Sunday, March 31, 2013

Renewable energy FiT rates await Sabah state government nod

I remember when we engaged the services of a Peninsula-based Renewable Energy consulting company in 2011 in anticipation of the FiT scheme set to be implemented beginning 2012, everyone was very excited about the prospect of second source of revenue for the company.

The potential was to install at least 700kWp of solar PV each at several existing structures under our jurisdiction. Indications are very much pointing to a total capacity of 2 MW. In the end we learnt that the quota for non-individual Solar PV was snapped within the first couple of hours of the opening of online bidding carried out by SEDA Malaysia.

Later we found out that a JV between Sabah Energy Corp. and SESB secured portion of the quota and news were going around that they were set to build the first commercial solar farm in Sabah.

Sadly, until today this has not materialised yet partly because FiT for Renewable Energy was suspended indefinately in Sabah.

No. Not until we start paying the 1% levy on our electricity bills!

A the moment, renewable energy (RE) producers in Sabah, mostly biomass and biogas plant operators at palm oil mills, are not able to subscribe to the feed-in tariff (FiT).

Unlike in Peninsular Malaysia, RE producers in Sabah have to be contented with TNB's Small Renewable Energy Projects (SREP) rate of 21 sen per kWh, instead of the 32 sen per kWh under the FiT.

This is because under the law, RE producers in Sabah will only be eligible for FiT when the 1% RE levy is collected by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, a 70% subsidiary of TNB, from heavy power users in Sabah.

FiT essentially guarantees RE producers a premium selling price over that generated from depleting and finite sources such as oil, gas and coal. Power generated from sustainable sources that benefits from FiT includes:

  • Biomass (oil palm, etc)
  • Biogas (methane from landfill, etc)
  • Small hydro power, and
  • Solar PV

Since December 2011, heavy power users in Peninsular Malaysia using more than 350kWh or whose monthly bills exceed RM77, have been paying the one per cent RE levy to TNB.

The Sabah government, however, had appealed against collection of RE levy, saying it would be too taxing on heavy power users here. Now that it has been over a year, the federal government indicated that the Sabah government seemed to have come around.

Business Times reported on March 27, 2013 that Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry secretary general Datuk Loo Took Gee as saying "the Sabah government has verbally agreed, we met up this week." She was speaking to reporters after representing Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin in officiating at the launch of the Eco-B workshop organised by Malaysia Green Building Confederation.

Asked when Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman will sign on and allow TNB to collect RE levy from heavy power users in Sabah, Loo replied: "We'll have to wait for the official letter from the Sabah state government".

TheGreenMechanics: Why not. With the implementation of the FiT scheme in Sabah, we'll get to enjoy the premium rates of, say, electricity generated from solar PV on our rooftops.

Reference: Business Times

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Indonesia launched second round Green Investment Campaign

In South East Asia region, Thailand seems the clear leader in green investment and initiatives towards promoting renewable energy. In Malaysia, there are clear indications that we are getting more serious in working towards achieving the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emission.

It is good that Indonesia is also working in tandem to go green.

Green Investment Towards Innovation and Productivity

JAKARTA -- Collaborative stakeholders have launched a campaign of the 'Second Round Green Investment Towards Innovation and Productivity in Indonesia' to support the Indonesian government in mainstreaming climate change issues.

The stakeholders consist of National Council on Climate Change (DNPI), Matsushita Gobel Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Indonesia Chief Editors Forum, Indonesian news agency ANTARA reported.

The Second Round Green Investment campaign is aimed at sharing ideas and experiences on potential for green investments and also attended by experts, scientists and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

DNPI executive chair Rachmat Witoelar said during the launch here Wednesday that the roots of climate change are anthropogenic and man-made problems need to be tackled by man.

"Stakeholders of all levels rely on partnership with the media to spread the message of climate change impacts and solutions to the citizens," he said.

President Director of PT Gobel International, Rachmat Gobel, said Matsushita Gobel Foundation has been supporting collaborative efforts towards green industry through the first round of green investment that provided technical roundtable on green technology and green industry.

"The second round green investment is launched to face new challenges to boost high economic growth and mitigation efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emission," he said.

"Efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emission have become a global market trend as is the increasing demand of eco-green products. Understanding green technology and implementation of the green industry is critical to increase competitiveness," he added. -- Bernama, March 28

US dentist put 7,000 patiens at risk of HIV and other diseases

This happened in United States but it can happen anywhere, including clinics at your backyard.

I'm not implying that your favourite dentist is guilty of dirty equipment but it is always wise to be observant and put up a wandering eyes the next time you go into the treatment room of a dental healthcare. The risk - contracting Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

Oh no!

US dentist put 7,000 patients at risk of HIV, other diseases

CHICAGO: A dirty dentist placed 7,000 patients at risk of contracting HIV and other infectious diseases after failing to properly sterilize equipment at his Oklahoma practice, health officials warned Thursday.

Officials do not yet know if any patients were infected but urged everyone who had ever been treated at the Tulsa oral surgery practice to be tested at a free clinic.

"We do not know how long these improper practices have been occurring, so we recommend that all patients of Dr. (Scott) Harrington's be tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV," the Oklahoma health department said in a statement.

"It should be noted that transmission in this type of occupational setting is rare."

Inspectors discovered a host of problems with the Tulsa dental practice earlier this month and Harrington voluntarily shut his doors until the investigation is complete.

In addition to the rusty equipment, inspectors also found expired drugs - including a vial that should have been thrown out in 1993 - and a host of other violations, the Tulsa World reported.-AFP

Further readings at: PHILLY.COM

Friday, March 29, 2013

IMF urges countries to cut energy subsidies

A case in point:
Malaysia's high car prices and subsidised fuel.

A 1.8E Toyota Altis (Corolla) would cost RM119,000 in Malaysia but only $18,180 (approx RM56,000) in the US. The difference is RM63,000.

We know that the fuel price in the US is much higher than our subsidised RON95 but the point here is that, we the consumers pay upfront subsidy of RM63,000. Take the government subsidy of RM0.82/litre (in the pic) and say you refuel 50litre/week, you enjoy subsidy of RM41 a week or RM2,132 annually.

If that is your refueling pattern, how long do you think the RM63,000 will last you? More than 20 years I reckon. So, would you support subsidised fuel or get a better car at lower price and manage your own fuel consumption. I think it is smarter that way.

The blanket subsidy that is practiced in our country benefits not the poor but the middle-income and the rich population. I read in The Star that 71% of fuel subsidy was enjoyed by the middle to high-income level groups (Source: Pemandu).

If it is up to me, I'd rather buy an Altis at RM56,000 and pay RM3.30 for my petrol; I'm still better off financially 20 years later.

Do subsidies on energy hurt the economy? And ultimately the masses?

"We have been hearing about countries that are finding that the fiscal weight of energy subsidies is growing too large to bear. In some countries budget deficits are becoming unmanageable and threatening the stability of the economy."
- IMF first deputy managing director David Lipton, in Washington.

Source: International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2012, Energy Subsidies via IER website.

Cut subsidies on energy - says IMF

WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund urged countries to reduce subsidies on energy, saying they worsen government’s fiscal positions and eventually create more advantages for the wealthy instead of the poor.

In a broad-reaching report, the IMF said subsidies of oil, petrol and electricity are aimed at helping consumers, but end up costing them as governments struggle to shoulder the cost burden.

Moreover, the study said, subsidies encourage energy waste, discourage investment in energy-efficient industries, and exacerbate pollution and global warming.

Worldwide the direct subsidies on energy — when consumers pay less than the basic supply costs — amounted to $480 billion worldwide in 2011, according to the IMF.

If post-tax subsidies are counted — when the prices do not cover such things like the negative impact on the environment — the government support worldwide measured $1.9 trillion.

Most of the subsidies are in oil exporters, where they contribute to speeded-up depletion of a natural resource.But energy importers suffer especially as global oil and gas prices have risen over the past three years.

Many have not responded by adjusting domestic energy prices to match the increases — and so expanding the fiscal burden of subsidies, according to the report.

IMF first deputy managing director David Lipton, in an address introducing the report in Washington said that countries that have offered subsidies to help struggling populations “now find they suffer both fiscal paralysis and energy shortages.”

Lipton said 20 countries in the world maintain subsidies that top five percent of their GDP.Such subsidies “remain a stumbling block to higher growth by squeezing out much needed health, education and infrastructure spending,” he said.

But the report points out that, if post-tax subsidies are counted, the largest offenders are the United States, China and Russia — together their subsidies reach nearly $900 billion worth.
Source: Business Inquirer

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bosch stops RM2.2 billion solar project in Penang

Back in 2011, a global player in the solar energy industry, Sun Bear's plan to build a RM5.2billion solar glass plant in KKIP, Sabah didn't materialise due to power supply issue. Insufficient power supply to be exact.

Recently, Germany's Bosch announced it was shelving a plan to build a RM2.2 billion solar facility in Batu Kawan, Penang - for a different reason.

One of Bosch facilities in Penang. motortrader pix.

Bosch shelves RM2.2b investment in Penang

TheSunDaily, March 26

Bosch Solar Energy Sdn Bhd will quit a proposed RM2.2 billion investment to build a new solar facility in Batu Kawan as part of a decision by its parent to discontinue their global crystalline photovoltaic (PV) business.

In a statement last Friday Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH said it will stop manufacturing of ingots, wafers, cells, and modules at the beginning of 2014 and as far as possible, individual units are to be sold quickly. It said that its module plant in Vénissieux, France, is to be sold, while plans to construct a manufacturing facility in Malaysia will end.

In December 2011, after an extensive global site selection, Bosch purchased an industrial site in Batu Kawan.

They had planned to start construction of the new facility in Q1, 2012 and start operations by early 2013. These plans however did not take off but Bosch had paid the land purchase according to schedule to reflect its commitment to the project.

Early 2012 Bosch announced that due to global overcapacity, price declines and major shakeouts in the PV industry the project in Batu Kawan will be delayed.

"Despite extensive measures to reduce manufacturing cost over the past year, we were unable to offset the drop in prices, which was as much as 40%," Bosch Solar Energy AG supervisory board chairman Dr Stefan Hartung said in a statement, adding that losses for the solar division amounted to €1billion (RM4.04billion) last year.

In a separate statement, InvestPenang chairman Datuk Simon Wong said the state government's investment arm has noted the decision to stop the manufacturing of solar energy parts. He said the decision was unavoidable in view of the current state of the global PV industry.

Hopefully, it is not the end of the road yet - at least in the context of FDI in Penang - as Business Times reported an industry source as saying "Bosch have conveyed to the state investment authorities that it is committed to the assets it possess in Penang and will need to rejig their plans."

Malaysian household income hits RM5,000

The average monthly income of Malaysian households rose from RM4,025 in 2009 to RM5,000 in 2012, an increase of 7.2% annually. This is according to the 2012 Household Income Survey.

Household income in 2012: RM5,000 (US$1,611). Daily Express, March 28

Kuala Lumpur leads with the highest growth of 14.9% from RM5,488 in 2009 to RM8,586 (US$2,770) in 2012. But Putrajaya took the throne with zero-poverty status last year.

Perlis, Terengganu and Sabah are among the low-income states. I wonder where Kelantan stands in the table.

Average Malaysian household income in 2009 was RM4,025 (US$1,300)

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

The overall incidence of poverty last year was 1.7% which is below the 2% target by 2015. That's good, but in Sabah the poverty incidence is still at a whooping 8.1% (down from 19.7% in 2009).

The statisticians tell us that Sabah emerged as the best performing state in poverty eradication with its poverty rate. But almost every other states are below 2% and statistics do not tell us the absolute numbers. We have the most number of poor houshold. A 8.1% poverty incidence means that we have more than 250,000 people that are categorised as poor.

Average monthly Malaysian household income hits RM5,000
As reported in Borneo Post, March 27.
The 2012 Household Income Survey found the average monthly income of Malaysian households rising from RM4,025 in 2009 to RM5,000 in 2012, an increase of 7.2% annually.

In announcing the statistics here today, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the urban household monthly income increased at a rate of 6.6% a year from RM4,705 in 2009 to RM5,742 last year, while the rural household monthly income rose 6.4% annually from RM2,545 to RM3,080.

"The significant income rise was achieved with the federal government's efforts in ensuring continuous, stable and strong growth in the economy. The impact was via widespread increase in economic opportunities which generated employment with business and industrial development in various economic sectors," he said.

Nor Mohamed said all states also recorded better average monthly household incomes with Kuala Lumpur leading with the highest growth of 14.9% from RM5,488 to RM8,586.

He said this was followed by Labuan with 12% from RM4,407 to RM6,317, Perlis with 10.1% from RM2,617 to RM3,538, Terengganu 9.1% from RM3,017 to RM3,967, and Negeri Sembilan and Sabah from RM3,540 to RM4,576 and from RM3,102 to RM4,013 respectively. On the ethnic breakdown, Indians recorded the highest increase in monthly household income at 9% from RM3,999 to RM5,233, followed by the Chinese at 8% from RM5,011 to RM6,366 and Bumiputeras, 6.9% from RM3,624 to RM4,457.

There was also a significant reduction in the overall incidence of poverty from 3.8% in 2009 to 1.7% last year, with the total number of household poor plunging 52.7% from 228,400 to 108,000 in the same period.

He said the overall incidence of poverty in the urban areas contracted from 1.7% to 1% while the rural area rate was slashed to 3.4% from 8.4%.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SEDA Malaysia announced release of 20 MW solar PV quota for non-individuals under 500kW

Announcement date       : Wednesday, 27 March 2013
Solar PV quota               : 20 MW
Category                         : under 500kW, non-individual
Opening date                  : 2 April 2013, 12.00 noon
Degression rate               : 20% for installation exceeding 24kWp
Degression rate (bonus criteria) : changed from 8% to 0%
Degression effective date          : 28 March 2013

SEDA Malaysia Announces Opening of 20 MW of Solar PV quota on 2nd April 2013

Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia (SEDA Malaysia) have announced the long anticipated solar photovoltaic (PV) release of the 20 MW of solar PV quota for the non-individuals under the 500kW category.

The solar PV quota will be released on Tuesday, 2nd April 2013 at 12 noon. Chairman of SEDA Malaysia, YB Tan Sri Dr Fong Chan Onn said that these 20 MW solar PV quotas is subjected to the degression rates of 20%, for installed capacity exceeding 24 kW, as previously announced by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA).

Snapshot of the current SEDA FiT rate. For installation size of above 24kW, due to the announced 20% degression rate, come Jan 1, 2014, FiT rate would not be RM0.9988/kWh but lower.

The degression rates for bonus criteria of locally manufactured PV modules and inverters have been reduced from 8% to 0%. These degression rates are effective as of 28th March 2013.

Feed-in Approval (FiA) applicants who are applying for the 2013 solar PV quota need to ensure that their solar PV systems are commissioned before the 1st January 2014. If they are unable to commission within the FiA application’s approval year, their FiT rates for the following year shall be subjected to the degression rates prevailing at the point of application, i.e. 20%

Example of the consequence of the inability of FiAHs to have their solar PV systems commissioned before the 1st January 2014:

Installed PV capacity: >24kWp
Degression rate: 20%
Note: SEDA Malaysia is obliged to review the degression rates twice a year

If the degression rates are subsequently revised downward to say 9% on 1st January 2014, any feed-in approval holders (FiAHs) of 2013 who fail to commission their PV systems (installed capacity > 24 kW) by 31st December 2013 is still subjected to the degression rate at the point of application which will be 20%.

The new 9% degression rate is only applicable to applicants who applied after 31st December 2013. This means any FiAHs who are unable to commission their solar PV system before 1 January 2014 will have their rates degress to another 20%.

Source: SEDA Malaysia press release

2MW landfill gas plant powers up 1000 homes

Thanks to innovative people.

According to Malaysia Book of Records, the biogas power plant at the Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill in Puchong is the first plant in the country to generate electricity using landfill gas.

About the landfill gas power plant:

Location                             : Puchong, Selangor
Landfill name                    : Worldwide Landfill Parks (renamed after being rehabilitated)
Generating capacity          : 2 MW
Feed-in tariff scheme         : Biogas (energy is sold to TNB at RM0.40/kWh for 16 years)
Feed-in tariff approval       : Since March 2012
Energy source                   : Landfill - solid wastes collected from around Klang Valley since 1995
Stored energy                   : The land-filled waste can sustain energy production for at least 16 years
Number of homes served  : about 1,000 although some reports stated 2,000 households.
Others                               : The park is open to visitors and researchers.

Zamri Abdul Rahman (left) showing SEDA CEO, Badriyah Abdul Malek (second right) and other SEDA representatives on how the methane gas is siphoned out for producing electric energy. Pic by NST/Che Rani Che Din

The Puchong Experience: 2 MW is produced at landfill gas plant

The methane gas from the Air Hitam Sanitary Landfill in Puchong -- generated from the waste accumulated over the past 10 years -- is now being put to good use to produce electricity.

The gas, found in landfills, is converted into electricity in a gas power plant that transfers the gas from underground pipes into an energy converter to produce, on average, two mega watts of energy every month. The electricity output is said to be able to power about a thousand households.

The landfill, which was closed after it reached its maximum use in 2006, was rehabilitated and renamed as Worldwide Landfills Park, with the renewable energy project undertaken by Worldwide Landfills Sdn Bhd. The landfill, saturated with 6.2 million metric tonnes of waste from its decade-old operations, can produce the 2MW energy for at least another 16 years.

The project was initiated in 2004, in cooperation with TNB Energy Services Sdn Bhd.

According to Worldwide Holdings Bhd general manager (environment) Zamri Abdul Rahman, the landfill was recently named as the first sanitary landfill to produce 2MW electricity in the Malaysia Book of Records.

"We are proud of the achievement and recognition given for the landfill. Nevertheless, our aim is to produce renewable energy from the waste at this former landfill," he said.

He said the project was initiated to supply power to the landfill operations but with TNB's participation, the electricity produced is now sold to TNB for 40 sen per kilo watt.

"The 2MW energy will be channelled to the main national power grid," he said.

Zamri added the Worldwide Landfills Park is open to visitors, especially students or agencies carrying out research on waste management and environmental studies. He said the company was looking at other landfills to convert them into power producers.

Zamri was speaking at a briefing session on the plant's operation to Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) chief executive officer Badriyah Abdul Malek and SEDA board members.
Source: New Straits Times

TheGreenMechanics' two cents: 

We have a solid waste dumping site near Kota Kinabalu located in Kayu Madang Telipok which I think would have been filled beyond its capacity by now. Some estimates this facility to be covering up to 145 hectares in lanfill area.

The dumping site has been there for more than 10 years and there's every possibility that this could surpass the capacity and sustainability of the gas power plant in Puchong, Selangor.

Monday, March 25, 2013

SESB's advice to complainants

In a bid to reach out to its more than 488,000 customers, SESB has launched its Official Facebook page and Twitter. With this, it is hoped that the general public would not be misled anymore by other facebook pages found on the net.

You can "Talk To Us" anytime but provide full information!

I like the idea of being able to contact the utility company  anytime, anywhere, in whatever way. It's fast and hassle-free.

The following newspaper cutting (Daily Express - Mar 25, 2013), says "they can also channel their complaints through toll-free line or through Talk To Us in SESB's website". I was looking for that particular section in their website and actually found none. But "Contact Us" menu would do the job just fine.

Information is powerful, so they say.

So, for best result, provide as much information as possible when making inquiries through the available channels, with at least the followings:-

  • complainant's name
  • location
  • nature of complaint
  • contact number
  • full description (if space is not an issue)

I don't know about you, but for me, I've tested this out and am now waiting eagerly for some response.

"We want to give our customer the best services. We aim to give the right information, to the right people, at the right time and through the right channels."
- SESB Managing Director, Ir. Abdul Razak Sallim, during the launching of the Official SESB Facebook page.

Read more.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Use energy prudently for Earth Hour

That's what TNB, the national power provider said. But I'd say use energy prudently At All Times.

Do you know that, for each unit of energy we consume at home, the power provider used 3 times a much of fuel to supply it. For instance, for 100kWh of energy we use in a week, TNB or SESB need 300kWh worth of fuel to produce it.

One unit saved at home is equivalent to 3 units saved at TNB power plant.

REMEMBER: A small save at home is a big save at the power plant!

Going by the amount of energy saved, it seems that Malaysians' support for Earth Hours is declining:

2009 :  306 MW saved
2010 :  203 MW
2011 : 130 MW
2012 : 105 MW
2013 :  ?

So, anyway, you can do your part by leaving the non-essential lights off, and do the things you like to do (in my case photography). Go ahead, shoot some night activities such as these:-

(Note: All of the following pictures are mine and are copyrighted. If you would like to use them, please ask for my permission and make a backlink to this website)

kk city
Go to Suria Sabah and shoot a cityscape. The water front is a great place to start with.

Sutera walk
Walk to the beach and shoot the sea. It doesn't require you to turn a light on.

petronas towers
If you happen to be shopping at KLCC today, take a moment of your time to capture Petronas Twin Towers at 8.00 pm.

PerdanaPark fountain800 horizontal frame
If you need some music while shooting the fountain, go to Perdana Park in Tanjung Aru, KK. The musical fountain starts as early as 7.00pm

Kasih Sayang Niteshoot600 120-05-1
Alternatively, if you like tranquil, peaceful retreat and still able to enjoy the night with the light out, go to Kasih Sayang Resort. Pic: Kota Kinabalu and Likas area shot from the resort.

_DSC7560-600 moon
Or stay at home, go out to your compound and shot the sky. Half an hour will do.

Use energy prudently for Earth Hour: TNB

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 (Bernama) -- Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has urged the public the reduce their electricity usage during the Earth Hour celebrations here tomorrow (23.3.2013).

Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Communication Adelina Iskandar said since 2009, about 306 megawatts (MW) have been saved during the one-hour campaign, with 203 MW in 2010, 130 MW in 2011 and 105 MW last year.

"We have noticed a drop in electricity saved during the one-hour celebrations, and we hope the public will continue to play their role in supporting the campaign," she said after launching the TNB-WWF Malaysia Earth Hour 2013 awareness campaign here today.

Themed "I will if you will," the Earth Hour invites individuals, businesses, governments and communities to switch off their lights for one hour tomorrow (March 23) from 8.30pm to show their support for environmentally sustainable action.

"We are encouraging the public to plan their daily usage and try to do their house chores using electrical appliances during off-peak hours," Adelina added.

First electric vehicle in Malaysia - Mitsubishi i-MiEV on sale for RM136,118

Eagerly waiting for electric vehicles to be available in Malaysia?

Your wait is over. Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia has officially launched the Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle or simply called I-MiEV in the local market on March 21, 2013:

Name                 : Mitsubishi i-MiEV
Price                  : RM136,118 (without insurance), RM139,888 on the road
Weight              : 1,100kg
Battery              : Lithium-ion with 88cells
Charging time  : 8 hours via normal 240V household outlet
Cost to charge  : RM3.50 of electricity to charge 100%
Driving range   : 150km when fully charge
Top speed         : 130 km/h
Dimension        : 475 mm long and 1,475 mm wide
Features: 2-DIN touchscreen multimedia system with GPS, automatic climate control, auto headlights, electric power steering, leather steering wheel

(L-R) Yatabe, Ali, Oda and Larrieu, with two demonstration units of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV last year in Langkawi. The electric car is now available for booking. Photo: The Borneo Post

Mitsubishi i-MiEV can be charged from zero capacity to 100% in 8 hours via a normal 240-volt household outlet.

Although small, the interior actually looks neat and luxurious

Mitsubishi Motors aims to sell over 50 units of new electric vehicle by March 2014
NST, Mar 21,2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) aims to sell more than 50 units of its newly-launched electric vehicle, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle)by March 2014.

The i-MiEV is the first commercialised electric vehicle in Malaysia. Previously, national automaker Proton Holdings Bhd and local Nissan distributor, Edaran Tan Chong Motor, had introduced electric cars for the purpose of pilot testing. MMM Chief Executive Officer Tetsuya Oda said the i-MiEV has been in the global market for over four years, since its launch in Japan in 2009.

He was speaking to reporters after launching the electric car, which comes with a price tag of RM136,118 (without insurance), here today. Oda said to assist potential i-MiEV buyers, MMM is planning to invest more than RM1 million to open four more EV centers nationwide by the end of April next year.

He said the centers would be equipped with a free charging facility for the electric vehicle users.

"We expect to have 60 showrooms in another year, from the current 54, with 31 being 3S Centres and 42 service outlets," he added.

Oda said MMM is currently talking to the principal in Japan to manufacture the lithium-ion battery pack, used by the electric car, here. He said the decision is up to the principal, and it depends more on the sales volume.

"The lithium-ion battery takes up a significant portion of the cost of production of the electric car. If we can manufacture it locally, the price of the car can be brought down significantly," added Oda.

The i-MiEV comes with a free five-year maintenance and five-year warranty (for 100,000 kilometre) packages. With a top speed of 130 kilometre/hour, the four-seater vehicle can run up to 150 kilometres, after charging for eight hours.

TheGreenMechanics' Two cents:

I think the pricing is ridiculous. At about RM140,000 (on the road), not many people can actually afford the i-MiEV, and this is bad news for Electric Vehicles in general. If you're concerned about CO2 emission, you can start with hybrid cars which give you more range.

If you must hug the tree, you may want to hold your horses for a while bit and wait for the next generation Nissan Leaf (all-electric vehicle), due to be launched soon. The Leaf costs £28k in the UK (and who knows how much would that translate in Malaysian market) but it is a much better looking car than the i-MiEV.

Do you notice that the i-MiEV has some resemblance with the world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Low cost satellite services offered

In a nutshell, you launch a satellite at 1/4 of the current cost, or about US$10.5 million.

Malaysia was quoted as one of the countries interested in partnership deals that could see is host additional spaceports.

Malaysia's current MEASAT-3

Measat-3 is 4,765kg in mass while this low-cost launching services limit the weight of satellite to only 250kg. Measat-3 cost about US$230million, so a small discount offered by the Swiss launch services might make little difference.

But technology changes fast and the cost to build an equally capable but lighter, 250kg satellite could be so cheap that launching cost could represent big chunk in the cost pie. So it may highly be a viable option.

Swiss firm aims for low-cost satellite service
Mar 14, 2013
GENEVA: A new Swiss-based company said Thursday it would offer low-cost satellite launches which it claims could be a quarter of current market rates.

Swiss Space Systems-S3 said its goal was to offer launches for 10 million Swiss francs (8.1 million euros, $10.5 million) using unmanned suborbital spaceplanes that could carry satellites weighing up to 250 kilos (550 pounds).

"Our mission is to give access to space," the company said in a statement.

"Our aim is to democratise access to space by enabling emerging markets, countries, universities and research institutes to do what has not been possible for them up to know: deploy their own satellites," it added.

The company said it planned to open such a spaceport by 2015 at the Payerne airfield in western Switzerland, which has already been used by the Solar Pulse sun-powered aircraft of Swiss astronaut Bertrand Piccard.

Swiss Space Systems said that the plan's low-cost character was rooted in the reusable nature of the spaceplane and other launch facilities and that fuel-consumption would be far less than that of conventional systems.

Countries including Malaysia and Morocco have already expressed an interest in partnership deals that could see them host additional spaceports, it said.

Original article at The Economic Times

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 supports wireless charging

You are going to like this.

Although not really 'wireless' in the sense that it will not sap the juice while you're walking and holding it, Samsung's recently announced Galaxy S4 smartphone will support wireless charging - with the help of a pad.

Charging pad for the Galaxy S4 - wireless but not 'independent'

Wireless charging but Charging Pad not included in the package

There's some confusion over whether the Samsung Galaxy S4 supports wireless charging or not. The new flagship Android smartphone does support the feature but not out of the box.

It was rumoured that the Galaxy S4 would feature wireless charging but Samsung made no mention of it during the New York launch event last week. The rumour was not unfounded as the Galaxy S3 was supposed to support it but Samsung never actually released the accessories.

The catch is that the Galaxy S4 doesn't support wireless charging out of the box like such phones as the Google Nexus 4. However, a wireless charging cover and wireless charging pad will go on sale soon.

Qi has announced that its wireless charging standard will be supported by the Galaxy S4, according to a UK retailer, Clove. "In theory you should be able to use other Qi wireless charging accessories rather than Samsung's own ones, but we'll need to confirm that once we've received stock of the device." said the retailer.

Prices of the Galaxy S4, and the Charger Pad

There's no price or release date for the Samsung Galaxy S4 wireless charging cover or wireless charging pad.

The Galaxy S4 features a 5in Full HD screen, 8-core processor and a 13Mp camera. The flagship smartphone will be released on 26 April,2013 in the UK. Although pricing is still to be confirmed, one retailer has put a £529 (approx. RM2,495), matching the iPhone 5.

A retailer in Kota Kinabalu is confident that the S4 will be released in Malaysia late April.


China solar giant Suntech falls back to Earth

The last thing you want to hear from the solar photovoltaic industry is players going into bankruptcy.

Just a year ago, China's Suntech was the world's largest solar panel producer, but has plunged to a near bankruptcy, if what's reported is true.

Top 10 solar module producers in the world. Source: Renewable 12 Global Status Report

"What (Suntech) has done is increase supply to the market so much, that they really almost can't sell anything at a profit now. It is going to be difficult for them going forward. You might end up seeing a very different company down the road."
-- Ben Cavender, China Market Research Group in Shanghai.

Falling back to earth? Source: France24
Bleak day for Solar PV industry

China’s Suntech has made a painful journey from being the world’s largest solar panel producer to flirting with bankruptcy in just a year, highlighting the woes of the industry it shaped.

Oversupply as Chinese producers flooded the market and trade disputes over alleged Chinese dumping caused a sudden and spectacular reversal of fortunes for Suntech, which has defaulted on repayments for a $541 million bond issue.

The board ousted the company’s renowned founder just days ago after 12 years in which he led it from nothing to world market domination and now to the edge of ruin, leaving it scrambling to secure new funding and hold creditors at bay.

The global solar industry has been burned by the economic slowdown in Europe and the United States, together with weak prices blamed on Chinese companies which sought to build market share by under-cutting competitors.

a) Renewables 2012 Global Status Report
b) PVinsights
c) France24 Internation News

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Berlin Wall Memorial uprooted for condo project

Remember Atkinson Tower, the one sitting on the fringe of Kota Kinabalu city?

It's a colonial clock tower and is one of the very few structures that are still standing today. The British built quite a number of things of historical value but in the name of modernisation (or the lack of it?) they were replaced or simply torn down.

The Atkinson Tower, also called Atkinson Clock Tower almost made a date with extinction in 2011 when a developer tried to lure the authority to build a multi-storey mixed-commercial complex  there.

Berlin Wall Memorial

Flip to the other side of the globe; the story-line is not too far different. Historic building and monument seem to be similarly less appreciated. Berlin Wall Memorial is one of them.

The Berlin Wall was built in 1961. Photo: pinkbigmac-BERLIN

What is Berlin Wall?

It was supposed to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the West, a time during which East Germany was ruled by the SED, the ruling Communist Party.

Who built it?

Hardline East German leader Walter Ulbricht gave the order to build after winning backing from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

People died trying to escape through the wall?

Varying estimates. Berlin prosecutors say 169 people were killed between August 13, 1961, and November 9, 1989. A recent study found that 1,065 people were killed trying to flee East Germany across all Cold War borders

An estimated 5,000 people reached West Berlin. More than 75,000 people were imprisoned for trying to leave East Germany without permission

And the "Death Strip"?

A border strip between the inner and outer segments of the wall in East Berlin is called the “death strip” because so many people were killed there while trying to flee.

When did the Berlin Wall fall?

The Berlin Wall that the SED used to maintain its power fell in 1989 during the downfall of East Germany that year.

Protests stall Berlin Wall removal

Section of the memorial wall has already been uprooted. AP Photo
(BERLIN) — Berliners are protesting as a construction company removes a section of a historic stretch of the Berlin Wall known as the East Side Gallery to provide access to a riverside plot where luxury condominiums are being built.

An approximately 20-meter (22-yard) stretch of the 1.3 kilometer (3/4 mile) section of wall is being removed by crews Friday while demonstrators look on.

Since German reunification, the stretch of the wall has been preserved as a historical monument and transformed into an open air gallery painted with colorful murals, and has become a popular tourist attraction.

District chairman Franz Schulz tells Bild newspaper that the section of the wall is being removed to allow access to a new luxury apartment building planned for the banks of the Spree river.
Source - Yahoo News, Mar 1, 2013.

Source and references:
a) The Times
b) Reuters Factbox
c) Photo by pinkbigmac-BERLIN

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rooftop solar PV launched at SM St. Michael, Sabah

While 10 schools in Sabah celebrate their achievement of 100% passes in the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) this year, SM St Michael has a bonus reason to celebrate.

Greenery welcomes you as you approach St. Michael secondary school.

The school became the first in Sabah to have the solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed on its roof to reduce the school's electricity consumption. More importantly, this will pave the way for Malaysians to learn and appreciate the technology at early stage.

The installation of the 5.4kWp rooftop solar here was completed in January 2013, thanks to a worldwide project named dena Solar Roofs Programme, coordinated by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH, and co-financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

Brief information of the rooftop installation:

Installed capacity       : 5.4 kWp
Solar module              : 24 panels
Area of roof covered  : 41m2
Panel rating                : 225W
Inverter                       : 2 nos (to convert DC to AC supply)
Energy production     : 6,800 kWh annually. Approximately 567 kWh per month
Cost                             : €2,000 to €2,500 per kWp without battery (RM8,000 - RM10,000)

For educational purposes:
A display panel has been installed in the centre of the school to display the actual power in kW and the accumulated generated energy (in kWh) and CO2 savings over the entire period.

"The main goal is to support the cooperation between German and Malaysian experts in the field of photovoltaic and also sharing of knowledge about the systems under the specific conditions in Malaysia." 
           - Gabriele Eichner of the German Energy Agency.

The school became the programme's first recipient in Malaysia

Another school with solar PV installation is SK Pulau Sepanggar, located half an hour boat-ride from Kota Kinabalu. This is a full capacity installation which means the school gets all its power requirement from this installation alone. The school is not connected to the power grid due to its location.

It is a self initiative by the government to improve the quality of life of the local community as well as to provide a better learning environment for the school children.

SK Pulau Sepanggar hybrid system: The 25kWp solar PV is coupled with diesel generator set

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

While fully agreeing to the school selection, I am hoping that the "dena Solar Roofs Programme" will also look into the many underprivileged rural schools in the interior. They acknowledged that the programme is most suited for places such as those in the remote areas in East Malaysia.

Melbourne plans tallest building in southern hemisphere

Why do people build tall buildings?

For one, it is aimed at maximising the use of the area of land on which it stands. Huge buildings like modern skyscrapers can house a lot of people, almost like a little micro-city with vertical main streets in the form of stairs and elevators. I can understand that.

But what about this mine is bigger than yours contest that has been going on between countries and continents ever since who knows when? If you look at the top 10 tallest buildings, some of these stand on land where space is not an issue yet. But in cities cramped with millions of people, taller building probably is the better option.

Anyway, just to update, Australia is set to build the tallest building in the southern hemisphere that would involve A$600 million (approx. RM1.95 billion) in investment.

To compare, other notable tall buildings includes the followings:

  • Burj Khalifa (829 metres)              - world's tallest
  • Taipei 101 (509 m)                       - world's second tallest
  • Shanghai World Financial Center (492 m) - world's third tallest
  • Petronas Twin Towers (452 m)     - world's tallest twin buildings
  • Willis Tower (442 m)                    - world's tallest since 1970s until newer buildings were built
  • The Shard in London at (310 m)    - Europe's tallest
  • Q1 Tower, Queensland (323 m)    - Australia's tallest

An artist’s impression of the 108-storey ‘Australia 108’ building. AFP photo via Borneo Post

Tallest building in southern hemisphere approved
via Borneo Post - Mar 19, 2013

MELBOURNE: Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne could possibly have the tallest building in the southern hemisphere after approval yesterday for a new 388-metre apartment and hotel complex.

The Victorian state government said Australia 108 would become the world’s 19th tallest building on completion and would be “an outstanding addition to Melbourne’s skyline”.

“I am proud to approve a tower that will define our city for many years to come,” Planning Minister Matthew Guy said.

There were some concerns that the construction of the 108-storey tower in the city’s Southbank area, expected to be ready in five years, would cast a shadow over the Shrine of Remembrance war memorial, one of the city’s best-known landmarks.

But Guy said the trustees of the shrine did not object to the proposal which he said was a A$600 million investment in the state economy that would create 300 jobs in construction and hospitality.

Architect Nonda Katsalidis said the tall, slender building which will have 646 apartments, a 288-room six-star hotel plus retail and office space, was designed to throw a spotlight on the city’s international identity.

“We don’t have an Opera House (like Sydney) but we have AFPa complex culture and all those ideas were thrown into this project,” Katsalidis told ABC radio.

“The hotel at the top is designed as a starburst. We took the inspiration from the stars on the Australian flag,” he added.

The world’s tallest building is Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 828 metres high while Europe’s tallest skyscraper, the Shard in London, stands at 310 metres.

The current tallest residential building in the southern hemisphere is the Q1 tower on Queensland’s Gold Coast in Australia, which soars 323 metres to 71 storeys.

But Australia 108 could be trumped by South Africa’s Centurion Symbio City, a 447 metre tower to be built by 2018 near Pretoria.

Sabah needs to utilise Remote Sensing Technology

For aerial surveillance, remote sensing via satellite "is cheap because it saves time and costs".

That's what Datuk Darus Ahmad, Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency Director-General said back in March 2010 when his department organised an awareness seminar at Hyatt Regency hotel in Kota Kinabalu that year.

Satellite image of Kota Kinabalu. Want your house monitored this way? Darus Ahmad (left) presenting the picture to Dr. Yee. Photo - InsightSabah

I am sure it is 'very' cheap now looking at the circumstances Malaysians in Sabah are now facing. Large state like Sabah requires technology that is fast and effective for a wide range of fields such as agriculture, the environment, land develop­ment and security.

If it is available, use it!

In today's perspective, Sabah is facing security threat from intruders and surveillance using airplanes is not only expensive but tedious and limited in terms of availability. In the eastern seaboard, we are talking about 1,500km of coastline. Needless to say it is a huge area to cover and we certainly need to put in more assets, including better surveillance system.

For aerial surveillance, remote sensing could and should be one of the options.

We have this technology. Use it. With this method, one can take fast and accurate aerial photographs via satellite compared to traditional methods. Of course, aircraft need to make their patrolling, too. A roar in the sky scare the birds away, so they say.

Back then, Sabah Forestry Department was the only state department to fully utilise remote sensing technology to manage forest resources in Sabah. It is high time that other departments, too, make similar move.

If the technology can by used by the Forestry Department to monitor logging activities in the forests, it can also be used for monitoring the coastline round the clock.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sweden's bio-energy success story

This is a very interesting read.

While people still argue and many are prepared to debate long into Sweden's success in managing its forest resources for  bio-energy, other nations with good biomass resources can learn from Sweden's policies. Malaysia is still rich with forest resources and it doesn't do any harm at all to learn a thing or two from their success.

Today, forest residue is the leading bio-energy source in Sweden, and compared to 3 years ago, bio-energy is now the nation’s biggest energy source.

One of the bio-energy plants in Sweden. Photo: REW

Growth catalysts

The reasons for the Swedish bio-energy sector’s phenomenal growth include:

  • broad political support 
  • incentives such as the CO2 tax introduced in 1991
  • green electricity certificates introduced in 2003, 
  • tax exemptions for transport bio-fuels
  • Sweden's long-standing tradition of using its natural forest resources
  • good protection and development of forest resources

Contributing factors to biomass development:
  • the rising prices for imported oil, and 
  • the Sweden's debate over nuclear power.

Since late 1970s, Sweden has been seeking new and safe energy sources, evidenced with the initiation of national research into renewable energy. Heating plants had largely switched to biomass, which made up 70% of district heating fuel in 2010.

Biofuels: Swedish cars use high-blend bio-fuels such as E85, which can contain up to 85% ethanol, and biogas, and at the end of 2011 Sweden had more than 200,000 flexi-fuel cars on its roads.

Biomass: Biomass for heating accounts for more than 50% of all space heating in Sweden's housing and service sectors. It is no wonder that there are around 100,000 small-scale pellet heating systems operating in Sweden.

Note: The book that talks about the Swedish bio-energy success story (priced about $12.50) can be found at Svebio.

TheGreenMechanics: Swedish car buyers receive a rebate of SEK10,000 (US$1560 or approximately RM4,850) for buying a green car. We don't have similar cash incentive in Malaysia. But we can surely learn from their environmentally-friendly policies.

Longest word in the world (in any language)

Why not start your Monday by reading the world's longest word?

The other day we were at one of KPJ's hospital by chance and I chanced upon a pamphlet showing a long word - Oesophagogastroduodenoscopy. The A to Z alphabet has 26 letters in total.

27 letters in a word, long enough for you?

Oesophagogastroduodenoscopy or simply pronounced OGD is a clinical procedure to look into the esophagus, stomach and duodenum to find the cause of:

  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swallowing problem
  • Bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract
  • Inflammation, ulcers and tumors of the esophagus,

among others. I learnt something there.

27 is long but what about the longest one?

Google around further and you will find that the longest word in the English language is a 189,819-letter, chemical name of a protein known as titin.

Here is a video grab of a man trying to pronounce it loudly and according to the video clip, it took him more than 3 hours to complete the task.

Video source

The word is “Methionylthreonylthreonylglutaminylarginyl …. isoleucine”, but seriously, don't waste your time reading (or pronouncing) it. We are not even sure if it is a word.

You might also be interested in what are the other long words at wikipedia.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Result: Manchester United vs Reading (1 - 0)

After a disastrous defeat of Manchester City at Everton earlier today, Manchester United can take a huge step towards winning their 20th trophy of the English Premier League by beating managerless Reading.

If they can overcome Reading they'll have 15 points cushion at the top of the table with 9 games remaining.

Old Trafford, 16th March 2013. City said United will make mistake; we'll see about that.

It's interesting to note that M.City are very confident that they will catch United up and beat them at the end of the season just as they did last year. That's according to City defender, Gael Clichy.

Last season: City trailing United by 8 points with 8 games to play
This season: City trailing United by 12 points with 10 games left

Mathematically, the situation is similar but United surely won't allow a repeat of their failure to hold on to a healthy lead this time around.

First half result: MU ( 1 ) - ( 0 ) Reading

21st minute goal by Rooney set United on course. What a lovely run by Ferdinand who then set Rooney to fire home from outside the box.

Full Time result: MU ( 1 ) - ( 0 ) Reading

In the end, solitary goal by Wayne Rooney proved to be the difference. Not a fluent performance by United but a win is a win and they go 15 points clear at the top of the Barclays Table.

Watch out, "noisy neighbours"!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

All new Samsung Galaxy S4 - specifications & price.

The 4th generation Galaxy S is here and the market will again be spoilt for choice.

For official price in Malaysia, check out the article here.

U ready 4 the next galaxy?

The Galaxy S4 looks very similar in design to its predecessor, the Galaxy S3. With a 5" screen, matching the size of the Sony Xperia Z, it's big. But the traditional look remains with rounded corners, a physical home button and a removable rear cover.

The S4 size and design compared with its predecessors

It's really not fair to compare the all new Galaxy S4 with the iPhone 5 isn't it, but which new offering can you bring in from Apple's stable to pit against it?

Specifications: Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Apple iPhone 5

The Guardian argued that with the introduction of the S4 will pave the way for the Galaxy S phones to eclipse the iPhone. Make your own judgement but here is the sales of both phones since 2010:

Will the Galaxy outsell the iPhone this year?: Galaxy S series sales vs iPhone's

Official Samsung Galaxy S4 specs:

Processor   : 1.9GHz quad-core processor / 1.6GHz octa-core processor (depending on market)
OS                 : Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Display        : 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED (1920 x 1080) display, 441 ppi
RAM             : 2GB
Internal Storage: 16/ 32/ 64 GB User memory + microSD slot (up to 64GB)
Dimensions: 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9 mm, 130g
Battery: 2,600 mAh

Network: 2.5G (GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE): 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz;
 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps): 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 MHz;
 4G (LTE Cat 3 100/50Mbps)
Rear Camera: 13 Mega pixel Auto Focus camera with Flash & Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Front Camera: 2 Mega pixel camera, Full HD recording @30fps with Zero Shutter Lag, BIS
Video: Recording & Playback: Full HD (1080p)
Audio: Codec: MP3, AMR-NB/WB, AAC/AAC+/eAAC+, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AC-3, apt-X

Additional Features:
Group Play: Share Music, Share Picture, Share Document, Play Games, Story Album, S Translator,
Optical Reader, Samsung Smart Scroll, Samsung Smart Pause, Air Gesture, Air View, Samsung Hub,
ChatON (Voice/Video Call, Share screen, 3-way calling), Samsung WatchON, S Travel (Trip Advisor),
S Voice™ Drive, S Health Samsung Adapt Display, Samsung Adapt Sound
Auto adjust touch sensitivity (Glove friendly)
Safety Assistance, Samsung Link, Screen Mirroring
Samsung KNOX (B2B only)

Google Mobile Services: Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Latitude, Google Play Store, Google Plus, YouTube, Google Talk, Google Places, Google Navigation, Google Downloads, Voice Search

Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, GPS /GLONASS, NFC, Bluetooth® 4.0, IR LED (Remote Control), MHL 2.0
Sensors: Accelerometer, RGB light, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Gyro, Barometer, Temperature & Humidity, Gesture

Samsung Galaxy S4 Price

In the United States, media and journalists believe the S4 will be priced at $199 + contract, similar to the S3 when it was launched last year.

In the United Kingdom, it is expected to set you back £499, SIM-free (approx. RM2,348).

For Malaysian market, I can bet my money on a RM2,199 price tag (16GB variant). It has and will always be such priced.

Huge wind turbine snaps in Kyoto, Japan

While it's not extremely rare for such occurrence to happen, you could not help but think about the possibility of lack of maintenance here.

The more wind farms you open up, the higher the chances of failure to happen simply due to the number of wind turbines you erect. Even in Japan where nano-precision and high-technology are daily words and the maintenance mentality is respectable, you can hear that the Fukushima nuclear facilities could have been better maintained.

A windmill lies wrecked in the town of Ine. Photo by AFP/The Japan Times

Anyway, here's what was reported by The Japan Times:

Kyoto wind farm turbine falls after pylon snaps
Mar 16, 2013
A 38-ton wind turbine crashed 50 meters to the ground in Kyoto Prefecture after the steel column supporting it snapped, according to officials.

The massive Dutch-made turbine, which sat atop a Japanese-made steel column, was part of a mountain wind farm. It was put up in 2001 with an expected life of at least 17 years.

“We are asking experts to look into the cause of the problem. We suspect metal fatigue might have played a role,” a local government official said Thursday, adding no one was injured.

The smashed turbine was discovered Wednesday although it is not known when it fell at the remote facility. A strong windstorm struck wide areas of the nation around that time.

Wind farms have sprouted across large stretches of Japan over the last two decades as the resource-poor country seeks to capitalize on its natural bounty.

The drive for alternative energy has intensified since the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster started two years ago.

Only two of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors are in operation and public opposition against restarting reactors remains strong.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

India exceeds Renewal Energy targets

The world’s second-most populous country is making the right move in ensuring sustainability of its energy resources, and what better way than by exceeding the targets for Renewables!

As of June 2012 , green power capacity in India is 25 GW:

Wind                  : 17,644 MW
Small Hydro        : 3,411 MW
Biomass             : 1,182 MW
Solar PV            : 1,030 MW
Waste to Power  : 93 MW (urban areas)
TOTAL : 25.4 GW

and by Feb 2013, according to Renewablefacts, total energy generated from renewables is 26.9 GW.

Wind farm in Satara, India. Photo: SUZLON

As reported by Renewable Facts:

During the last 3 years (2009 - 2012), India added 10,431 MW of new renewable energy capacity to its energy mix, against a target of 9,623 megawatts.

India is seeking to generate some 41 gigawatts of power from renewable sources by 2017 (excluding large hydro).

Wind power accounted for the biggest increase, at 8.3 gigawatts, followed by 1.8 gigawatts of biomass, 1.2 gigawatts of solar and 1.1 gigawatt of hydropower.

The current installed capacity of power generation from renewable energy in the country is 26,920 MW. During 2012-13, a capacity addition of 2,005.57 MW has been achieved up to 31.01.2013 against the target of 4,125 MW.

Tamil Nadu is the State with the most renewable capacity at 3,113 MW, followed by Gujarat 2,389 MW, Rajasthan 1,930 MW, Maharastra 1,699 MW, Karnataka 1,394 MW and Andhra Pradesh 408 MW.

India has a comprehensive strategic plan for the development of renewable energy schemes through to 2017 with a view to growing grid-interactive, off-grid, rural and industrial renewable power from a mix of wind, biomass, small hydro and solar power.

TheGreenMechanics' take: Despite the major blackout in India that affected more than 600 million in July 2012, India's RE initiative is still very much an inspiration.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pakatan offers to top civil service pay and perks announced by PM

Quote this:
“The PAS central committee met and has taken the stand that any announcement made by
 the prime minister will be continued when Pakatan Rakyat runs Putrajaya.”
  - PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa.

Now that the Prime Minister have announced the annual increment to be paid in July 1, and including PDRM and ATM salary scale being raised to be on par with that of the civil service, it is now Pakatan Rakyat's turn to up the wooing game. It was also mentioned that PR will match and improve on any promise by the PM.

While competition is good for consumers (and in this case, the people), pledges and promises must be achievable and fulfilled, otherwise they are nothing more than coffee-shop talks.

I have appended herewith part of what was reported in the Malaysian Insider:-

Datuk Husam Musa. Photo by themalaysianinsider

Pakatan offers to top civil service pay, perks promised by Prime Minister

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — In an unprecedented move, PAS has moved to pre-empt a last minute campaign by Datuk Seri Najib Razak to woo civil servants by saying that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would match and improve on any promise by the prime minister to raise salaries and allowances.

Najib is expected to announce several initiatives including a pay rise of up to 10 per cent, improved costs of living allowances and housing allowances for the 1.5 million-strong civil service today.

“The PAS central committee met and has taken the stand that any announcement made by the prime minister will be continued when Pakatan Rakyat runs Putrajaya,” PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa (picture) said in a statement carried by the party’s Harakah Daily Online.

He gave three initiatives to be carried out by PR, with the first one to improve on the goodies for the civil service, including promotion for all civil servants, including teachers, Customs officers, police, military and others.

“We will also follow what is done in Kelantan where all housing and vehicle loans for civil servants will not be charged any more with the current four per cent interest rate from the moment PR takes over Putrajaya,” Husam said, adding that there will be a review of existing loans to ensure the government can absorb the financial implications.

The third initiative was to review and increase the tax allowances for civil servants and Malaysians who salaries are low, he added.

Husam noted the low tax allowances for those with wives and children have prevented civil servants and the public to have enough income in the face of high living costs.

Both coalitions are out to court the civil servants, who form a key demographic among the 13.3 million voters who are eligible to cast their ballots in this year’s general election.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

Monday, March 11, 2013

Civil servants to get one annual increment on July 1, 2013

In summary, civil servants get to enjoy:

Annual increment      : Will be paid early, 1st July 2013
People affected         : All 1.4mil civil servants
Increment quantum  : RM80 to RM320 (equivalent to 1 year annual increment)
Total expenditure     : RM1.5 billion
Officers whose salaries have reached ceiling  : To enjoy similar benefits, through special mechanism
Officers affected by this mechanism               : 182,434

Also, salary scale of police (PDRM) and armed forces (ATM) personnel has been raised to be on par with that of the civil service.

PM Datuk Najib Razak addressing the civil servants at the gathering in Putrajaya.

As reported by The Star:

PUTRAJAYA: All civil servants will receive a salary movement benefit of one annual increment, to be paid out on July 1 this year.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who made the announcement, said this would mean every civil servant would receive between RM80 and RM320.

"This measure will involve an expenditure of RM1.5bil," he said at the "Transforming the Civil Service, Realising Vision 2020" gathering here.

The prime minister also said that effective Jan 1 this year, three additional annual increments would be provided after the maximum salary on the salary schedules.

This will benefit some 180,000 civil servants. According to Bernama, the initiatives were part of the New Remuneration System, which would now be known as the Transformative Remuneration System (SST).

Najib said that in the event there was no salary adjustment or review to ensure that civil servants remained productive and performed well, the government agreed to give a special salary movement of three per cent to those on the maximum salary, provided they met the conditions of the stipulated annual salary movement and performance.

The prime minister also had good news for the almost 50,000 contract officers whose service would end on Dec 31 this year. He said their service would be extended by another year pending an overall study. -- TheStar Online

Malaysia going the Bio-oil way

During the Palm and Lauric Oils Conference and Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur last week, an exhibitor told that bio-oil, which is derived from biomass, it is a cheaper alternative to depleting fossil fuels. Compared to fuel oil, currently priced at around US$750 (RM2,325) per tonne, bio-oil can be be sold for US$375 (RM1,170) per tonne.

What is bio-oil

Bio-oil is a renewable diesel fuel converted from biomass through process called fast or flash pyrolysis. The fast pyrolysis occurs by heating compact solid fuels in the absence of air (oxygen) at temperatures between 350°C and 550°C for a very short period of time (less than 2 seconds) and then condensing the resulting vapors within 2 seconds.

The flash pyrolysis process to produce bio-oil *

Lipochem's bio-oil pilot plant *

Note: *Images from Lipochem's presentation handout.

Big potential for domestic use and export of bio-oil

Malaysia's ambition to produce and use more second-generation biofuel is fast picking up as process engineers embark on converting biomass to liquid fuel via fast pyrolysis.

“Second-generation biofuel, like bio-oil, is more environmentally friendly than biodiesel or bio-ethanol. This is because bio-oil is derived from biomass and this circumvents the food versus fuel dilemma,” said Lipochem Sdn Bhd managing director Koh Pak Meng.

Second-generation biofuels are a realistic alternative to the costlier fossil fuels. This is because bio-oil can be used to heat up water to produce steam to push turbines that generate electricity. This is a valuable means of replacing depleting fossil fuels like petroleum, coal and natural gas.

One can turn a wide range of biomass, for example agricultural waste like oil palm waste, into stable, concentrated bio-crude. This is then refined into bio-oil to replace fuel oil burnt in boilers.

Unlike the current burning of empty fruit bunches in oil mill boilers, Koh said bio-oil plants adopt the fast pyrolysis process, where biomass is heated rapidly to temperatures between 300° Celsius and 550°C at high pressure without any oxygen.

The gases released by the burnt biomass enter a quench tower, where they are quickly cooled and recycled back to the reactor as fuel.

“Bio-oil plants are the way forward as ithey are far more energy efficient and make the industry more carbon neutral,” he told Business Times at the sidelines of the Palm and Lauric Oils Conference and Exhibition, here, yesterday.

Currently, Lipochem’s demo plant in Klang is able to process fiveonnes of dry biomass a day. Koh said this plant, when scaled up 20 times to a commercial size of 100 tonnes a day, will cost around RM30 million.

“The return on investment for a typical 100-tonne-a-day bio-oil plant is around three years. It is a worthwhile investment.”

Koh said bio-oil has many of the advantages of petroleum fuels since it can be stored, pumped and transported. It is currently being combusted directly in boilers, gas turbines, and slow and medium speed diesels for steam and power plants.

“Fuel oil is priced at around US$750 (RM2,325) per tonne while bio-oil can be sold for US$375 per tonne. The price difference itself poses big potential for domestic use of bio-oil as well as for the export market.”

via: Business Times