Saturday, November 30, 2013

LED smartbulb helps regulate circadian rhythm

LED lighting is not just about energy saving, or as greener alternative to incandescent light bulb. There is more to it - LED bulbs can be tailored into smart bulbs that 'nourishes' your circadian rhythm.

If you have trouble falling asleep or wake up groggy, you can now purchase a light-emitting diode (LED) smartbulb that reportedly can be programmed to tweak your circadian rhythms throughout the day.

The Smart Bulb Halcyon system. Photo - Halcyon

First, what's circadian rhythm

A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. In a strict sense, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, although they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature.

Circadian rhythms are important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human beings.

How can LED smartbulb help

Circadian disruptions, and the anxiety, insomnia and fatigue that they can cause, can decidedly be linked to the modern era, with people working late into the evenings in offices dominated by artificial light or looking at computer screens before bedtime, which research has found can leave people in an almost permanent state of jet lag.

British LED lighting company PhotonStar Technology Ltd. has announced its new consumer Smart Bulb system Halcyon, to be available to the general market in early 2014 but with a small pre-production run to go to Kickstarter backers. Early adopters can purchase three lightbulbs for £94 (about US$150), with delivery expected in April.

That's approximately RM496 at the current exchange rate.

An obvious contender against the Philips Hue sold in Apple stores and the upcoming LIFX Wi-Fi enabled, multi-color LED light bulb, the new Halcyon system is focused more on a multi-user solution for the whole home and family than its rivals, the company says.

The company claims that Halcyon is also the first smart lighting system to provide automatic circadian lighting, similar to the system commissioned by NASA to improve health and well-being by simulating changes in natural light, and preventing jet lag type effects.

How do you use it

To use, set your system to help you wake up in the morning with bright alertness-boosting light. "Design and select a scene to cook, whilst your partner takes a relaxing bath," the website says. "As your guests arrive, change the mood to something more relaxing."

"Any light that you turn on will be at the correct color and spectrum for the time of day, mimicking daylight, nourishing your circadian rhythm," the company says.

Source: TheBorneoPost's Nature & Health section, November 30, 2013, pp.21

Friday, November 29, 2013

Malaysia to raise Electricity Tariff by 10% - 20% in 2014

This is what was announced in a very general manner by the Minister, to which it would normally be construed as tariff hike by TNB alone. But I have reason to believe that Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) will also be affected the same way.

Don't ask me why and how I came to such conjecture, but let's just speculate that if it happen, it will most likely be by similar quantum to the one in July 2011, which is 15%. Do you feel your business is hurt already?

But...if you think about the bigger picture, electricity tariff revision is actually inevitable as we move forward towards industry competitiveness, and that can be achieved by reducing subsidies, but let's do it in gradual manner and not making this a yearly affair.

"Anything below 20% is reasonable." - Datuk Dr. Maximus Ongkili

Electricity tariffs to go up next year
(The Star, November 28, 2013)

Consumers should brace themselves for a 10%-20% hike in electricity tariffs next year.

“The quantum (of increase) is not finalised … but anything below 20% is reasonable,” said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

The final decision on the increase has yet to be made by the Cabinet, but the hike could happen anytime in 2014, he told reporters on the sidelines of a Parliament session yesterday.

The move, he said, would be in line with the Government’s plan to gradually cut subsidies.

It would also be in line with its efforts to boost efficiency and competitiveness in the Malaysian power industry, as well as to ensure sufficient returns to capital for utility company Tenaga Nasional Bhd to cover its costs.

A tariff hike will see rates for both industrial and households increase, but any hike for businesses will be mitigated against the need for them to remain competitive. A home appliance that is rated at 1,000 watts, if left switched on for one hour, would use 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity.

A 10%-20% hike would translate into an increase of 3.35 sen/6.7 sen per kWh to 36.85 sen/40.2 sen per kWh. This is based on the prevailing tariff rate of 33.5 sen per kWh, which is about 8.5 sen below the “true cost” of power at 42 sen per kWh.

In comparison, electricity tariffs in the Philippines and Thailand are 58 sen per kWh and 48 sen per kWh respectively.

Ongkili said the Government would implement a “stabilisation” programme to protect consumers, especially the low-income group, when the tariff hike takes effect. Details of the programme have yet to be finalised.

The electricity tariff was last revised in June 2011 after the Government raised the subsidised gas price for the power sector to RM13.70 per million metric British thermal unit (mmbtu) from RM10.70 per mmbtu.

Gas accounts for about 50% of electricity generation in peninsular Malaysia. Coal accounts for 40%, hydropower about 8% and renewable sources around 2%.

Subsidies for the power sector are RM8bil to RM12bil per year, depending on the prevailing price of gas. The Government’s share is RM150mil and the rest is borne by Malaysian oil and gas company Petroliam Nasional Bhd.

TheGreenMechanics: They say it's done in the name of efficiency & competitiveness. Let's see if we can achieve this.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FiT attracts RM4.3billion investment from private sector

Malaysia claimed that it is one of the earliest nations among the ASEAN regional grouping to implement FiT mechanism to promote renewable energy. To date, this has attracted around RM4.3 billion in investment from the private sector.

RE sources in Malaysia that fall under FiT mechanism: Solar PV, Small Hydro, Biogas & Biomass

Pretty good start but we are definitely not in the front rows. I reckon Thailand and Singapore would occupy the first two slots in terms of aggressiveness in implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency, with or without FiT.

The news piece below (quoting Bernama) is a bit confusing as it mentioned "to promote and increase non-renewable energy to about 2,000 MW (2 GW) by 2020".

I think it should read "renewable" and not "non-renewable". Non-renewable sources refers to fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas, etc) and at present we are already generating more than 15 GW of energy from non-renewable sources.

What we are targeting for in 2020 is to generate 2,000 MW of renewable energy.

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For your reading pleasure....

531MW Non-renewable Energy Under FIT Offered
Bernama, November 22, 2013

PUTRAJAYA -- The Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry has offered 531 Megawatt (MW) electricity to the renewable energy sector under the Feed-In Tariff (FiT) incentive mechanism until the first half of next year.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the implementation of the FiT mechanism for the renewable energy sector has attracted investments totalling RM4.3 billion from the private sector.

The investments are estimated to provide 11,700 new job opportunities, he said at the ministry's 2013 Industry Award presentation.

Ongkili said Malaysia was among the earliest nation in the 10-member Asean regional grouping to implement the FiT mechanism to promote and increase non-renewable energy to about 2,000MW by 2020.

The minister also said his ministry was taking measures to improve the FiT mechanism besides exploring other mechanisms to increase non-renerwable energy in the country. Ongkili also said Malaysia, among the first country to implement the electric vehicle programme in 2009, has established 20 electric vehicle charging stations in Greater KL and in Melaka.

"Tests on electric buses are progressing smoothly. It is hoped that the target to have 2,000 electric buses by 2020 will be realised.

"We've to pursue the electric vehicle programme rigorously like what other countries are doing. They've implemented the programme seriously.

"For instance, millions of electric vehicles will be on the road in the United States by 2025," he added.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

HTC One Max launched in Malaysia, retailed at RM2,499

HTC South Asia senior executives with SKWong (2nd right) Country Manager of HTC Malaysia at the launch. Photo - Computerworld Malaysia

HTC Malaysia has launched HTC One Max, a supersized version of its flagship smartphone that includes a new fingerprint scan feature, which delivers an enhanced smartphone experience, said the Taiwan-headquartered mobile devices manufacturer.

HTC phones are regarded as expensive alternative to Samsung's and the build quality is said to better with good luxury feel, although I've never bought one for myself to have the kind of experience.

HTC claimed that the upgrade to HTC Sense 5.5 (that's HTC's Android skin to you and me) will provide our most amazing mobile experience yet, with the HTC One max delivering the size and power required to do "everything you want, and more, without compromise."

HTC One Max specifications

Display           : 5.9" full HD1080p
Processor       : Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
CPU speed     : 1.7 GHz
Memory         : 16GB or 32GB (news has it that the 32GB version may not be offered here)
Card slot        : micro SD
Battery           : 3300 mAh
Android skin  : HTC Sense 5.5
Price              : RM2,499 (expected retail price)

Additional 50GB of additional free Google Drive online storage is offered to HTC One max owners.

The built-in fingerprint scan feature, which is located on the back of the device, allows users to lock and unlock the screen and launch up to three favourite applications by assigning an individual finger to each, he said.

The HTC One max is available in Malaysia at all HTC retailers and selected mobile operators.

TheGreenMechanics: This is a phablet capable of giving Samsung Galaxy Note 3 a run for its money. The race for larger smartphone (or rather phablet) screen size isn't going to stop anytime soon, it seems. But I'll stick to my trusty old 4" screen phone for now, and maybe save a little bit of money.

I tend to agree with the recent research finding that bigger phones mean bigger bills.

Source: Computerworld Malaysia

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mitsubishi Motors cuts Japan electric car price by up to US$9,100(RM29,200)

This is something for Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia and the policy makers to think about.

In Japan, the electric car, i-MiEV is now selling at (after price cut and government subsidy):
  • Top range   - ¥2.0 million (about RM63,400)
  • Entry level  - ¥1.7 million (about RM53,900)

Mitsubishi's all-electric car, the i-MiEV is selling at RM139,888 (on the road) in Malaysia.

Acceptance is slower than expected

Mitsubishi Motors Corp has slashed the price of its i-MiEV electric minicar in Japan by up to US$9,100 aiming to boost sluggish sales as makers of electric vehicles face slower-than-expected acceptance of the technology.

Japan's sixth-biggest carmaker, which started selling the i-MiEV in 2009, said it was dropping the price of its top of the range i-MiEV by around 25%, or 900,000 yen (RM29,200 at current exchange rate), to ¥2.9 million.

With government subsidies, the model can be bought in Japan for around ¥2 million.

Mitsubishi Motors also cut the price of the entry level i-MiEV by 190,000 yen to ¥2.5 million, which with subsidies can be bought for about ¥1.7 million.

TheGreenMechanics: If we want to encourage the adoption of energy efficient and electric vehicles in this country, we really need to relook at the relevant policies and make such vehicles affordable to many.

Full article at The Malay Mail

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hydro power station in Tenom to be upgraded from 66 MW to 75 MW

The Borneo Post reported Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) managing director Ir Haji Abdul Razak Sallim as saying that the Pangi hydropower plant in Tenom is currently undergoing upgrading works to boost the existing power generation capacity of 66 MW to 75 MW.

For a total amount of RM57million for the upgrading project, an additional 9 MW is not that much but should be good for the foreseeable future.

Ir. Hj Abdul Razak (third left) in the control room.

The 3 turbines that will be upgraded from 22MW to 25MW each.

Upgrading works which would take longer time as temporary closure of turbine engine needs to be done on a rotational basis, is as follows:

Commenced        : February 28, 2011
Completion          : December 2015
Status                  : 47% (as at Nov 2013)
Current capacity  : 22 MW x 3 (Total 66MW)
After upgrade      : 25 MW x 3 (Total 75 MW)
Cost                     : RM57 million ($17.74 million)

The upgrading works includes three components, namely:

  • Increase generation capacity to 25MW each
  • Replacement of the control system to a better technology for faster operational response
  • Upgrading of the cooling system

The upgrading project is among those announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak when tabling the Budget 2014.

The Pangi power station is being upgraded because it is the only hyrdo power station in Sabah which is still in operation since 30 years ago and it is time that the station system is upgraded to support the generation of electricity to consumers in the state.

Source: The Borneo Post, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013
Photos are property of The Borneo Post.

You knew it! Bigger phones mean bigger bills

On average I use 4.5GB to 5GB of mobile data every month and I'm using a 4-inch iPhone smartphone.

For the guys who own phones with screen size of 4.5-inch and above, you are one of those using more data than I do - 7.2GB in average according to study. What this means is that you pay more bills as your phone screen goes up.

Research has shown that users of phones with bigger displays tend to consume more data. - AFPRelaxnews photo via The Star

Study by NPD Group in the US market and shows that owners of smartphones with screens that measure 4.5" upwards consume 44% more WiFi and cellular data each month - some 7.2GB in total - compared with the 5GB that owners of smaller smartphones average.

Bigger sized phones are getting more popular - in November 2012, only 11% of phones on the market boasted a 4.5" or greater display, but now 28% of current devices on sale fall into that category.

And who else's been driving this trend if not the Android fraternity!

The Samsung Galaxy S3, which was the flagship phone of 2012 was notable for its 4.5" screen and its popularity opened the doors to other manufacturers, such as Sony and LG. As a result, a 5" high resolution display has quickly become the standard for any handset that wants to claim flagship status.

It is not surprising then that the 2013 Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 5" HD display and the flagship phablet, the Galaxy Note 3 is 5.5" in screen size.

What are these bigger phones being used for?

NPD Group says they are predominantly for:
  • social media
  • navigation, such asGoogle Maps
  • music and video
  • use of the Pandora Radio app

TheGreenMechanics: I'm a bit disappointed that my current iPhone 5S is only 4" in screen size but as a consolation, I now have 2 reasons to be elated - I can hold and use the phone with a single hand, and I'd unlikely be consuming more data (and higher bills) than my mates with Galaxy S4 or Note 3 in their hands!

The study was conducted in the US, but it can just be as indicative and as relevant here in Malaysia.

Source: The Star Tech-News

Greenhouse PV Demonstration Project launched in Fukushima farmland

The "Greenhouse PV Demonstration Project" in Fukushima is a project to test how much impact the shading caused by the solar panels affects the growth of the fruit and vegetables inside the greenhouse.

Demonstration project on agricultural greenhouse solar PV. Photo: solar-frontier

Solar Frontier tests solar greenhouse

Fukushima, the name synonymous with 2011's Japanese tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident,  is an area of Japan that has been treated with so much care since the disaster two years ago.

It is no surprise then that the Japanese government is much effort in providing power supply from other sources. So, as part of the economic recovery efforts, solar panels have been fitted to an agricultural greenhouse for a demonstration project in Minamisoma, Fukushima.

The project, by companies including Japanese panel maker Solar Frontier and German EPC Belectric, in cooperation with the local prefectural government of Fukushima, sees installation of 324 Solar Frontier panels with 50kW total rated capacity covering 1,300m² of roof space on an agricultural greenhouse.

The results of the project are due to be reported in January, 2014, to determine impacts of shadows from solar panels on high value greenhouse products.

TheGreenMechanics: Would be good to test this solar PV shading on our paddy field and see if there is much impact on the amount of rice produced as a result. At the same time, free electricity from the farm. Sounds good, eh?

Source: Solar Frontier website

Friday, November 22, 2013

1 MW solar PV installed on Verona’s Bentegodi football stadium

Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi stadium in Verona, Italy, is the home of both Chievo Verona and Hellas Verona football teams of Serie A and Serie B respectively.

Impressive! Over 13,300 photovoltaic solar panels are installed on its roof. Photo - Knowledge Allianz

What's interesting is that the dome of Verona’s Bentegodi stadium has now become the largest photovoltaic sports complex roof in Italy. PV solar panels with a total installed capacity of 1MW help reducing annual C02 emissions by more than 550 tons.

Commissioned at the end of November 2009, there are a total of 13,321 thin-film cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar modules on the rooftop, mounted on aluminum mounting system. It uses 141 SMC 7000HV inverters to 'collect' power.

Do we have a case here?

Bukit Jalil Stadium is among the Top-10 largest football stadium in the world. Top spot used to be Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, although it had been reduced significantly after redesigned.

100,000 capacity Bukit Jalil National Stadium is bigger than Manchester United's Old Trafford.
Photo - funonthenet

Likas Stadium, Kota Kinabalu. Photo - Skyscrapper

This is something to think about for the 100,000-seat capacity Bukit Jalil Stadium, or the 35,000 capacity Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu. By comparison, Verona's Bentegodi stadium capacity is 38,400 - not too far different from our humble Likas Stadium.

We are not asking that our stadiums be covered or shaded with solar panel; it's just an idea. It's good for space saving and at the same time provide clean power for the sport complex.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Low head run-of-the-river hydro generator

I read that one can generate electricity from flowing river without damming the area and destroying the ecosystem within the hydropower plant. You just need a little bit of head to turn the turbine.

There is a power generator system called run-of-the-river hydropower that researchers and investors found to have emerged as a viable, and is a low-impact alternative to existing large-scale projects.

Low head run-of-the-river and flow-with-the-water system: What are they?

Run-of-the-river facilities use conventional hydropower technology to produce electricity but in this method, the river flow is diverted through turbines that spin generators, then water is returned back to the river downstream.

Perhaps, for R&D purpose, you can also look at flow-with-the-water system where you just put the turbine or water wheel along the rapid or specifically constructed weir to create small head. An example is what I have here:

A 3 m to 4 m head created by the weir. Picture was taken during rainy season when the river swelled. In a worse but rare flood condition, the water channel on the foreground become completely submerged.

In this case, you can perhaps put water wheels or a series of helical wheels across the weir. Or, install several Gorlov helical turbines along the water channel. You can read about Gorlov helical turbine (GHT) here.

Wider view of the water intake, located near one of the government water treatment plants along Tuaran River. This was shot during dry season.

This obviously falls under the jurisdiction of the several government agencies such as Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Department of Water Supply, and Tuaran/Tamparuli Municipal Council. But it is pretty interesting to see if one can find a way to tap energy from the flowing water.

To certain extent, I would be able to tag along and help anyone interested to study the potential of this river. If you are equipment supplier, system integrator, or project consultant with some spare time, or you are someone on the look out for new things, you may want to have a look at this.

Interested? Then pay this site a visit.

Honda introduces the MC-beta, a two-seater tiny electric car

Jumping on the bandwagon of tiny electric vehicles, Honda has unveiled its very own miniature car called the MC-β, pronounced MC-beta. Other recent small EVs were the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the SmartCar ForTwo.

This certainly is meant for eco-friendly short trips around the city.

It looks to be a refinement of the company's line of micro commuters and is designed to comply with the "micro-sized mobility products" category that's currently the trend in Japan and Europe.

The MC-beta is built on top of a lightweight yet rigid frame and only measures 2,495mm x 1,280mm x 1,545mm, which is about 90cm shorter than the typical mini car.

To compare, the locally produced mini car, the Perodua Kancil measures 3,395mm in overall length, 900 mm longer than the MC-beta.

The release states it has a 3.3 meter minimum turning radius, a maximum range of 80km or so when fully charged, and speeds of more than 70 km/h. As for charging time, the teensy quadricycle takes less than 7 hours to get fully juiced with a 100V outlet and less than 3 hours when plugged to a 200V socket.

Field tests will begin in Japan this month, so we wouldn't expect this in showrooms any time soon. Sure, you won't have room for too much luggage, but at least the MC-beta won't have to resort to funky folding techniques to park in a tight spot.

How much?

No indication yet but netizens are already debating and arguing that, anything more than $20,000 (RM63,600) is prohibitively expensive. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV starts at $21,625 in the US, but it sells for RM136,000 (approx. $42,760) in Malaysia.

For now, let's treat this news piece as "FYI only".

Source: Engadget

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ontario opens application window for small solar PV FiT projects

To benchmark, Malaysia's FiT rates for small solar PV (2013) are:

  • up to 4kW        - RM1.1316/kWh  (US$0.36/kWh)
  • 4kW to 24kW   - RM1.040/kWh    (US$0.33/kWh)
  • 24kW to 72kW - RM0.9440/kWh  (US$0.30/kWh)
  • 72kW to 1MW  - RM0.9120/kWh  (US$0.29/kWh)

In the province of Ontario in Canada, small FiT projects (rooftop) attract the following rates:

  • Between 10 kW and 100 kW     - CAD$0.345/kWh (US$0.33/kWh)
  • Above 100 kW & below 500 kW - CAD$0.329/kWh (US$0.314/kWh)

For micro sized installations we seem to have better rates, which shows the government's commitment to get more individuals and home owners to participate in the clean energy generation. But, available quota and allocation seem to show otherwise. We have very limited quota for small sized installation in Malaysia.

Fort William First Nation 10.8MW solar farm in Thunder Bay, Ontario, is one of the biggest PV plants in Canada. Photo - Skypower

Great window of opportunity for Ontario

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has opened the application window for 'small FIT projects' – defined as projects above 10 kW and, generally, below 500 kW, in capacity.

The OPA will award FIT payment contracts for up to 123.5 MW of small projects as it has a stated 70 MW procurement target for 2013 and has 53.5 MW of outstanding capacity left over from the previous small project application window.

The deadline for applications is on December 13 and, according to the price schedule published by the OPA in August, rooftop projects between 10 kW and 100 kW in size will qualify for a FIT rate of CAD$0.345/kWh (US$0.33/kWh) and those above 100 kW in capacity will earn CAD$0.329/kWh. Non-rooftop small projects will earn CAD$0.288/kWh.

The OPA is also accepting applications for its unconstructed rooftop solar pilot program, for systems on houses yet to be constructed, and has 15 MW of capacity available separately for this scheme.

The announcement of the opening of the small FIT project application window by the OPA goes on to add the preparation of procurement arrangements for PV projects larger than 500 kW in size 'is currently ongoing' and will be announced in due course.

TheGreenMechanics' two cents

What Ontario is doing is actually very interesting. They open up FiT quota for a period of time according to prevailing situation and requirements. This way, they make the offer very attractive during the window so that individuals and corporations who are 'ready' can grab the opportunity and quickly put the projects to work.

Next window could be totally different - in a good way or otherwise - depending on our state of readiness. I'm sure, the guys at SEDA Malaysia are keeping abreast with changes and development in other countries.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Explore new energy sources said CM

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has been urged  to explore new energy sources and applications to strengthen its electricity generating capacity.

Chief Minister Musa said this in reference to renewables during the recent Sustainable Energy Convention 2013 held at 1Borneo Hypermall last week.

Government commitment on CO2 emission reduction and Renewable Energy

It was vital for the State’s sole electricity provider to find a cheaper and more sustainable approach in keeping up with the growing power demand, given the increasingly high cost of operating using conventional fossil fuel.

At present, the electricity generating capacity for Sabah and Labuan stands at 1,000 MW, compared to peak demand of up to 874 MW. Out of this, 111 MW was from renewable sources, such as mini hydro and biomass.

Government's commitment to assist

Ideas, planning and suggestions are to be discussed by the power company, related government-linked agencies and the State Government to ensure smooth and speedy implementation.

The governments, both at the state and federal level, would be committed in supporting the power company in their effort to improve their services and ensure power security for the State.

“The State Government realises that the operation cost for providing electricity is huge. Apart from expensive equipment and maintenance, SESB and independent power plants have to deal with high and unstable prices of fuel. We are prepared to give cooperation and support to ensure  improvements could be implemented successfully."
- Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman, Sabah Chief Minister.

TheGreenMechanics: Quality of services provided had seen improvement with a notable reduction in power disruption in recent years, but it had yet to meet the expectation of consumers in Sabah.

I have personally encountered difficulties in applying for shutdowns to facilitate connection works to the utility's grid, most probably due to their attempt to reduce SAIDI. At the least, I can say this is unfair.

On the sort of support the state government is giving to the Renewable Energy initiative here, it is understood that it is looking at ways to contribute to SEDA fund in lieu of the consumers.

Germany launched €16 million organic PV R&D project

Germany is seen as the world leader in promoting and implementing renewable energies and in particular solar PV. It seems that with the new organic PV R&D initiative, it continues to be the leader in this particular industry.

This latest push for organic photovoltaics could be just what the industry needs. Image - PV-Mag

Organic photovoltaic R&D project

Germany’s BMBF has backed a Merck-led research and development inititiave in OPV technology to the tune of €8.2 million.

Labeled the POPUP project, Merck – a German pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company – will spearhead the consortium, which consists of ten technology leaders, each possessing various expertise in the field of OPV.

With BMBF’s financial backing, the total budget of this three-year project is €16 million (around RM68 million), and its objective is to develop more efficient and stable OPV materials for use in the solar power industry. The POPUP project will also look to develop more adaptable and flexible device material capable of supporting rigid, opaque and semi-transparent modules.

In the longer term, it is hoped that this research into OPV can help lower costs, allowing for mass adoption of the technology, and perhaps even integration into next-gen automobiles in order to supply clean and consistent power to onboard electronic systems.

The technology’s inherent aesthetic value also makes it a desirable option for architects keen on creating solar-powered glass facades. The new technologies can also be used to charge mobile devices and even be fitted for off-grid applications.

Merck’s role, according to an official press statement, will be to coordinate the research of the ten partners, while also performing the "development and synthesis of the cutting-edge materials as well as the chemical-physical characterization and evaluation in simple device structures."

Source: pv-magazine

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Chief Minister tables RM4.622 billion 2014 Budget, biggest in history

Musa Aman tabling the 2014 Sabah Budget at the State Assembly Friday afternoon. BI photo.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman yesterday tabled a deficit 2014 State Budget of RM4.622 billion, which is RM534 million more than the estimated provision in 2013, discribing it as the ‘best gift ever for the people of Sabah’.

The 2014 supply allocation of RM4,621.5 million consist of:
  • Emoluments - RM702.51 million
  • Recurrent expenditures - RM1,736.59 million
  • Special expenditures -  RM2,182.4 million

The 2014 Budget will focus on the 6 objectives and strategies, namely:
  • to strengthen the State financial position; 
  • to improve basic infrastructure and public amenities; 
  • to expedite the achievement of Halatuju; 
  • to develop youth and human capital of high value and quality; 
  • to eradicate poverty and improve the quality of life of the people; 
  • to achieve balanced regional development.

Emolument has increased by RM39.34 million or 5.93 per cent compared to the total of RM663.17 million in 2013 due to salary adjustments for State civil servants under the Malaysian Remuneration System which was implemented in 2013.

And, to ensure that the Government’s machineries run smoothly at maximum capacity, effective and efficient in the effort to improve the Government’s delivery system for our beloved people, the estimated recurrent expenditures for the coming year is increased by RM648.66 million or 59.62 per cent compared with the estimated recurrent expenditures of RM1,087.93 million for year 2013.

The increase in the allocation is also due to repayment of Government bonds maturing in 2014 amounting to RM568.9 million and repayment of Federal Government debts amounting to RM171 million.

Special Expenditure shows a decrease of RM154.98 million or 6.63 per cent compared to RM2,337.38 million for 2013.

“This year, the Government made numerous equity investments in Government agencies and hence the reduction in 2014. Nonetheless, the State Government will ensure that our development agenda and investment will continue to be intensified specifically on high impact projects that can further spur the State economic growth,” Musa explained.

He also said that with the biggest expenditure recorded in the financial history of the State budget, it will boost the economy of Sabah and enable it to grow to a higher scale and thus achieve a high income economy within a short span of time,” said Musa.

The Finance Minister is also confident that people from all walks of life, regardless of religion, race, gender, rich or poor, old or young, physically fit or those who are physically challenged, wherever they may be on land or sea, will benefit from the just unveiled State Budget 2014.

“With a projected revenue of RM4.583 billion for the year 2014, which is the highest estimate in the history of State budget preparation, the 2014 Supply Expenditure, which is also the biggest budget in the State financial history, is estimated at RM4.622 billion, in order to meet the people’s expectations, to continue our development agenda and most importantly to fulfil our promises."

“Sabah played a major role in the formation of Malaysia since 50 years ago. During those five decades, the people of Sabah have gone through various experiences, through thick and thin in politics, economy, social, and education, to mention some. Over 50 years the estimated revenue has increased remarkably by 74.52 times and the estimated expenses by 75.77 times."

TheGreenMechanics: We have one of the biggest state budgets in the country (if not the biggest) and no provision for Sustainable, Efficient Energy or Renewable Energy promotion.

Just days earlier the CM pledged the government support for renewables. It apparently is not translated into tangible effort.

Original article

Friday, November 15, 2013

Microsoft says there is huge potential in fuel cells

In fuel cells technology, electrochemical process is involved to convert energy from hydrogen, natural gas, ethanol or biogas.

Demonstration model of a direct-methanol fuel cell. The actual fuel cell stack is the layered cube shape in the center of the image. Image source.

In a latest development, Microsoft says it is considering the use of fuel cells to power data centers, saying that its studies find it a technology with much potential.

How so?
  • According to the studies by the IT giant, fuel cells are much cheaper than high voltage switchgear, transformers and copper cables, and have no moving parts, unlike generators.

  • Where fuels are distributed in a data center, and placed at the servers and racks, it is possible to completely eliminate the power distribution system in the data center, including the power backup generation.

  • If a fuel cell fails it only affects a small part of the data center, the report reasoned.

The paper, boldly titled "No more electrical infrastructure: Towards fuel cell powered data centers," investigates fuel cells as a centralized power source and as distributed power generation technology with fuel cells used at the rack or single server cabinet level.

There is broad industry interest in fuel cells. In September, eBay unveiled a data center in Salt Lake City Utah that uses fuel cells made by Bloom Energy.

But overall, use if the technology in data centers remains far from mainstream. Sean James, a senior research program manager at Microsoft's Global Foundation Services and an author of the study, said in a blog post that he sees "tremendous potential" in fuel cells, though "deep technical issues" remain.

 "Fuel cells are very clean, reliable and perfect for small form factor applications. By integrating fuel cells with IT hardware, we can cut much of the power electronics out of the conventional fuel cell system. What we are left with is a very simple and low cost data center and fuel cell system." - Sean James

Still there are issues with fuel cells

Technical issues, such as the fuel distribution system, power management and even safety training, remain to be resolved. Nonetheless, James argues, in time, "you may end up with one someday delivering clean electricity and heat to your home" via fuel cells.

The paper looks at running an entire data center on fuel cell technology and decoupling data centers from the electric grid. If fuel cells use natural gas, the buried lines delivering it are "not subject to severe weather."

Source: Computerworld Malaysia

Thursday, November 14, 2013

2013 Convention on Sustainable Energy

This year's sustainable energy convention in Sabah is held in Kota Kinabalu as follows:

Date           : 14th - 15th November 2013
Venue        : 1Borneo Pacific Ballroom, Kota Kinabalu Sabah
Officiated  : YAB Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah

Organizers :
Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA)
Malaysian Energy Commission
Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd

Energy efficiency convention

Among the papers and presentation during the 2-day convention:
  • Enhancing Energy Efficiency (EE) Through Policies and Legislation
  • RE Technology Development & Feed-in Tariff in Malaysia
  • Renewable Energy Development in Sabah
  • Industrial Energy Efficiency
  • Towards the development of Smart Building: Solar PV System & Energy Audit 
  • Towards the development of Smart Building: Elements of Energy Management
  • Solution for Future Sustainability in Malaysia
  • Renewable Energy Development in Malaysia: The Solar PV industry Perspective 

Selected papers will be highlighted in this website. Stay tuned.

Sabah seeks more investors for Renewable Energy

Sabah Institute of Developement Studies (IDs) on Tuesday organised a seminar entitled 'Greening of Sabah: Renewable energy options for the near future' in Kota Kinabalu. It's a good indication for the renewable energy industry, but let's hope this is not just a seminar that ends there.

This forum should be used to reassess the role and progress of the renewable energy sector in the country as a whole and in Sabah specifically from the perspective of both government and the private sector.

In other words, the government should not put too much of red tapes if it supports the development of renewable energy. Too much of a hassle and the private investors will shy away.

Teo (middle) receiving a memento from IDS chairman Datuk Clarence Bongkos Malakun at the seminar. Photo: The Borneo Post

Academic and research institutions should do more rigorous and extensive research activities pertaining to renewable energy development, said Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

Teo, who was representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, pointed out that solutions can be found in community based renewable energy projects including micro hydro and solar systems which are absolutely critical in meeting power supply needs of those living in remote locations.

With government support, more contribution from the private sectors in developing this sector is much expected given that we have renewable resources such as biomass from our extensive oil palm sector and natural resources that can support growth of the sector.

Demand for electricity in the state is expected to pick up considerably in the near future given Sabah’s on-going economic development. It had increased at an annual average of about 8% to 10% and is expected to continue at about 7.7% a year into the foreseeable future.

Due to rapidly increasing demand, unplanned outages lead to costly service interruptions especially in the east coast which is almost wholly dependent on diesel plants at the moment.

But the completion of the Kimanis and SPR Energy power projects next year are expected to stabilize power generation, generating 385 MW and increasing the state’s total generating capacity to approximately 1,400 MW.

The minister pointed out that in this context, the state Government is committed in embarking on aggressive strategies to promote large scale use of green energy and to support the development of the renewable energy sector.

Off-grid renewable energies vital

Off-grid renewable technologies, especially from non-hydroelectric resources will be one of the pivotal solutions to provide a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to meet the state’s power demand as the state’s economy expands.

However, government initiatives need to be supported by other stakeholders as the role of the government is to provide transparent and stable policy guidelines that facilitate investment such as sufficient infrastructure, incentives, technical and financial assistance.

Source: The Borneo Post, November 13, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Polish city of Lublin welcomes solar powered buses

In public transportation system, buses and trains have always been the suitable vehicles to install solar panels. This is primarily due to their flat and wide roofs. I'm pretty sure many of us have thought about this idea.

What MPK Lublin Ltd in Poland did was to put this into work.

If you think our cities don't have the market to make this feasible, Lublin is a city with just about 350,000 inhabitants.

The system's payback period is estimated at a mere 2 years. Image by AGM

Lublin powers buses with solar cell from Midsummer

In a move to reduce energy consumption and make public transport 'grenner', the Polish city of Lublin has installed flexible thin film solar cells from Midsummer on the roofs of its municipal buses.

The Municipal Transport Company (MPK) in Lublin has installed photovoltaic thin film CIGS solar panels on its buses' roofs. The solar panels turn solar energy into electric energy and are used to load the buses’ batteries. This will decrease the buses' alternators load, leading to lower fuel consumption and bringing both economic and ecological profits.

Potential savings are estimated at up to 8,000 zloty (1,900 euro) per bus per year. The system's payback period is estimated at a mere two years, taking into consideration only the fuel consumption reduction and not the overall environmental benefits. After two years, the solar energy solution will create compound surpluses for MPK for the remainder of the panels’ life span that will outlast the lifetime of the bus.

The Lublin solar bus project will initially run for two years, after which it will be evaluated. The first solar bus is already in operation.

The thin film solar cells have been manufactured by Midsummer, a leading Swedish supplier of equipment for cost effective manufacturing of CIGS thin film flexible solar cells, and installed on MPK’s fleet of Scania buses. The project is a cooperation between MPK and the Lublin University of Technology.

Ideal for vehicles and buildings

"As opposed to the more traditional silicon-based solar cells, thin film CIGS solar panels are flexible and light weight and therefore ideal to be mounted on moving vehicles – and also on many buildings, landfills etc," said Sven Lindström, CEO, Midsummer. "If a city in north central Europe can install thin film solar panels on its public transport vehicles with energy cost efficiency and a short payback period, imagine the potential for larger cities in sunnier parts of the world for introducing solar energy to its vehicles and buildings."
"We firmly believe that thin film CIGS solar cells are the solar cells of the future. They are increasingly efficient and have many advantages over traditional silicon-based solar cells. They are durable, can withstand vibrations, can be curved and bent, and can be manufactured cost-efficiently in small volumes."

Midsummer’s "DUO" is a unique and compact CIGS turn-key system with a 5 MW annual production capacity. Midsummer’s CIGS cells looks like crystalline silicon solar cells, but are made on stainless steel substrates. This makes the cells suitable not only for regular solar panels, but also for flexible, light weight panels that can be used on membrane roofs, landfills or other structures where the traditional glass modules cannot be applied.

"The thin film panels on the buses in Lublin are characterized by flexibility and shock resistance," said Professor Miroslaw Wendeker from the Faculty of Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics and Aerospace Propulsion at University of Technology in Lublin in an earlier interview with the Polish Press Agency. "These cells have better absorption feature than traditional silicon wafers. They can be configured at will and placed on any roof."

MPK Lublin Ltd. is the biggest public transport carrier in Lublin with a fleet of 60 trolleybuses and 215 buses. Lublin is a city on eastern Poland with a population of approx. 350,000 inhabitants.

TheGreenMechanics: Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown seem like great cities to start with an initiative.

News source: pv-magazine

Safer than uranium, Thorium is backed as a 'future fuel'

Nuclear scientists are being urged by the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix to develop thorium as a new fuel.

Mr Blix says that the radioactive element may prove much safer in reactors than uranium. It is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of nuclear weapons.

Thorium could prove to be safer in reactors than uranium

His comments will add to growing levels of interest in thorium, but critics warn that developing new reactors could waste public funds.

Mr Blix, the former Swedish foreign minister, told BBC News: "I’m a lawyer not a scientist but in my opinion we should be trying our best to develop the use of thorium. I realise there are many obstacles to be overcome but the benefits would be great.

"I am told that thorium will be safer in reactors - and it is almost impossible to make a bomb out of thorium. These are very major factors as the world looks for future energy supplies."

His enthusiasm is shared by some in the British nuclear establishment. Scientists at the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) have been encouraged by the government to help research on an Indian thorium-based reactor, and on a test programme in Norway.

The Norway tests at the OECD’s nuclear trials facility in Halden are conducted in a Bond-style underground bunker. Image source: BBC

How is thorium safer than uranium

When a uranium reactor overheats and the fuel rods can’t contain the chain reaction, as happened at Fukushima, the crisis continues. If something happened to a thorium reactor, technicians could simply switch off the stimulus which comes from uranium or plutonium in a small feeder plant and the thorium reaction would halt itself.

Read the complete article at BBC 

TheGreenMechanics: This surely is a very contentious issue, but if there's anything about alternatives that we need to be told about, we deserve to know it. Even if it's purely academic.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thailand preparing to make it easier for households to install solar rooftops

Earlier this month, pv-magazine reported that the Thai government is preparing an easier permitting regime for the residential solar installation requirement.

What this could mean is that it will be easier for households to install solar rooftops in future.

Thailand staying ahead in RE competitiveness. Image by Doug Beckers

Easing of residential solar requirements

Bangkok-based English language newspaper The Nation has reported the Thai government is considering relaxing the rules relating to household solar systems.

Under the current Thai regime, domestic installations require an industrial licence, but The Nation reported the government's Industrial Works Department is considering removing the requirement for household systems generating up to 20 kW.

Quoting Industrial Works Department director-general Nattapon Nattasomboon, the report states all the relevant government departments back the idea, which could be ready to put before cabinet for approval.

Under the proposed change, residential system installers would still be required to notify their local industry agencies.

Market research consultancy IHS has predicted Thailand will lead the charge of emerging solar markets – which it predicts will account for 19% of new solar by 2017 – with its popular adder FIT scheme set to drive 2.9 GW of installations in the next four years.

TheGreenMechanics: Great move by our northern neighbour! Thailand seems to be always ahead of us in the renewable energy industry, but let's take this as a challenge. A challenge and task that is not beyond our reach, really.

News source

Thursday, November 7, 2013

SAVE programme achieved energy-saving targets

What is SAVE Programme

SAVE or Sustainability Achieved via Energy Efficiency, is a program spearheaded by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA), to improve energy efficiency in Malaysia through several initiatives.

I posted an article two years ago here pertaining to the SAVE Programme and it's benefit. SOGO, a departmental store in Kuala Lumpur saved about RM80,000 monthly in energy bill by replacing the chillers with energy-efficient type.

What is SAVE objectives
  • To create a culture of efficient use of energy among general public and business entities.
  • To save daily energy costs by consumers from reduced energy consumption and manage growth energy demand.
  • To accelerate the transformation of consumer electrical appliances market and increase the share of Energy Efficient models in the market.
  • As one of the initiatives to mitigate GHG emissions reduction.

Programme appraisal

Energy, Green Technology and Water ministry said that the programme has succeeded in achieving energy-saving targets. The ministry listed the followings as its achievement:-
  • Cutting RM64.1 million of the overall cost for three electrical equipment – refrigerator , air conditioner and chiller.
  • Since its commencement in 2011, efforts to encourage the use of the five-star rating energy-efficient equipment, had also saved 246.4 GigaWatt hours (GWh) of electricity.
  • Emission of carbon dioxide has also been reduced by 167.6 million kg.
  • Energy-efficient equipment market share as at Dec 31, 2012 (after  2-year implementation): 
  • 40.8% for refrigerator,
    21.6% air-conditioner, and
    39.2% chiller
    Original targets we're 25% for refrigerator, 20% for air-conditioner and 39% for chiller.

17 brands of air-conditioner and 16 brands of five-star refrigerator have entered the market after the programme was launched, compared to only 6 brands previously.

TheGreenMechanics: In this perspective, the Programme clearly achieve its objectives. Cool!

Are you one of the lucky buyers of the qualifying energy-efficient air-conditioners or refrigerators, and enjoyed RM200 rebates?

Source: BERNAMA 

Countries with GST, and Malaysia perspective

To begin with, I'll state here that I am for the implementation of the GST (Goods &Services Tax) in Malaysia. Whether you agree to it or otherwise, 160 countries in the world think VAT/GST is the one that is right for them.

In the ASEAN region, only Malaysia, Myanmar and Brunei have yet to adopt this taxation system.

I read that many people are unhappy with the proposed GST rate of 6% as they are worried that this will quickly be revised and it won't be too long before it becomes double that figure. I think this is unlikely and by right it should not be the case. You don't need to be unduly worried.

Take the following cases for example - many countries did not change their GST/VAT rates after so many years of implementation:

Source: ASTRO Awani 

I say we are in the right direction. We just need to have an efficient way of enforcing the implementation, and transparent way of spending the extra billions of Ringgit collected.

You can find out here what are the goods and services exempted from GST.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Japan's largest solar PV plant goes online in Kagoshima

Although Japan has now passed the 10 GW in cumulative solar PV installation, more than half of the installed capacity  is on residential rooftops.

The largest single solar farm in Japan is currently the one in the southern city of Kagoshima. It has just been brought online this week according to pv-magazine.

Kagoshima Mega-solar power plant. Photo by SMA

Japan’s largest PV power plant  in Kagoshima

The 70 MW PV plant is run and owned by local utility provider, the Kagoshima Mega Solar Power Corporation, and relies on system technology provided by Germany’s SMA.

SMA has provided 140 Sunny Central 500CP-JP central inverters, and 1,260 Sunny String-Monitors for the plant, which is now the largest single solar farm in Japan.

SMA has established a keen presence in Japan in recent years, setting up a sales and service company in Tokyo and having its Sunny Boy inverters certified by the Japan Electrical Safety & Environment Technology Laboratories (JET) for use in rooftop arrays for the Japanese market.

Even though JET certification is not required for central inverters used on industrial-scale solar projects, SMA felt compelled to ensure that its Sunny Boy technology would be able to withstand the multitude of adverse weather conditions that panels in southern Japan can sometimes be subjected to – conditions including typhoons, high humidity and salty air.
Source: pv-magazine

TheGreenMechanics: With rapid growth of solar PV industry there, Japan is thought to be the new Germany in renewable energy sector, particularly solar.

It will come as no surprise if Japan can quickly fill the gap left behind by the subsequent shutting down of nuclear power plants in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Solar Power: India passed 2 GW mark

India did it again! Just last year, the world's second most populous country announced that it has passed the 1 GW mark in solar PV installation.

At the end of September this year, India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy says grid-connected solar in the country has passed the 2 GW point.

Grid-connected PV projects, like this Gujarat solar park, have passed the 2 GW mark in India.

Renewable Energy on the rise in India 

The Indian government has announced the nation has passed the 2 GW mark for cumulative installation of grid-connected solar power.

In a statement on its website, the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said that at the end of September, 395 MW of grid-connected PV had been installed in the 2013-14 financial year, as part of a 1.1 GW target.

With the government recently publishing the guidelines for the 750 MW phase II, batch I of its Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, the installation figures are impressive but remain dwarfed by wind power generation in the country.

A further 808 MW of wind power has been installed in the current financial year to take the cumulative figure to 19.8 GW with a 2.5 GW wind power target this year alone.

Small hydro, with a cumultaive 3.7 GW, and bagasse – or sugarcane pulp – with 2.4 GW, also lead solar. Biomass (with a cumulative 1.3 GW installed) and energy-from-waste (99 MW) complete the list of grid-connected renewable energy sources listed by the ministry.

Solar amounts to 139 MW of off-grid renewables generation, behind non bagasse biomass (491 MW) and biomass gasifiers (163 MW).

Those figures mean solar is the third most important renewable enrgy source for off-grid energy, ahead of energy-from-waste (116 MW), water mills (11 MW) and aero generators/hybrid systems (2 MW).

TheGreenMechanics: Impressive! While not intending to measure ourself up with big and power hungry country like India, we should take cue from their initiatives, particularly with the resources and the favourable climate here - we should have more solar PV system installed in Malaysia.

Note that we have many internationally known solar panel manufacturers in Malaysia.

Source: PV Magazine

Sunday, November 3, 2013

3.3 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025

Great initiative by eight US states!

Zero emission car, California
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, walks between a pair of zero emission vehicles displayed in Sacramento, Calif., following a news conference to announce the signing of an agreement on zero emissions cars. Photo: AP

By 2025, they are expecting to have 3.3 million zero-emission cars on the roads. Governors of the following states have pledged to work together to build charging stations and other fueling infrastructure:
  • New York
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • Maryland
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island, and
  • Vermont

In total, they make up about 23% of the US auto market according to the Associated Press. The pledge represents another step forward as officials try to cut down on harmful greenhouse gasses that are regularly emitted from most vehicles on the highway.

"This agreement is a major step forward to reducing the emissions that are causing our climate to change and unleashing the extreme weather that we are experiencing with increased frequency," said Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, in a statement.

Among their duties, participating states will assemble a task force that to develop strategies on widening the presence of charging stations, seen as perhaps the biggest obstacle in making zero-emission cars and EVs a mainstream success.

In terms of legislation, the states have already adopted stringent guidelines that call for a certain percentage of new vehicles sold to be zero emission by 2025. California is the most ambitious of the bunch, requiring 15.4% of new cars (around 1.5 million vehicles in all) to be free of harmful gas emissions by the target year.

But as the AP reports, that's a very tall order, considering hybrids and EVs currently account for less than 2% of California's auto market.

TheGreenMechanics:  It seems like a very tall order to me, but if they can offer tax breaks to dealers who can meet the percentage, and to the consumers who support this initiative, then that would be incetivising sales which makes sense. Where there's a will there's a way.

Full article by Associated Press here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sembulan River Park - A beautification initiative by Kota Kinabalu city

The once neglected river that flows through Sembulan in Kota Kinabalu has now been beautified as part of the City Hall's effort to clean up the area and provide recreational facilities to the city dwellers.

This is the first of a 2-phase project earmarked for Sembulan.

The opening of the River Park was officiated by Datuk Musa Hj Aman, Chief Minister of Sabah on the 24th June 2012.

View towards Sembulan

River side, facing Kg Sembulan

There is a stage suitable for performances. The park is equipped with CCTVs.

View towards Karamunsing, from the stage

Beverly Hotel is facing the river

Other than recreational activities, there are plenty of birds to watch. Just watch out for their droppings

"Bon voyage"

The sensible thing to do next is to restructure the village to rid it of the transient population and give deserving citizens proper basic facilities. It can then become tourist attraction, or at least piece of mind to the folks jogging at this park.

GST: Taxable and non-taxable goods

Some people say that the implementation of the GST is premature in Malaysia as we have not achieve high income status yet. I say, the time is now. If we think we are not ready yet, we'll never be ready for it. Not in five years' time and not 10 years later.

It is good for the country and everybody will be contributing to the government's coffers. As it is now, only the working class and those with reportable businesses are paying tax.

The more important question (at lease to me) is how efficient and transparent would the billions of Ringgit collected be spent. Everyone should enjoy the benefit of the government's better financial standing as a result of GST implementation. Not just some selected few.

If you've been asking, the followings are goods and supplies exempted from the GST:-

Zero rated supplies include major essential goods such as foodstuff and utility services.

Essential services are also exempted, meaning you should not experience increase in prices of services rendered after the implementation.

The other big question is how stringent will the enforcement be. Traders will tend to increase selling prices citing GST as reason when in actual fact they remain similar or lower. Spend money on public education, monitoring, and enforcement - prosecuting those violating the law.

Infographic source: Astro Awani

Friday, November 1, 2013

Useful information from the recent SEDA Malaysia Open Day

The SEDA Open Day was organised on October 20, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur and although I am not one of the participants, it appeared to be a great session for licence holders and enthusiasts alike.

I posted an article about the Open Day a couple of weeks ago and felt obliged to post this one here in appreciation to a comment by one of our readers. The reader provided very good tips and information. Among others, they are:

a) What happen after the 21-year agreement between FiAH and TNB?

After the expiry of the 21-year  Renewable Energy Power Purchasing Agreement (REPPA) between FiAH and TNB, a Net-Metering scheme would probably be used. In Net-metering, energy generated from the solar panel can be used by the home owner and any excess electricity not used will be exported to TNB's grid and the amount will be deducted from the owner's energy consumption bill.

b) Issue pertaining to additional bonus rate in the FiT

Additional bonus rate for solar panels used as a building material will be subject to verification by SEDA inspector. Bonus rate can only be given if SEDA is satisfied with the installation.

c) What happen if my solar PV system is not performing, i.e. it is not feeding into TNB's grid?

Although REPPA states that FiAH would feed all electricity generated from the solar PV system, there will be no penalty from TNB in case of non performance. This is applicable only to residential installations, and not non-individual installations.

d) Can I increase the capacity of my solar PV installation?

Existing FiAHs can submit application to SEDA to increase the capacity of their solar systems. Approval by the authority is subject to availability of quota at the time the application is submitted.

e) I saw that there is a projected degression rate in the SEDA website. Will there be changes to the published rates?

Degression rate may change as SEDA sees fit. For 2014 degression rate, SEDA has submitted its proposal to the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KETTHA) for approval. A revised rate would be published at its website.

f) Is the income from solar PV installation at home subject to taxation?

Income from solar PV installation at homes are subject to income tax. SEDA informed that the Treasury has rejected its proposal to exempt domestic installations from income tax.

g) There seem to be delays in payment to FiAHs from TNB?

TNB's Dr Ahmad Jaafar assured that TNB will pay licence holders (FiAHs) within 30 days of verified invoice as contained in the REPPA. FiAHs can check TNB e-Services website after mid Nov 2013 to view their Renewable Energy Payment Advice.

Note: SEDA informed that there will be no more quota release for 2013. As such, home owners interested to install grid connected solar PV system at their homes will have to wait for 2014 quota.

Credit to the our commenter, Unknown, for this information.

REPPA - Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement
FiAH - Feed-in Approval Holder

Mount Kinabalu from different perspectives

The older generation believe that Mt Kinabalu is the heart of this land. By heart, they mean the life of the land - if you take it out, this land will destabalise like a driver-less boat, floating aimlessly into the open sea. Anyway, I'll leave it to the folks to tell the story to the young.

Not too long ago, it was taught to be the highest peak in South East Asia but with the emergence of better technology, the highest peak is now known to be somewhere in Indonesia. With this fact known, you still think that Mt Kinabalu is one of the most spectacular looking mountain around.

Scenic view from Mengkabong Bridge, Tuaran

Pekan Nabalu, few kilometres away from the actual location of Mt Kinabalu

Cloudy Kinabalu
Visitors enjoying the spectacular close range view of the mountain at Pekan Nabalu observation deck

Afternoon view from Kasih Sayang Resort, located above Kokol Hill in Menggatal

Wider view from Mengkabong fisherman village located around 60 km away

Sunrise at Donggongon town of Penampang

I've heard that the views from around Kota Belud area are just as magnificent and some say that the best place to get a glimpse of the dangerous cliff is here in this district.

I hope to make a trip there soon.