we should increase solar panel usage domestically rather than depending too much on export. Get the state governments to contribute to the FIT fund coffer and revise the quota for both individual and non-individual rooftop/solar farm installations.

Create domestic market for panels you produce locally. What message are you sending to the world when you produce a lot of panels but you yourself don't use them?

Read more:

USM invented slimming noodle

Fancy enjoying your favorite noodle while losing weight at the same time? You can, now. Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) researchers have created dry yellow noodles to help consumers lose weight.

Slimming noodle invented by USM
USM's Prof Azhar and Li Ling Yun showing the layered noodles. Photo: The Star Online.

The capsaicin-enriched layered noodles invented by researchers headed by Prof Azhar Mat Easa is believed to be the first of its kind in the world and it has won them a Malaysian Invention and Design Society 2012 gold medal.

"Capsaicin is an active hot substance found in plants like chili and not many can consume it in large amounts," he told a press conference.

He said in developed countries, like the United States, capsaicin was taken in the form of capsules and had a side effect on users as it contained chemicals, and also required a considerable expenditure. Azhar said the product was the first of its kind in the world because it offered a supply of capsaicin without irritation or a sting in the mouth.

He said layered noodle could help reduce up to a kilogramme in weight a week if 50 grammes were consistently taken daily.

"The layered noodle is cross-blended and capsaicin is flanked by two layers of flour making it more elastic and dense.

"These characteristics allow the noodle to stay longer in the system and enable the substance to burn calories in the body," he said.

Other than being nutritious and filling, the product could be enjoyed just like any other typical noodles. USM was discussing with several companies to commercialise the product which was expected to hit the market soon.

How much: RM7 per 100 grammes (two servings)
Availability: Soon to be announced. Stay tuned!

The Green Mechanics: Less chemicals and more natural ingredients in a food. Eat and still lose weight, that's a bonus. I like it (although I don't see myself being overweight).

Source: The Star Online, June 7, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pilot embarks on first solar-powered inter-continental trip

This is very interesting and it goes to show that where there is a will there is a way. The aircraft can fly without a single drop of fuel. It is powered by the sun. Each of the motors on the carbon-fiber craft charges 400-kilogramme (880-pound) lithium polymer batteries during the day, allowing the aircraft to carry on flying after dark.

The Swiss solar-powered aircraft takes off on 24 May 012 in Payerne and travel through Madrid , destined for Rabat in Morocco. AFP photo.

The Solar Impulse plane, a giant as big as an Airbus A340 but as light as an average family car, is piloted by Bertrand Piccard, 54-year-old psychiatrist and balloonist, on the daring voyage from Europe to Africa.

The solar-powered Impulse plane specs:

Wingspan: 63.40 m
Length: 21.85 m
Height: 6.40 m
Weight: 1,600 kgk
Average speed: 70 km/h
Altitude max: 8,500 m
Propulsion: 4 electric motors (10 HP each)
Solar cell: 12,000 cells on wing & 880 cells on horizontal stabiliser

As Piccard guided the experimental plane almost silently aloft from Madrid-Barajas airport at 5:22 am (0322 GMT), a red light could be seen disappearing into the moon-lit sky.

An onboard camera relayed pictures of the Spanish capital's quiet streets stretched out below the aircraft, which has 12,000 solar cells in the wings turning four electrical motors.

Helped by a tailwind, Piccard gradually piloted the plane towards 3,600 metres (11,800 feet) as he headed to Seville in southern Spain. He was then to cross the Gibraltar Strait at 8,500 metres (28,000 feet), enter Moroccan airspace over Tangiers and land in Rabat-Sale some time after 11 pm (2200 GMT).

Piccard, who made the world's first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight in 1999 together with Briton Brian Jones, took over the controls from project co-founder Andre Borschberg, a 59-year-old Swiss executive and pilot. Borschberg flew a first leg from Payerne in Switzerland, landing in Madrid on May 25.

Organisers said the trip, 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) overall, is timed to coincide with the launch of construction on the largest ever solar thermal plant in Morocco's southern Ouarzazate region.

The voyage also is intended as a rehearsal for the plane's round-the-world flight planned for 2014. The aircraft made history in July 2010 as the first manned plane to fly around the clock on the sun's energy.

It holds the record for the longest flight by a manned solar-powered aeroplane after staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds above Switzerland, also setting a record for altitude by flying at 9,235 metres (30,298 feet).

The Green Mechanics: Very interesting prospect if you are an investor. Inspiring, if you are an inventor. Motivating, if you like learning new things.

Source: MSN News

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Samsung Galaxy S3 price - Malaysia

When it was first made available in Malaysia on 31 May 2012, some telcos offered the new Galaxy S III for as low as RM999, with data subscription package.

Which telco to go for?

For the world's biggest economy, TECH SOURCE reported that American consumers can start pre-ordering the Galaxy S3 starting June 6, for as low as US$199.99 ( approx. RM632) for a 2-year contract 16GB, at AT&T. Meanwhile, Sprint will sell the Galaxy S3 16 GB for $199.99 (two year contract), and the 32 GB version for $249.99 (approx. RM789).

Galaxy S III Malaysia prices

Click here for detailed specifications of the Galaxy S3.

The recommended retail price for the new S3 is RM2,199 but there is already talk on the street that the price would soon touch RM2,100 (set only). Samsung smart phones are notoriously known for drastic drop in prices after being in the market for a month or two, so, watch out for that and get your timing right.

Monthly commitment: RM68 (for data only)
Upfront payment: RM200 to RM500 depending on length of contract
Data quota: 3 GB
Device prices: RM1,399 (24-month contract), RM1,599 (18-month) and RM1,699 (12-month)

Monthly commitment: RM63 (applicable to Auto-billing only) + voice call included
Upfront payment: NA
Data quota: 3 GB
Device prices: RM1,449 (24-month contract) and RM1,699 (12-month)

Monthly commitment: RM108 + voice call included
Upfront payment: RM300
Data quota : 3 GB
Device prices: RM1,678 (18-month contract) and RM1,748 (12-month).

There are other data plans, such as 1GB and 5GB but I choosed 3GB for illustration as this is the likely amount of data one will be needing. With the capability of the high-end mobile smartphone, the amount of data downloaded as well as uploaded will increase. For smartphone, 1.5GB data plan used to be regarded as the default choice for many. Not anymore.

SESB offers explaination on the 30 April 2012 total blackout

I would like to share what SESB explained in detail in one of the local dailies which is not made available in its website Some slight changes made on the text to simplify the article, but leaving the clarity and meaning intact.

Formally expressing its sincere apology, the company through its MD highlighted four significant aspects of the incident, namely:

1. What triggered the incident?
2. Why the 66kV Capacitive Voltage Transformer (CVT) failed?
3. Why it took a long time to restore supply in some areas?
4. The SAIDI figure integrity.

Typical 132kV main intake station (Pencawang Masuk Utama, PMU)

What triggered the incident?

The disruption to the supply system was initiated by a failure of a 66kV CVT at the Main Intake Station (PMU) Penampang at 3.23am. This had in turn caused cascading trippings to 2 of the anchor power stations in the West Coast totalling 290MW out of the 550MW load at the time of the incident. These had caused the relatively small capacity generating sets running in the East Coast at that time to experience overloading and their protection systems tripped them off also.

With the tripping of the 2 anchor power stations in the West Coast which represent >50% of the demand at the time of incident and the subsequent protective trippings of the small power stations in the East Coast had caused the Grid frequency to plunge to a critical level that eventually brought down the whole Grid, i.e. blackout. This is a standard fail-safe mechanism designed for any Grid operation to prevent more widespread damage to the other components under similar circumstances.

Why the 66kV CVT failed?

Having studied and analysed the event log available at the SESB State Load Despatch Centre (SLDC) in Penampang by the engineers from TNB and SESB, it was found out that the particular CVT had experienced an intermittent and transient over-voltage. Unfortunately the intermittent and transient over-voltage which occurred in milliseconds was not readily detectable as it is not a standard power utility practice to install a real time monitoring facility for this type of equipment even for some bigger power utility entities. This had therefore been diagnosed to be as the reason for the CVT failure.

For the record, the failure of this particular CVT was the one and only incident in the 24 years of its installation. The CVT had been religiously maintained in accordance to the standard and mandatory requirement for such installation among which are:

i)   Last preventive maintenance, PPM: 2009 (5-yearly interval)
ii)  Last routine maintenance: 4 April 2012 (monthly)
iii) Last condition-based maintenance (thermo-scan and ultrasound): 9 March 2012 (6-monthly interval)

All the results from the latest maintenance activity as above had shown no anomalies. SESB also highlighted that the size of this CVT is of no significant relevance in the way it affects the Grid System operation because the manner in which an equipment failure affects the Grid System operation also depends on many other factors such as generation capacity, power transfer from one point to another within the Grid, generation balance within the Grid, the fault level it triggered and the generator assigned as the system frequency control at the time of incident besides not forgetting the exercise of a prudent economic despatch regime.

SESB said that it is definitely not an apple to apple comparison to say that the CVT to the Grid System operation is the same as a compass to a ship. It is more like a choked fuel filter on an engine of the ship which will cause the engine to stall and leaving the ship immobilised and stranded in the open seas until the engine is operational again.

Why it took a long time to restore supply in some areas?

As part of SESB's standard operating procedure, SOP, under such a situation, an established Emergency Response Plan (ERP) was immediately activated with the Managing Director or the Senior General manager (asset Management) being the Commander and the General Manager (System Operation) will act as the overall coordinator for the Grid System restoration.

Under such conditions the Grid Operation will be split into 6 independent islanding operations to facilitate safe, orderly and speedy restorations. The 6 'islands' are Patau, Pangi, Salut, Melawa, Sandakan and Tawau. This was what had been activated during the incident on the 30th April 2012. The extent in which supply restoration can be achieved in these separate independent islands depends primarily on the generation capacity compared to the load demands within the island.

If the generation capacity far exceeds the load demands then a safe, full and speedy restoration could be achieved. Conversely, the island in which the generation capacity is lower than the load demands, at best only partial restoration could be achieved in a safe manner. Full supply restoration could only be achieved once all the independent islands are safely connected to the Grid again with all identified generator achieved full and stable operations.

During the incident on 30th April, the first partial area restored was in Tawau at 4.20am, while the last 11kV feeder restored was in Balung, Tawau at 7.47pm. The main reason for the long delay to achieve full Grid operation was due to some of the generators had unfortunately not been able to achieve full, safe and stable operation faster. For this, a further analysis had been commissioned by both TNB and SESB engineers to ascertain the root cause which will also cover all aspect of generator start-up requirement such as, among others, auxiliary relay settings, gas supply conditions and gas to distillate change-over facilities on the relevant power stations, both which belongs to SESB and the IPPs.

The SAIDI figure integrity

Find out how to calculate SAIDI in my previous article.

SESB is required by Energy Commission Malaysia (EC), through regulatory compliance of one of the License Conditions, to submit reports on supply status on a daily basis. The actual official figure for SAIDI announced by SESB from time to time is that which had been endorsed by Energy Commission. Only EC can certify certain SAIDI figure to be officially taken as true number.

It should be noted that SAIDI is just one of the internationally accepted measure for electricity supply performance. Electricity supply performance is also the result of the existence of adequate basic infrastructure such as logistically balanced anchor generation sources and capacity, strong complete-loop transmission network as well as distribution infrastructure. Hence, highlighting the persistent efforts by SESB to implement projects in the East Coast to help create generating balance in the Grid System.

Prevention of recurrence of similar fault

To prevent future happenings of similar incident, SESB with the technical collaborations from experts in TNB had embarked to re-assess the network defence system to effectively and efficiently match the ever increasing demand in Sabah

Date published: 24th May 2012
Newspaper: Daily Express, Sabah