Sunday, June 30, 2013

The toughest animal on the planet

Not really the kind of animal you see everyday as they are only about 1 mm to 1.5 mm long but still, they are animal.

The toughest, hardest creature is a tardigrade, also known as a water bear. They are found everywhere in the world, from the highest mountains to the deepest oceans, and there are more than 900 species of them.

Tardigrades or water bear. Freeze them, dry them, expose them to radiation and they're so resilient they'll still be alive! Image credit: Dailymail

Image credit: Dailymail

Tardigrades can dehydrate their bodies to just 1% of their normal water content. Without water, most chemical reactions happen too slowly to harm them and ice crystals can’t rupture their cells. They are extremophiles – animals that can exist in the most hostile of conditions.

They have been boiled at over 150ºC and frozen in liquid nitrogen without any noticeable harm. They can survive pressures of 6,000 atmospheres and in 2007, the Russian FOTON-M3 spacecraft took tardigrade passengers into orbit.

After 12 days exposed to the vacuum, cold and radiation of space, they hadn’t just survived; they had laid eggs that hatched! Pretty cool.

Now, for a comparison, the bears, despite their big and tough body build, is nothing compared to the toughness and survivability of the tardigrades.

The Bear that we know; only more than a thousand times bigger. Image credit:

References: Dailymail, Sciencefocus

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Facebook admits data breach exposed 6 million users

If you are accessing your Facebook account from a mobile device, chances are you have stored your telephone number in your page, privately or publicly.

This disclosure should be a good reason for you to be alarmed and be prudent with the sort of information you store online:

Facebook has blamed the data leaks on a technical glitch in its massive archive of contact information.

6 million users exposed?

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc has inadvertently exposed 6 million users' phone numbers and e-mail addresses to unauthorised viewers over the past year, the world's largest social networking company disclosed late Friday.

Facebook blamed the data leaks, which began in 2012, on a technical glitch in its massive archive of contact information collected from its 1.1 billion users worldwide. As a result of the glitch, Facebook users who downloaded contact data for their list of friends obtained additional information that they were not supposed to have.

Facebook's security team was alerted to the bug last week and fixed it within 24 hours. But Facebook did not publicly acknowledge the bug until Friday afternoon, when it published an "important message" on its blog explaining the issue.

"We currently have no evidence that this bug has been exploited maliciously and we have not received complaints from users or seen anomalous behavior on the tool or site to suggest wrongdoing, it's still something we're upset and embarrassed by, and we'll work doubly hard to make sure nothing like this happens again."
- Facebook, on its blog.

The breach follows recent disclosures that several consumer Internet companies turned over troves of user data to a large-scale electronic surveillance program run by US intelligence.

The companies include Facebook, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Yahoo Inc. - Reuters

TheGreenMechanics: Sometimes I feel registering with social network such as Facebook is not worth it. What say you?


China invests nearly $40 billion in international renewable energy projects

China is known to rank first in the world in attracting clean energy investment, receiving US$ 65.1 billion in 2012.

But new analysis shows that China is increasingly becoming a global force in international clean energy investment, too. Between 2002 and 2012, the country has provided nearly $40 billion (RM126.4 billion) to other countries’ solar and wind industries.

A new update in the findings should include Malaysia in the destination countries list. We have China's investment in West Malaysia and the recent launching of Solar wafer manufacturing plant in Kuching Sarawak.

Figure 1: China's top 10 destination countries for the 2002-2012 period. Source

This investment is consistent with a broader trend of major emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil becoming important sources of global overseas investments.

China’s overseas Wind and Solar investments

Research shows that Chinese companies have made at least 124 investments in solar and wind industries in 33 countries over the past decade (2002 – 2011), more than half of which were made in 2010 and 2011 (see Figure 1). The wind/solar investment by the numbers:-
  1. Of the 54 investments for which financial data were available, the cumulative amount invested came to nearly US$40 billion.
  2. China invested roughly US$10 billion in 16 wind projects and US$27.5 billion in 38 solar investments.
  3. Of 53 investments with capacity data available, the cumulative installed capacity added was nearly 6,000 MW.
  4. The majority of investments were in electricity generation. Several investments were made in manufacturing facilities and to establish sales and marketing offices.
  5. Most of the investments were in developed countries. A huge amount went to the United States, as well as Germany, Italy, and Australia.
  6. A handful of developing countries—including South Africa, Pakistan, and Ethiopia—also attracted multiple investments.

Drivers and challenges to China's overseas investments

Both wind turbine and solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing industries have grown substantially – in 2010, four Chinese companies from each industry ranked among world’s top 10 manufacturers for wind turbine and solar PV respectively.

However, their market bases are quite different – China’s wind industry relies on its vast yet oversupplied domestic market, whereas the solar industry relies on the international market for 95% of its sales.

Both industries need to boost sales in international markets, which has not always been easy. Chinese wind companies are relatively new entrants to the international markets.

Declining subsidies in the European solar market have decreased demand for Chinese solar products. As a result, direct investments overseas are seen as a way of retaining and expanding market share, typically through creating demand for the export of products.

Read more at Environmental Expert

Five-year plan to step up on green technology

Malaysian Green Technology Corp (GreenTech Malaysia), an organisation spearheaded by Ahmad Hadri Haris - the person instrumental to the formulation and implementation of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) mechanism in Malaysia - is poised to bring the nation to greater height in green technology.

Ahmad Hadri was appointed as CEO of GreenTech Malaysia just a couple of months ago.

Malaysian Green Technology Corporation premise. Photo credit: The Borneo Post

Moving on, GreenTech Malaysia unveiled a five-year plan to accelerate green technology as one of the strategic engines for the nation's economic growth.

In a statement, GreenTech Malaysia said the plan identified seven key sectors as the initial foundation for Malaysia's green technology advancement.
  1. Energy
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Buildings
  4. Information and communication technology
  5. Water
  6. Waste
  7. Transport
GreenTech Malaysia said the plan set a clear agenda to realise its goal to position Malaysia as world hub for Green Technologies by 2020.

To encourage the implementation of green technology in the identified sectors, GreenTech Malaysia will focus on five key areas:
  • Promotion and awareness,
  • Human capital development,
  • Market enhancement,
  • Industry growth, and
  • Policy and fiscal support.

The opportunities are vast and the green technology industry and part of our role at GreenTech Malaysia is to increase its availability, acceptance and recognition,"it said.

Chief executive officer, Ahmad Hadri Haris, said Malaysia has great potential to become a major producer of green technology for the global market.

"It has strong backing and commitment by the government, coupled with quality work force, committed small and medium enterprise, and good public infrastructure.

"On our part, we will côntinue to play a catalytic role in driving the various initiatives to push the green technology agenda aggressively amongst Malaysian industry players" he said.

GreenTech Malaysia is a not-for-profit organisation under the preview of the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Malaysia.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The new iPhone 5S / iPhone 6 will have no home button?

Would it surprise you if Apple ditch the physical home button for the soon-to-be-announced iPhone 5S/6? Rumour suggests it might make a landmark break from traditional iPhone design.

Eagerly waiting for the next iPhone? Rival Samsung have so far launched Galaxy S4, S4 mini, Note 2 and Galaxy Grand since Apple launched its single product, the iPhone 5.

According to a report Taiwanese site, which was brought to wider attention by Cult of Mac, the iPhone 5S will drop a physical home button in favour of an on-screen capacitive presser.

It’s not known whether the change, which flies in the face of reports that the seventh-gen iPhone will differ little from the current model, is to allow Apple to equip the handset with a larger screen.

The site does disclose, however, that the new button will be coated in scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass to make it more resistant to the kind of wear and tear that has caused problems with iPhones’ physical buttons in the past.

Apple purportedly also favours sapphire glass because it is compatible with optic sensors.


Industry consensus suggests that the iPhone 5S will land in September 2013. The phone is set to be the first in which the iOS software that powers iPhones is helmed by hardware design hero Jonathan Ive.

Ive is expected to usher in a new iOS era marked by a 'flatter' look and feel and less in the way of cutesy skeuomorphic icons, whereby apps resemble real life objects – for example, the current Notes app that takes on the form of a notebook.

iPhone 5S/ iPhone 6 specifications? Source

Display      : 4.0 inches
Resolution : 1136 x 640 pixels
IGZO screen technology
Processor  : iOS 7
Camera     : 12.0 megapixel
Storage     : 128 GB internal memory (optional)
NFC chip
Fingerprint (for unlocking and payments)
Global 4G support
A7 chip
1.2GHz quad-core

Impressive! But I'm waiting for a screen size of at least 4.5-inch for the next generation iPhone. This is a deal breaker for me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Interesting street-view of Shanghai

There are many places of interest in the busy city of Shanghai and it is totally unfair to force yourself to visit all of them in a span of just one or two days. A four- or five-day tour would be more like it.

I asked our host what is the population of Shanghai and was told that it's currently about 24 million. Compare this to Malaysia's (the whole country) 29 million people and you get the idea how condensed people are in the big city.

The followings are some of the not-so-glamorous selection of street photos during our visit:-

They say you miss the Oriental Pearl Tower and you've missed Shanghai. I tend to agree.

It maybe a modern city but there's nothing wrong capping a skyscraper with a piece of history.

Taxi drivers are in a 'cage' of their own, well protected. I think this is a good one to emulate.

This bear glass has Arabic wordings on it. I don't understand what is written there but it somehow feels awkward.[BTW, I don't drink]

In Shanghai, 'honking' seem to be the way of communication and you'll hear pretty much (or rather, too much) of them everywhere. So, that sign up there is necessary sometimes.

Ran out of idea for a catchy website name? Try numbers. They are unique, too.

Minimalist. An umbrella could be your taxi-stand shade when needed.

Smart idea - A trader using solar panel to power up his photo kiosk at The Bund. It costs you RMB20 to RMB40 per 8" frame.

Some people like the idea of a limousine as their wedding car

while...some prefer to wait for the taxi

UFO spaceship ready to 'sail' on Huangpu River? No, that's Mercedes-Benz Arena, the auto giant's show centre.

And...finally my favourite - Solar-powered road signage. It's cool and I like it.

Stay tuned. A posting of a different kind of captures will follow soon.

Monday, June 24, 2013

World's largest solar-powered boat sails to study climate change

Name           : MS Tûranor PlanetSolar , Owner : PlanetSolar
Builder         : Knierim Yachtbau, Kiel, Germany
Cost             : €15 million
Launched     : 31 March 2010

Length           : 31 m (35 m with flaps)
Beam            : 15 m (23m with flaps)
Propulsion     : 2 Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electrical Motors - 60kW each (max) @ 1600 rpm
                      2 Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electrical Motors - 10kW each (max) @ 1000 rpm
Speed           : 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)  - maximum
                       7.5 knots (13.9 km/h; 8.6 mph) - cruising

MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is the largest solar-powered boat in the world.

In a mission to study the Gulf Stream

NEW YORK: The world's largest fully solar-powered boat, Turanor PlanetSolar, docked in New York on June18, 2013 during a mission to study the effects of climate change on the Gulf Stream current.

Sponsored in part by the Swiss government, the 35-metre (115-foot) catamaran is crowned with solar panels that retract in port but open like a bird's wings to take best advantage of the sun's rays when at sea. Weighing in at 90 tonnes, it travels at an average five knots.

The ship set sail from La Ciotat in France just over two months ago. And since it has made stops including the southeastern US city of Miami on its information gathering mission on climate change and the Gulf current.

"I myself live in Brittany, west of France, and we are very worried. We all know that if the Gulf Stream changes, even a little bit, our climate will deteriorate quiet a lot."
- Gerard d'Aboville, the boat's French captain.

The Gulf Stream sends a huge mass of warmer water from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Atlantic, giving Atlantic Europe a relatively temperate climate for its l

It also keeps areas it crosses in the Americas, such the West Indies, from being excessively arid.

PlanetSolar will be cruising through August with stops planned in Boston, Newfoundland, Iceland and Norway.

"Our goal is to understand the complex interactions between physics, biology and climate ... to refine climate simulation," said Martin Beniston of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva. - AFP

Image credit: Fievet/AFP via Designyourrust

Cities get creative on Energy Efficiency

World's major cities, led by Los Angeles, are improving their energy efficiency - a great sign towards achieving sustainable business activities, and more importantly making the cities "a better place to live and work".

110 cities were studied including our neighbouring Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok, and CDP came back to report the following:

KK Port at Tg. Lipat
Energy efficiency is managed largely by retro-fitting street lights. KK Port photo by: de engineur

World cities look to improve energy efficiency

LONDON: Some of the world's largest cities are improving their energy efficiency, a report said Thursday, while nations struggle to forge a global response to climate change.

Cities are taking action to reduce their carbon emissions and better manage their water strategy, said a report by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which runs a platform for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share environmental information.

The 110-city report found that one out of every two actions cities take to reduce emissions are focused on efficiency.

Los Angeles led the way, managing annual energy savings of $13 million (9.85 million euros) -- largely by retro-fitting traffic signals and street lights --followed by Washington and Las Vegas with $6.3 million, the CDP found.

"Cities are hotbeds of innovation, and local governments have been quick to implement many new ways to combat and adapt to climate change and resource scarcity."- Conor Riffle, head of CDP's cities programme.

"These leading cities are enjoying multiple paybacks for their economies and communities. National governments should pay close attention."

Cities that took part in the study included Toyko, Seoul, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Singapore, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Moscow, Paris and London.

The study found that the European cities surveyed produced $12,502 gross domestic product per metric tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, with South American cities producing $6,816, East Asian cities $5,831 and North American cities $5,550.

It found that 62 percent of such actions had the potential to attract new business and investment.

Meanwhile it found that 55 percent of the cities studied were undertaking initiatives to reduce emissions that promote walking and cycling.

Reference: IndiaTimes

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Huawei launches Ascend P6, the world's slimmest smartphone

China's Huawei unveiled its flagship smartphone, the Ascend P6, at its first standalone launch event in London this week, underlining its ambitions to compete with Apple and Samsung in the top tier of mobile technology.

WORLD'S SLIMMEST: The new Huawei Ascend P6 smartphone during launch in London on June 18, 2013


               Dimensions: 132.7 x 65.5 x 6.2 mm (5.22 x 2.58 x 0.24 in)
               Weight: 120 g (4.23 oz)

               Type: Capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors
               Size: 720 x 1280 pixels, 4.7 inches (~312 ppi pixel density)

               Card slot microSD, up to 32 GB
               Internal 8 GB, 2 GB RAM

               GPRS Class 10, 32 - 48 kbps EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps
               HSDPA 14.4 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
               WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Bluetooth, NFC
               USB, microUSB v2.0, USB On-the-go

               Primary 8 MP, autofocus, LED flash
               Secondary 5 MP Video Yes, 1080p@30fps

               Android OS, v4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
               CPU Quad-core 1.5 GHz
               GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS

BATTERY Li-Po 2000 mAh


The company says the device, at 6.18mm thick, is the world's slimmest. It has a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, designed for taking "selfies", or pictures of the owner to be shared on social media networks.

The company picked the launch date - 6/18 (June 18) - to tie in with the smartphone's dimensions. The launch, at an arts venue in North London, takes a cue from Apple and Samsung, both of which have made new product announcements at high profile events for a number of years.

Previously Huawei unveiled its handsets at industry trade shows like Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Huawei, which also makes telecom networking gear, is looking to drive sales of its consumer devices, a sector in which it has only had its own brand for about three years.

The company was the fourth-largest maker of smartphones in the first quarter of 2013, trailing LG Electronics and the two dominant brands Apple and Samsung, according to analyst firm Gartner. The top two sold more than 100 million units between them, while LG sold 10 million and Huawei 9 million, most of which were in its native China.

The Ascend P6 uses Huawei's customised version of Google's Android operating system.

Industry analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight said that at the right price the Ascend P6 would attract buyers who had not considered Huawei before.

The device is not, at this stage, compatible with the high speed, next generation 4G networks, which are being rolled out across the world.

Image credit: AFP, sourced from: TechCentral

Discard used energy-saving bulbs and tubes with care

Global lighting giant Philips predicts that by 2015, 50% of the global lighting market will be LED, and if that comes true, then the disposal of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) could be less as a problem on a macro scale.

However, the high price barrier for LEDs means that most households will continue to use CFLs as they wait for the former to be more affordable, and this means that proper CFL disposal will remain a challenge in the short to medium term.

(Left) A 11W CFL bulb contains 2mg of mercury, and will go up according to the bulb size. 
(Right) The collection box at Ikea store in Petaling Jaya. 

Saving energy through the use of efficient lighting has been touted as a green act, but this is an incomplete picture as no focus has been given on end-of-life handling. Using CFLs is green only if the mercury inside is properly locked, if not recovered for reuse.

Problem with indiscriminate disposal

Added in vapour form, mercury is an essential part of the CFL technology, as it allows the bulbs to be an efficient light source. The downside of CFLs is that each bulb contains a small amount of mercury, typically around 4mg, that remain sealed within the glass tubing.

To compare, the old mercury-based thermometers can contain up to 500mg of mercury, which is more than what is found in 100 CFLs.

If mercury is swallowed, less than 1/1000 is absorbed by the body and most of it is eliminated, mainly through the urine and faeces. But the problem with mercury is that it is a persistent, bio-accumulative toxin. When the cumulative amount is huge, such as through the widespread use of fluorescent lamps, then there might be a real possibility of mercury contaminating landfills.

Discard with care

In some developed countries, like the United States, there are systematic efforts to salvage usable parts and materials from used CFL bulbs. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the recycling of CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs allows the reuse of the glass, metals and other materials that make up the bulbs.

It says virtually all components of a fluorescent bulb can be recycled. It is possible to separate the glass, phosphor powder and metal bits from crushed lights for reuse, but in Malaysia, this entire load is buried in a secured landfill.

For that to happen anywhere, there needs to be a proper disposal and collection system, whether mandated or otherwise. Malaysian regulations do not state that households need to properly dispose their CFLs. It is the same for Singapore, which allows households to throw away used bulbs along with their household waste.

IKEA the only one making an effort so far?

According to recent The Star report, Ikea in Malaysia is the only volunteer in doing its part to help reduce the problem of mercury emissions. It has placed a bulb collection box at its Mutiara Damansara store in Petaling Jaya, Selangor since 2010. No purchase is necessary for people to use the facility.

At its store, Ikea crushes the bulbs (along with fluorescent tubes) by using a specialised machine called the Bulb Eater, manufactured by US-based Air Cycle which cost the store RM20,000, before sending the waste to a secured landfill managed by Kualiti Alam at Bukit Nanas, Negri Sembilan. Thus far, the store has collected 11 drums of crushed lights weighing about three tonnes.

Kualiti Alam bills Ikea up to RM3,750 (not including transportation) for each tonne of crushed bulbs it receives.

Image credit: The Star. Full article can be found at The Star here.

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TheGreenMechanics: Participation by other private entities and NGOs is crucial. The government must play a role in easing the way for anyone wanting to promote the proper disposal of used bulbs/tubes. Ikea is definitely alone here.

Set up one center for each state for a start, then we can move on from there.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sabah to become second generation biofuel centre

There are more that 120 oil palm mills in Sabah, and according to industry study, they can provide sufficient residues or waste for downstream processing to produce biofuels.

If Sabah can gather these mills in a joint venture initiative, there is no doubt we will be able to tap into the biomass pellets market for Asia region which is estimated to be 10 million tonnes a year by 2020.

Syarikat Teck Guan Group, one of the palm oil industry players here, have recently launched its pilot bio-ethanol project in Tawau.

Empty fruit bunches going to waste? Photo credit:

What are second-generation biofuels

Advance biofuels, or second generation biofuels, are fuels that can be manufactured from various types of biomass. While first generation biofuels are derived from arable crops, second generation biofuels are made from lignocellulosic biomass or woody crops, agricultural residues or waste.

It is more difficult to extract them in the second generation biofuels, but unlike in the first generation, sourcing of raw materials doesn't compete with the food supplies.

Biomass joint venture cluster formed in Sabah

The aspiration to turn Sabah into the country's second generation biofuel centre is one step closer with the signing of the first of its kind biomass joint venture cluster here yesterday.

In the ceremony, some 10 oil palm mills here made their commitment to supply oil palm biomass to the joint-venture company, Lahad Datu Biomass JV Cluster, which they themselves own.

These include major plantation companies, namely Teck Guan Group, Bell Group, Genting Bhd, Kelas Wira Sdn Bhd and Golden Elate Sdn Bhd.

The company will then decide on the best use for the biomass such as producing solid or liquid biofuels in the form of pellets or ethanol, according to a statement from Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) Sabah Sdn Bhd.

"Oil palm mills are the source of empty fruit bunches (EFB), the main ingredient in pellets and this cluster is a concept by Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM), an agency in the Prime Minister's Department.

"It aims at aggregating sufficient volumes of biomass for a portfolio of downstream processing activities, where participation of biomass owners assures long-term supply which was the main stumbling block to take-off of the biomass industry.

Solid biofuel in the form of 6mm diameter empty fruit bunch (EFB) pellets. Photo credit: Masharum Corp

"AIM has identified about 70 of the 120-plus mills in Sabah to be potential partners in biomass JV clusters, with hope to aggregate some 1.5 million dry tonnes per JV cluster to realise the objective of making Sabah the Malaysian centre for second generation biofuel," said state-owned POIC Sabah.

Agensi Inovasi Malaysia, in collaboration with POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, was instrumental in staging workshops, visiting oil palm companies and ultimately persuading a pioneering group of private companies to set up a JV cluster amongst themselves.

"I hope these companies coming on board this JV cluster will inspire other oil palm companies to move from watching to being participants, so that we together can take our industry to an unprecedented level."
- Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, State Industrial Development Minister

AIM is the main driver of the National Biomass Strategy 2020 that seeks to unlock the potential of Malaysia's abundant biomass through value-adding manufacturing to create new wealth and high-wage jobs.

A biomass manufacturing industry is estimated to contribute RM15 billion gross national income (GNI) to Sabah's economy by 2020.

Biomass pellets have a worldwide market and in Asia, the demand to the tune of 10 million tonnes a year by 2020 is driven by Japan and South Korea as they attempt to fulfill a renewable energy mandate.

Similarly, there is a global demand for second-generation ethanol, or ethanol derived from biomass as it can be used as a fuel or can be further processed to other chemicals.

Source: Business Times

Comtec to build one of world’s largest solar wafer plants in Sarawak for RM1.2bil

Citing established power supply infrastructure, transparent policies, and  geographic convenience as pulling factor, China's Comtec Solar Group decided to choose Sarawak as its international expansion target.

In 2010, Sabah had a rare opportunity of attracting RM5.2 billion in foreign direct investment from another China solar player, Sun Bear Solar Ltd, to set up the first solar glass manufacturing in Malaysia. This plant was supposed to be sited at Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park, but due to power supply shortage the plan did not materialised.

It is apparent that, unlike Sarawak, we do not have an 'established infrastructure' yet.

Sama Jaya Industrial Zone was developed by Sarawak government to encourage the siting of electronic industries. Comtec solar plant will be sited here.

The Sarawak solar wafer manufacturing plant in brief:

Investment               : RM1.2 billion ($373 million)
Location                  : Sama Jaya Industrial Park, Kuching
Occupied area         : 40 acres
Job opportunity       : 1,300 new jobs
Construction            : Starting June 2013, expected completion Dec-2013
Production               : starting 1Q, 2014
Main customers       : Sunpower in Melaka, Panasonic in Kulim, Kedah

Comtec solar plant a sign of intensifying investments

China-based Comtec Solar Group (Comtec) via its subsidiary Comtec Solar International (M) Sdn Bhd has formally officiated the ground breaking for its RM1.2 billion solar wafer manufacturing plant yesterday which will eventually have an annual production capacity of one gigawatt of N-type mono solar wafer.

Having acquired approximately 40 acres of land in Sama Jaya Industrial Park, this makes the Sama Jaya plant one of the biggest mono solar wafer manifacturing facilities in the world upon completion.

With the development of Comtec’s solar plant capable of supplying energy at reasonable a price, it is hoped that it could create the link between Samalaju and Sama Jaya.

Chief Minister, Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud highlighted that, “With the establishment of Comtec’s solar plant, I believe it will push further our desire to see that the plan to attract the solar industry would be coming forth as the result of our preparations to attract energy intensive industries.”

Second Minister for Resource Planning and Environment, Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah said in his opening remarks, “Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone is developed by the state government to cater for the high-technology industry where our young university and college graduates can find employment.”

Explaining on the plant’s construction, Comtec chairman John Zhang said, “Our phase 1 construction will start by the end of June and is expected to be completed before the end of 2013 by Sinohydro.

“The production and the supply to our customers like Sunpower in Melaka and Panasonic in Kulim will begin in the first quarter of 2014 and ramping up throughout the year.”

To note, the Comtec Group is one of the world’s top leading professional solar silicon ingots and N type wafer manufacturer, with a non-disruptive technology that dramatically delivers superior performance than normal P-type mono and multi wafers in current worldwide solar market.

“Before we decided to choose Sarawak, we reviewed a number of location options worldwide,” Zhang told reporters.

“After an extensive evaluation of established infrastructure, transparent policies, ethical practices, production cost, greographic conveninence and encouraging investments, we finally chose Samalaju in November last year."
- John Zhang, Comtec Solar Group chairman

“We were impressed with Kuching’s well-established solar manufacturing base, experienced workforce and its attractive power supply infrastructure facilities,” said Zhang.

Source: The Borneo Post

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time is now ripe to implement GST

I agree. In the situation that I'm currently in, I'm all for the implementation.

According to PricewaterhouseCooper, except for Malaysia and Myanmar, all the countries in Asia had implemented the Good & Services Tax (GST). Two things: (1) protect the poor through special mechanism and, (2) do up public awareness and some public relations. The more we drag, the more confusion there will be, IMHO.

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Malaysian Rating Corp: Time is now ripe

The time is ripe for the government to implement the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as part of the move to boost revenue.

Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd Chief Economist Nor Zahidi Alias said while the government is seen to be stepping up implementation of the GST, he suggested complementary measures to protect the low-income earners from its impact.

“Overall, having the GST is good. I think public relations work has to be done a little bit more on GST and the fact that we shouldn’t be so idealistic by saying it won’t cause inflation. It will.

“I believe that even if there is an uptick in the prices, it won’t be that much even if we implement GST.”
- Nor Zahidi Alias during the Perdana Leadership Foundation CEO Forum 2013.

Nor Zahidi cautioned the possible inflation in the initial phase of GST implementation.

“I think that is why the government in the last couple of years came out with the Anti-Profiteering Act to make sure if we were to introduce GST, traders don’t take advantage by hiking up prices which they don’t need to,” he said.

In May, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said the government would not implement the GST in the near term as it was still studying its implications.

Ahmad Husni said the government was still engaging politicians, the private sector and the people before arriving at a decision.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Taxation Services Sdn Bhd Senior Executive Director Jennifer Chang said all the countries in Asia had implemented GST except Malaysia and Myanmar.

“Why are we not implementing GST? I think it is the very misunderstood taxes. Towards a certain extent, it is the most efficient way of collecting tax because the more you spend, more taxes you pay,” she added.

Source: New Sabah Times

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Miracle Pine in Japan

While flying on Malaysia Airlines today, I saw this on its inflight magazine and I thought it's worth sharing. I have little doubt that, if we have one here, it would definitely be a popular spot for the superstitious four-digit punters.

The Miracle Pine. Image: Malaysia Airlines - Going Places

Proud Pine

Of the 70,000 trees that once stood in the old forest of Rikuzentakata in the Iwaya Prefecture of Honshu, only one was left standing after the earthquake of Mar 2011. The sole survivor was nicknamed the 'Miracle Pine', though it succumbed to toxic salinity levels deposited in the soil a year later.

But now it has risen again anew, in the form of a sculpture - the Miracle Pine Project - marking the second anniversary of the disaster.

Using plastic moulds of the pine tree's trunk and branches, and steel needles for the leaves, the 1.4 tonne sculpture is anchored exactly where the original tree stood, which during its life survived not just one, but three devastating tsunamis.

Reference: MAS Going Places - June 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Is kelp a viable Biofuel?

According to Norway's Seaweed Energy Solutions (SES), the strange, foul-smelling brown kelp macroalgae could offer an almost unlimited global supply of commercial-quality ethanol or bio-methane.

Image credit: Renewable Energy World. (find the link below)

What is kelp

Kelps are large seaweeds (macroalgae) belonging to the brown algae. They grow in cold, nutrient-rich water - both northern and southern hemispheres - and are among the most beautiful and biologically productive habitats in the marine environment.

A dependence upon light for photosynthesis restricts them to clear shallow water and they are rarely much deeper than 20 to 80 feet.

Kelp potential according to SES

While talk of harnessing energy from macroalgae in the U.S. at the moment is often confused with microalgae or simply dismissed by environmentalists afraid of depleting existing wild seaweed populations, Europe seems to be more open toward cultivated kelp’s renewable possibilities.

“We are convinced there is a potential for seaweed as biomass for ethanol and biomethane. We have done cultivation technology development since 2008 and are now scaling up to 100,000 tons of seaweed production from about 170 hectares off the coast of Denmark.”
- Paal Bakken, founder and CEO of Seaweed Energy Solutions (SES)

Bakken says Sugar Kelp (laminaria saccharina) can produce about 50 liters of ethanol and 20 cubic meters of biomethane per wet tonne. Although SES has produced both ethanol and biomethane gas during testing, it has yet to commercially market any such bioenergy.

SES has a patent on its seaweed carrier, a “large sail-shaped structure” on which to cultivate large numbers of closely spaced macroalgae plants in the ocean itself. With a seaweed breeding facility in Norway, SES is currently conducting cultivation tests off the coasts of Norway, Denmark and Portugal.

Seaweed cultivation

As Bakken explains, with conventional seaweed cultivation, the plants are ready for harvest six to seven months after its spores (attached to ropes) are put out to grow at sea. These spores, in turn, typically spawn three- to four-meter long plants that normally grow from the surface down to depths of a few meters.

And unlike terrestrial crops, which are sensitive to the vagaries of the weather, seaweed is generally unperturbed by normal wind, waves and current.

TheGreenMechanics: We have palm oil in abundance in this region, and temperate countries have kelps for a common goal. The possibilities are endless.

Reference: REW

Privatisation of SESB a failure?

You have to read this and take it with a pinch of salt.

At face value, it is a serious allegation but if you read the whole article, you will begin to understand why he/she said what he/she wrote. I reproduced it from Daily Express weekend readers' submission. What do I think about it? I think we still have the most blackouts in the whole country!

Almost blackout? Full moon shot at | 200mm | f/8 | 1/25s | ISO 200 |

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Here is a reproduce of the DE reader's letter:

Privatisation of SESB a failure

I refer to the strong criticism by new Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan on SESB staff regarding the numerous blackouts.

I was witness when he was invited to launch the new SESB red uniform introduced by Datuk Baharin of TNB. Raymond was then full of praise for the SESB management for reporting to him that the SAIDI (big word for blackout data) was greatly reduced.

So, why only berate the low level staff for so-called blackouts and not reporting the real reasons for the return of more blackouts?

Why not refer to Dr. Maximus Ongkili, the Minister of Energy who made lots of promises recently.

He can also refer to the Chairman for both SESB and TNB, namely Datuk Leo Moggie or call the CEO of TNB or MD of SESB, En. Razak Salim to ask about the blackouts.

While he is talking to these top guys, he should also ask why after all the glamorous efforts in filling the walls of TNB and SESB with certificates in ISO9001, SEMS, 5S, EWRMS and hundreds of other certificates, Sabah blackouts have not changed since SESB was called SEB under the State Government?

Achieving the ISO9001 certification means that the company had standardised their processes and procedures and have achieved high qualities in products and services.

That means SESB must have the highest quality of blackouts in this country. Hence, Raymond must either choose to congratulate them on their ISO9001 success or tell them to stop wasting their time, energy and resource on this rubbish ISO in order to get rid of the blackouts.

EWRMS means a system of managing risk and if they have been certified, then they would have minimised all the risk of getting blackouts. If the blackouts have returned, then someone in TNB must be lying about their EWRMS and it is better to stop this nonsense.

The results may be only for glamour of TNB top officials to justify their datukship prospects.

The public deserve to know that before privatisation of SESB, it used to be known as Lembaga Letrik Sabah (LLS) and there was none of all the glamour activities except for SEMS which was an important safety management system. In those days, the blackouts were there but not as bad.

Hence the privatisation of LLS after more than 15 years has proven to be a total failure if everyone including BN Ministers are still condemning SESB on the blackouts.

However, BN Ministers should stop condemning the poor SESB ordinary staff and blame themselves because SESB is fully under the control of the Federal Government.

SabahLeak, ex-staff of LLS 

Daily Express, June 16, 2013, pp20.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Teck Guan launches bio-ethanol project

Being the largest producer of crude palm oil in the country, there is certainly potential for a large scale production of bio-ethanol in Sabah. And.. someone has finally taken the first step towards achieving that.

The setting up of a plant in Tawau, Sabah is a wise move by palm oil planter Teck Guan. It says that 1 metric tonne of empty fruit bunches can produce 72 litres of ethanol. Other bio-products are also possible.

Imagine how much can be tapped from the millions of biomass in the palm oil industry here!

Image credit: BEST

Bio-ethanol project in Tawau

Syarikat Teck Guan Group has started a pilot project to produce lignocellulosic bio-ethanol from oil palm biomass.

Operational Innovation, Research and Development director Douglas Furtek said the plant, construction of which began in May, is expected to be operational by month-end.

"The plant can produce 72 litres of ethanol from a metric tonne of wet empty fruit bunches, and capacity can be easily upscaled," he told Bernama, while expressing the hope that more foreign investors would be attracted to the state, the country's largest palm oil producer.

It is understood the plant, the first in the country to produce ethanol from empty fruit bunches (EFB), will contribute to the production of bio-fuels, bio-plastics and other environmentally-friendly products.

Furtek hoped more foreign investors would be attracted to the state, the country's largest palm oil producer.

Agensi Inovasi Malaysia strategic innovation executive vice president Bas Melssen said Sabah, with its abundant oil palm biomass and palm oil mills within a relatively small area, is well-positioned to benefit from biomass, more so than any other state.

"Biomas products, in the form of pellets, bio-based fuel or bio-based chemicals, can contribute RM30bil a year to the national economy and create 66,000 high-value jobs by 2020," Melssen said, adding half of these jobs would be in Sabah. - Bernama

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Solar jokes Saturday: rooftop panels

New heat-trap on your roof, Billy?

                         Image credit: US solar institute

Friday, June 14, 2013

Japan PV manufacturers turning to domestic market

In 2005, Japanese PV makers dominated global PV production — Sharp, Kyocera, Sanyo (now part of Panasonic) and Mitsubishi Electric represented about 50% of global production.

When German and other European markets expanded quickly, a great number of companies in Europe and Asia, specifically China, jumped into the “potentially” profitable PV industry. They rapidly ramped up their production and brought down costs, leaving Japanese companies behind.

But when the Japanese government decided to pump life into the lagging domestic PV market, it created a generous feed-in tariff (FIT) program. Japanese manufacturers began enjoying full access to the lucrative domestic market and started to see the improvements in their bottom lines.

Domestic Market Focus

Japanese manufacturers were export-oriented due to the better profit margin they could earn in German and other European markets. However, that trend is now over, as illustrated in the following histogram:

At 1Q’13, Japanese PV makers kept 90% of what they produced in the domestic market, compared to just about 30% at 1Q’09. Source: REW

PV Module Technology

The PV technology mix in Japan is changing. Domestic manufacturers largely produced poly-crystalline silicon (poly-si) technology, so it dominated the market. However, the Net FIT for the residential market revitalized the domestic market.

Since then, the demand for high-efficiency or mono-crystalline silicon (mono-si) modules has gained popularity among homeowners who want to maximize energy production on their space-limited roofs.

Expanding their products and services

Japan PV manufacturers are expanding their product and service offerings and strengthening their domestic networks against foreign PV markets, which now accounts for more than 30% of the domestic market.

Kyocera, Sharp and Solar Frontier have moved beyond “module only provider,” by vertically expanding into the downstream solar value chain, as an EPC contractor, project developer and independent power producer.

Solar Frontier have developed around around 100 MW worth of medium-scale PV in Japan. Last year, Kyocera joined forces with IHI Corp. and Mizuho Corporate Bank to construct one of a 70-MW PV project, the nation’s largest, in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Kyocera, Sharp and Panasonic all have started selling lithium-ion storage batteries with PV systems for the residential segment in order to offer the complete packaged solution to “create, store and control energy.”

Source: REW

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Solar cell that supplies energy and self-charge simultaneously

The reason solar power is expensive is partly due to the need for energy storage (battery). The cost of storage battery in a solar PV system is said to be as much as 40% of the total system installation cost.

So, when a group of research team from the University of Wisconsin in Madison demonstrated the viability of a design for solar panels that can generate and store energy from sunlight in a single device, it is something that many think as dream come true.

We may be able to get rid of this battery soon. Image credit:

Unlike other solar cells, apart from producing electricity, the panels would also store electrons on zinc oxide nanowires coated with polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) polymer.

The energy stored during the day could be used to run the lights at night or on cloudy days. Put simply, the panel also acts as battery.

The high dielectric characteristic of the PVDF makes it suitable for energy storage.

Although the system has only about 4% efficiency - pretty low compared about 24% efficiency of most commercial solar panels in use today - the prospect for alternative storage solution is quite promising.

More research should be done. If prices of solar panels can be reduced at great pace, advancement in finding alternative storage solutions should be no different.

"When there's no sunlight, the stored power will come back through the nano wires to power the load. We can have some energy set aside locally, right in the panel, so that when you need it, you can get it."
Hongrui Jiang, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Reference and further reading:
a) Innovative solar cell structure - UW-Madison

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Loans for home Solar PV systems

When solar rooftop FiT scheme was introduced in 2011, many prospective applicants lamented the difficulty in getting financing for the installation of home solar PV. Although cost has gone down quite substantially, price for a typical 4kWp solar PV system is RM40,000, which is still expensive.

Here comes the answer, or at least an alternative.

A couple of days back, Alliance Bank Bhd came up with Home Complete Plus-Solar Panel Financing , a scheme developed jointly with the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA). It's a kind of personal financing scheme for solar panel.

Datuk Dr. Maximus speaking during the launching. Photo credit: The Star

While not in any way trying to promote the financing scheme, here is a brief overview and features of the loan (Kudos to Alliance Bank for taking the first mover’s risk by offering financing solution for solar PV in homes):

  • Competitive interest rate for installation of Solar Panel
  • Up to 90% margin of finance
  • Monthly repayment could potentially be set-off with Feed-in Tariff payment

  • Tenure                    :  Up to 10 years
    Age requirement     :  21 - 55 years of age
    Minimum income    :  RM3,000 per month
    Loan limit               :  Up to RM150k
    Interest calculation :  Term loan, Reducing balance

    Financing type       :   Single borrower only
                                    No collateral or guarantor needed
                                    Landed property owner only

    "I have been informed by SEDA Malaysia that for now, most of the houses which have solar PV systems installed and are able to benefit from the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme are those where the majority of the financing comes from house owners."
    Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili during the launching.

    Other than Alliance Bank, SEDA is currently in talks with Bank Negara on approaching another three banks, mostly local, to participate in the scheme.

    Read more at The SunDaily
    Find out more about the financing at Alliance Bank

    MCMC must monitor hidden charges by Telcos

    What you notice and hear everyday are lucrative offers from the telecommunications service providers. They claim to have the lowest rates and 'best' coverage in the country, but still you hear a lot of disgruntled customers. Why?

    Image credit:

    According to NCCC, consumers were not clearly informed of the hidden charges and when they demanded explanation, they were given unsatisfactory answers most of the time. Telcos only addressed the issues once NCCC took them to task.

    "We receive between 10 and 15 complaints against telcos daily and most of them are unsubscribed charges, lack of coverage, dropped calls and high data-roaming charges."- National Consumer Complaints Centre (NCCC) deputy director Ravin Karunanidhi

    Telcos silent on hidden charges?
    The Star, June 10, 2013

    The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has been urged to monitor local telecommunications companies which allegedly made hidden charges to postpaid and prepaid users.

    Deputy president of Malaysian Consumers Protection and Welfare Board Dr Lee Nan Sang said as a result, users had to pay a high price, including hidden charges when they did not get good service.

    "We have received complaints of bad service (low coverage) for use of the internet, but users have to pay bills monthly.

    "When signing up during promotions by telecommunications companies, consumers must ensure that the service received is the same as stated in the contract.

    "Coverage should not drop less than one week after signing the contract," he told a press conference here Monday.

    Lee said that, on average, the board received about 30 written and verbal complaints on the issue from February until early June.

    MCMC should also take serious view of personal data protection because third party knew the number of phone users and send SMS promising great prizes.

    "How can a third party get the number and send SMS to users? Some users complained of receiving five to ten SMS from different people daily," he added. - Bernama

    Sunday, June 9, 2013

    Apple is throttling iPhone data speed?

    If you are iPhone user, there is reason for you to be concerned about - report says that Apple is collaborating with 3 major carriers in the US to "soft throttle" data speeds for iPhone in their networks.

    Although the throttling is not to a point where users experience 'crawling' speed, iPhone users are said to be losing out to Samsung Galaxy users in terms of true potential of the device.

    “I’m not saying the throttling is a typical throttle where you see 2G speeds. It's a soft throttle to slow users down a bit.”
    - Joseph Brown, a well known iPhone hacker.

    I hope this is nothing more than a mere allegation.

    If that happen in Malaysia and iPhone's true potential is purposely manipulated to "even it out" with the telcos' capability, I will seriously consider switching to Android.

    How about a download speed of 28.6 Mbps such as this one? I'm drooling.

    iPhone Data Speed Throttling? Say It Ain’t So, Apple!

    Is Apple  throttling your iPhone’s true data speed?

    Joseph Brown, who is probably best-known for previously creating several iPhone carrier hacks, posted the details of his discovery on the iTweakiOS site. Via Cult of Mac, Brown states, “Apple and the carriers have implanted coding to purposely slow down or limit the data speeds the device can achieve… iPhones are very complex devices with a very complex OS.

    The OS eats much more data, even when in idle mode, than most phones on the market. So by carrier request, Apple limits devices to ‘even out’ the network, even if it means Galaxy users outperform Apple devices by such large scales.”

    Brown notes that the throttling code is found in both iPhones and iPads on AT&T’s network. Verizon throttles data speeds for Apple’s mobile devices on its 4G LTE network. Verizon and Sprint both slow down data speeds on their 3G networks, although their data throttling can be circumvented with a hack.

    However, Sprint does not appear to throttle data speeds on its high-speed network. T-Mobile might be the best option for Apple device users, since it appears to do the least throttling of any carrier.

    Brown posted screenshots of iOS code from an AT&T iPhone 5 that demonstrates how the network speed settings are switched from 21.1 Mbps to14.4 Mbps, despite the fact that AT&T’s network and the iPhone 5 support speeds as high as 21.1 Mbps.

    Via his Twitter account, Brown points out, “I’m not saying the throttling is a typical throttle where you see 2G speeds. It's a soft throttle to slow users down a bit.”

    Further reading at: WSCS and iphonefaq. There are interesting debates there on the allegation.

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    First woman in space ready for 'one-way flight to Mars'

    When you've achieved everything you've wanted in life, you'd stop at nothing to fulfill 'self-actualisation' in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Not even death will get in your way.

    This seems to be what Russia's Valentina Tereshkova is doing: she's ready to make a risky trip to Mars and is prepared to accept the possibility that she may not be coming back to earth in one piece.

    First woman in space ready for 'one-way flight to Mars'

    Risky trip to the Red Planet

    Russia's Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to go to space, said on Friday she was ready to score another coup and fly to Mars, even if it would be just a one-way trip.

    "Mars is my favourite planet," the 76-year old told a news conference in Zvyozdny Gorodok (Star City) outside Moscow, home to a cosmonaut training centre.

    Tereshkova, who became a national heroine at the tender age of 26 when she made a solo space flight in 1963, said she had been part of the group who studied the possibility of going to the Red Planet.

    "But we know the human limits. And for us this remains a dream. Most likely the first flight will be one way. But I am ready," she said.

    Under the call sign Chaika (Seagull), Tereshkova during her three-day mission circled the Earth 48 times, her flight becoming a major propaganda coup for the Soviet Union.

    On June 16, Russia will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tereshkova's historic flight.

    In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to go to space.

    Source - AFP

    World's first 3-in-1 mobile device: ASUS Transformer Book Trio

    When I travel, I always have trouble deciding which gadget or mobile device to bring with me, especially if the bulky DSLR is also in the haul.

    So, for a short trips I will just bring the iPad along with me and leave the heavier laptop at home. But for a lengthy family trips the bulky laptop tags along with us.

    This should be a thing of the past with the launching of ASUS Transformer Book Trio, announced in Taipei on June 3rd, during COMPUTEX 2013. We can now bring along not two, but three mobile devices together - Tablet, Laptop and Desktop PC.

    How about that for convenience?

    Transform me! The Transformer Book Trio can switch between Android tablet and Windows 8 desktop PC environments seamlessly.

    The chameleon's transforming from laptop to tablet

    It has a physical hotkey to allow user to switch between OSs

    World's first 3-in-1 mobile device

    One word: Innovation. ASUS innovated a means to combine tablet, notebook/laptop and desktop PC in a single product, the  Transformer Book Trio, so that you can work, play, and do social activities with flexibility.

    The Transformer Book Trio tablet which runs on Google Android features an 11.6-inch screen with 1920x1080 pixel resolution and the detachable hybrid design runs on both Android and Windows 8, which means it uses two Operating Systems.

    There is a physical hotkey to allow you to switch between the OSs. However, that hotkey will only work if you have the tablet latched into the keyboard dock; once you unplug the tablet it will only run Android Jelly Bean.

    Specifications of the Transformer Book Trio

    Special features          : Three-in-one - Tablet, Laptop and desktop PC
    Display                        : 11.6-inch
    Display Resolution      : 1920 x 1080 pixel
    Weight                        : varies according to mode
    Operating Systems      : Android Jelly Bean, Windows 8

    Processors                  : 2.0GHz Intel® Atom™ (for Tablet) & 4th gen Intel® Core™ i7-4500U (for PC)
    Storage                      : 64GB (on Tablet) and 750GB harddrive (on desktop PC)

    Interface                     : 2 x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Wireless Display (WiDi)
    Battery Capacity         : 2 batteries - 33,000mWh and 19,000mAh
    Other features            : PC Dock station also serves as a charger to the Android tablet.

    Announced                  : 3 June 2013
    Availability                  : 3Q of 2013


    It is expected to be sold for at least $1,345 (approx RM4,162) although no official pricing yet from Asus.

    What do you think? Will you replace your Tablet, Laptop and Desktop PC with a single device that perform the same tasks?

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Can we replace all fluorescent bulbs with LED, soon?

    Presently, there is already LED version of the long soft glowing tubes found in most offices and homes. But these LED tubes are very expensive and are not widely used.

    What Phillips is doing is to develop an LED light that will be "far more efficient than the best fluorescents on the market. Greener and cheaper."

    : :       : :       : :       : :       : :       : :       : : 

    Prototype of a new tube LED light developed by the Phillips that is capable of generating 200 lumens of white light per watt. AP Photo/Phillips

    Goodbye fluorescent bulb? Philips says yes

    Top executive at Dutch company Phillips said the prototype LED is headed to mass production and will hit the market in 2015. He claimed that in 10 years, LEDs will replace at least half of the world's fluorescent bulbs, which have been the main source of workplace lighting since shortly after World War II.

    "This is a major step forward for the lighting world. It will bring an enormous savings in energy."- Rene van Schooten, CEO of Philips' light sources division.

    Experts outside the Dutch company say they have long expected LEDs to eclipse fluorescents. If Philips' predictions are correct, however, the arrival of the LED in office spaces will come faster than expected.

    Huge potential of LED tubes

    Lights suck up more than 15% of all energy produced globally, and fluorescent lights currently make up more than half of the total lighting market.

    In the United States alone, fluorescents consume about 200 terawatts annually, according to Philips' estimates. Cutting that in half would save $12 billion in electricity costs and lessen carbon dioxide emissions by 60 million metric tons per year, the company said.

    The technical milestone the company claims to have achieved is the ability to produce 200 lumens of light per watt. That's about twice the output per watt of the best fluorescent tubes currently on the market.

    A lumen is the standard measure of the amount of light a lamp casts in a given area.

    "LEDs will take over, definitely within 10 years, certainly within 5 years, maybe within three." - Rene van Schooten.

    Source: Yahoo News

    Calculation of the 1% levy for Renewable Energy fund

    A TNB customer who sent his inquiry to the utility company shared this on FB and I thought it would be  a good read. The explanation is plain and simple for the masses.

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    Imposition of 1% levy (clarification by TNB Careline)

    Pleased to be informed, in line with the Renewable Energy (RE) Act which was passed in April 2011, the Government will impose 1% as Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) for RE Fund, effective 1st December 2011.

    The fund will be utilized for promotion and development of RE projects and initiatives and will be managed by Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) under the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water.

    However, customers who consume 300 units (kWh) of electricity or less each month will not have their tariffs raised to pay to the Renewable Energy Fund. TNB's role only as an executor to implement government initiatives as the fund collecting agent, according to the Act.

    For further information regarding FiT / Subsidi Bahan Api Kerajaaan Persekutuan / RE, please visit the authority's website at

    According to bill, government charge 1% "levy" (Kumpulan Wang Tenaga Boleh Baharu/ KWTBB) from the total consumption every month as illustrated below:

    Example of calculation for KWTBB

    KWTBB = 1% × [bill – discount] 

    bill - current month bill
    discount - the given discount, if any

    Thus, for a TNB bill of RM1,026.84 in April 2013, the charges is

    KWTBB = RM1,026.84 x 1% = RM 10.27

    Total payable = RM1,037.11

    Note: At the moment, the 1% levy is only imposed in Peninsula Malaysia. SEDA is still waiting for an official letter from Sabah state government to enable it to collect the charges from consumers there. 

    No news about the levy yet in Sarawak.

    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Immaculate Lojuki is Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2013 (Pictures)

    The state level 2013 Kaamatan Festival have just been concluded and the dust has settled a bit now, so, I'll make a considerably image-packed update of the Unduk Ngadau competition held at Hongkod Koisaan KDCA on May 31.

    If you've been wondering why the monotonous hairstyle, I can only answer that, it's a pre-requisite (Note: make-up artists are actually free to style the contestants' hair into something other than the 'gong' style. See comment below). You can watch them in free hairstyling at Sodop Unduk Ngadau 2013

    Again, less talk here. Just pics:-

    Some of the 40 participants

    Ms Rayana Raymund in Ethnic Murut attire from Pagalungan

    Kadazan attire donned by Ms Immaculate representing Kota Kinabalu

    Attire of ethnic Rungus by Ms Iziana Midung representing Matunggong

    Ethnic Dusun attire from Kota Belud

     Second attempt by Ms Ladesma Steven, this time representing Klang Valley

     Another Kadazan attire by Putatan representative, Ms Diana Gilbert

     UNK Tuaran and UNK Kota Kinabalu waiting anxiously

     Kota Kinabalu's  Immaculate react as her name was announced as the 2013 Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan (UNK)

     Top 7 winners

    Ms Immaculate Lojuki (seated) flanked by 1st Runner Up, Ms Ritchel Andreas (L)
    and 2nd Runner Up, Ms Nillsey D Sening (R)

    Congratulation, UNK 2013, Ms Immaculate Lojuki

    All pictures are copyrighted and if you'd like to borrow them for use in your website, kindly ask for permission from TheGreenMechanics.

    See you in UNK 2014 event!