Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Germany to continue with the Residential Energy Storage Subsidies

In November, the German government decided to end a 30% credit for energy storage systems by the end of this year. But the subsidy will now continue in some form. Currently, state assistance also includes low-interest loans, in addition to the credit.

Planned cuts to energy storage subsidies in Germany have been reversed, for now. Illustration by Powerwise-energy

The subsidy has been instrumental in fueling uptake of battery storage, from almost nothing two years ago, to as many as an estimated 13,000 units in total by the end of this year.

The subsidy, which is provided by the federal government via the German state-owned development bank KfW, was originally created in May 2013 to encourage the uptake of solar-plus-storage.

According to the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, that goal had been met. The subsidy was so successful, argued the ministry, that it was no longer needed. 

Why the sudden change of heart

Some motivational factors behind the reversal of decision:
  • After  a final rush to install systems at the end of the year, growth in the home storage market would diminish by 13% in 2016. It was predicted that the market would worsen in 2017.

  • The negative impact on the domestic solar industry. Feed-in tariffs for new installations have already been slashed, making the home-consumption model of storing excess solar electricity a more attractive model for new solar adopters. 

  • Without the 30% credit and cheap loans, customers may think twice before investing in any form of solar.

Although still a minor factor in the overall storage picture in Germany, domestic units have large aggregate potential.

"If all suitable households get a solar system and a battery, the storage capacity will exceed the capacity of all existing pumped storage power plants in Germany."  - Dr. Volker Quaschning,  University of Applied Sciences for Engineering and Economics, Berlin.

Obstacles for large-scale storage in Germany

Currently, just under 14% of all new PV installations include storage.

Grid-scale storage is considered a consumer of electricity, meaning that both the storage operator and the subsequent consumer have to pay the country's EEG-Umlage, a renewable energy surcharge. In effect, the energy gets taxed twice!

The Green Mechanics:
Energy storage is no big deal in our country, or at least not yet a significant topic to talk about during energy meetings. But, the notion that we are about to discontinue the Feed-in Tariff mechanism for solar PV - possibly in a year's time - shows that we are not a contender for RE front runners in SEA region.

- Reference: GreenTechMedia

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015 - from The Green Mechanics

"May the splendor and beauty of this season remind you of the One who is worthy of all our praise."

Scene from Grange Road, Singapore, captured on 27th December 2013 @de engineur

Merry Christmas!

The Green Mechanics™
December 2015
Kota Kinabalu

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ford is UK's most trusted brand - And it's time Malaysia take note

According to The Malaysian Reserve, almost one-third of respondents surveyed in the UK put their trust in one of United States' household brand - Ford.

The Malaysian Reserve | December 9, 2015

Not too long ago my wife and I went looking for a sedan and considered Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Ford in our shopping list.

At that point in time Toyota and Honda seemed pretty comfortable with their commanding share of the international brand market in Malaysia, that they choosed to continue milking Malaysians of their hard earned money by offering bare-to-the-bone cars. 

While Korean cars were already offering push-start button, reverse camera, navigational display, etc, as standard goodies, the T and H were adamant that consumers don't need all these 'nonsense'. They eventually  offered similar accessories, but still it took them a year or so to respond.

Next best thing then was Ford. Models within reach - Focus and Fiesta - were both better equipped and we nearly bought one if not for the lack of choices and the lingering issues of after-sale service and spare parts availability. Local brand carrier for Ford may have done  some improvement now but you can still hear people talking about such issues. 

Hard to get replacement parts. On the one hand, this could be pure rumour mongering by rival brands, but  on  other the other hand, the brand carrier may have actually made amend. [Personally, I don't like to hear Sales Advisor of one brand badmouthing another, no matter how reputable a brand he represents. He maybe telling the facts, but I'd take his 'advice' with a pinch of salt].

Today if you take to the road and observe what cars are driven around you, you'd mostly see locally produced cars, followed by Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, with some European and American cars in the mix.

Chevrolet have been making quite an appearance of late, so, Ford with its long existence here should take note. In Sabah, Ford Ranger, Fiesta and Focus are quite a familiar look, not to mention the relatively new crossovers such as Kuga and EcoSport. 

In Malaysia, Sime Darby Motors represent BMW, MINI, Hyundai, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, to name a few. 

With so many brands under its belt, there are chances that some would get 'left behind'. Sime Darby had better be up to the expectations if they want consumers to put trust in this brand.

A Contractor friend of mine recently bought a Ford Ranger as his workhorse and when asked why he changed from Toyota to Ford, he simply said he wanted to 'try out the American brand and figure out how reliable the truck is'. Hmm, perhaps a thumb up here for Ford, although it still has a long way to go in terms of matching Toyota's market share.

The Green Mechanics: 
No doubt, Ford is a reputable automobile brand that can be trusted. It is all down to the brand carrier (Sime Darby) to play its part convincing the Malaysian consumers.

Monday, June 29, 2015

ENGINEER'S RUN 2015 is in September

To all healthy-minded people out there, here is where you can train and get rewarded at the same time. Not to mention the not-immediately-seen benefit of good health you stand to gain.

Let's join the Engineer's Run 2015 in September.

Open to everyone, it's divided into 4 categories and you can register for either the full distance of 13KM or the shorter run of 6KM:

  • Men's Open (10yr old - 44yr old)
  • Men's Veteran (45yr old & above)
  • Women's Open (10yr old - 44yr old)
  • Women's Veteran (45yr old & above)

Not bad. Going up the Signal hill and run through the city centre.

Click to enlarge the Form. You can print it out or alternatively contact: a) IEM Sabah @Damai - 088259122 (Ms Wendy), b) Performance Sportz @Likas Driving Range - 088212268 (Mr. Rudy/Ms Marjie)

TheGreenMechanics: Come on engineers, join in. Or, at the least do your bit by spreading the news.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

LED market share in Thailand to reach 70% by 2020

LED lighting technology has improved so much that the initial worry of low power factor and that brands incompatibility issues 'would' have been taken cared of by now.

The fact that many countries have adopted the use of LED lightings for illuminating public places as well as privately owned properties, means that this type of lighting has good acceptance from the masses. This should be good enough reason for LED-base lighting  prices to have gone down drastically sooner than later.

Malaysian companies took part at the LED Expo Thailand in Bangkok -Photo: Facebook/LED Expo Thailand.

Malaysia's MATRADE said that the LED lighting penetration rate in the Thailand market has reached an estimated 10 % to 15%, whereas in Malaysia very little can be said about adoption of this energy efficient lighting.

I am now wondering if Malaysia's LED streetlights by 2014 pledge was a genuine goal or just a statement of intent. Has any action been taken on the plan 'to roll out the budget on the installation of LED lights nationwide?' 

As reported by Bernama here, it seems that we have to venture abroad to market our LED products.


Malaysian firms rake in RM37.1mil sales at Bangkok LED Expo

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian light-emitting diode (LED) products and solutions raked in sales of RM37.1 million from Thai buyers at the LED Expo Thailand 2015.

A Specialised Marketing Mission (SMM) spearheaded by MATRADE was in Bangkok for three days from May 20 in conjunction with the expo.

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) Bangkok Trade Commissioner Niqman Rafaee Mohd Sahar said the LED lighting penetration rate in the Thailand market has reached an estimated 10 to 15 percent.

"The LED market share for Thailand is expected to reach 70 per cent by 2020," he said in a statement issued here today.

Thirteen Malaysian companies participated in the SMM, while seven other Malaysian firms took part as individual exhibitors at the expo, where 208 business meetings arranged for Malaysian companies with Thai government officials, traders, distributors, manufacturers and top retailers.

- Source: Bernama | June 6, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ryannie Neils Yong is State-level 2015 Kaamatan UNDUK NGADAU

This is the second consecutive year that I was unable to make myself available for shooting the colourful, beautiful closing ceremony of the month-long Kaamatan festival. Not that I don't support it nor that I've lost my passion for photography. I was away from home during both occasions.

The last time I 'squeezed' myself in to shoot was in 2013 when Immaculate Lojuki was crowned Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan. Great experience.

What I can share with you today is the result published by the local dailies immediately after the event.

The Borneo Post, June 1, 2015

Ryannie Neils Yong (seated middle in the pic) representing Tanjung Aru - donning the Tambunan traditional costumes  - was crowned winner of the State-level 2015 Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan. She took home RM6,000 in cash, a trophy and a crown, RM25,000 worth of scholarship from ATI, air tickets to London and Melbourne, 4D/3N Bali trip and a designer handbag.

Harian Express, June 1, 2015 (Bahasa Malaysia section of the Daily Express)

Daily Express, June 1, 2015

Full list of winners:-

Top 7 at the Unduk Ngadau (UN) final:

1. Ryannie Neils Yong  (Tanjung Aru) - Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan 2015
2. Shirley Anthony Danggok (Tambunan) - 1st runner-up
3. Evrina Masalan (Tenom) - 2nd runner-up
4. Valencia Ann Primus (Kota Kinabalu) - 4th place
5. Natasha Aprillia Benggon (Inanam) - 5th place
6. Sherrylyn Jane Rannytho (Putatan) - 6th place
7. Kimberly Vung (Likas) - 7th place

Other titles:

Miss Popular Altel - Sherrylyn Jane Rannytho (Putatan)
Tati Topiodo (Miss Natural Beauty) - Kerinah Mah (Pitas)
Tati Tosuau (Miss Friendly) - Natasha Apprillia Jalius S Benggon (Inanam)
Miss Conservation WWF - Olga Willnelia Nasib (Paitan)

The Green Mechanics two cents:

It is good that contestants took note of the Organising Committee's emphasis on choosing this year's Unduk Ngadau "that would not only be the best embodiment of Huminodun but should also have an in-depth grasp of the origins of their ethnicity and heritage", in their efforts to win the vote of the judges.

I like the winner's back-to-basic approach in her costume selection.

See you on May 31 next year, hopefully.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Solar loans spur Solar PV boom in Japan

Japan is one of the world's largest residential PV markets in terms of cumulative installations. They   achieved with just two PV financing options: cash and loans. They have not yet offered leasing or power purchase agreements, which are common in the U.S.

Credit: Nango Credit Union

One of the largest residential solar PV installers in Japan said that about 40% of their customers buy PV systems with cash and the remaining 60% use solar loans.

The average purchase cost of a system of 3-4 kWp is approximately ¥1.5 million or US$12,600 (approximately RM44,700) and for those who don’t have enough cash, the company offers solar loans through three consumer credit financing companies. All three of them offer 10-year or 15-year unsecured loans with low, fixed interest rates.

Most of the PV module makers in Japan also offer solar loans for consumers who purchase their solar systems via their designated installers. This provides a convenient, one-stop shop for consumers — from system purchase, financing, design, installation, and warranty.

PV installers make patnership arrangement with national consumer credit companies to offer solar loan program with low interest rates to customers.

Low interest rate for solar loans in Japan

Banks currently offer solar loans with interest rates of approximately 2%, requiring no office visit, no down payment, and no collateral. One of the reasons why solar customers get easy and low-interest-rate loans is because of the net feed-in tariff (FIT) policy currently in place in Japan.

Japanese residential PV owners can sell any excess generated electricity at a premium rate - around ¥38/kWh (approximately RM1.136/kWh) - for a period of 10 years to their regional utilities. With the net FIT, homeowners can generate income, which can offset monthly solar loan payments, either in part or in full.

Thanks to the generous FIT, PV homeowners will end up having less monthly out-of-pocket expenses than pre-PV installations, even with the solar loan.

Shizuoka prefecture represents No. 4 in the nation in terms of cumulatively installed capacity of residential PV systems. Shizuoka prefecture is blessed with great solar insolation. For example, Omaezaki city has the highest solar radiation in Japan, with 2,497 sun-available hours a year.

Cumulative residential PV installed capacity. 

A case in point -- Shizuoka Bank, one of the largest local banks, provides solar loans combined with performance guarantees and disaster insurance for local homeowners. The maximum loan amount the bank offers is ¥10 million (approximately US$83,500) for up to 15 years and the bank requires no collateral from borrowers.

Currently, the banks offers a variable interest rate of 2.20% exclusively for solar customers via on-line applications.

Performance guarantee

These are few example of good support from the financial institutions and other utilities in Japan:-

1. Under its performance guarantees, Shizuoka Bank will reimburse up to ¥50,000 per year for three years in the even solar insolation falls below what it was originally forecasted. If a home with solar loan gets damaged by earthquakes or typhoons, the bank will provide up to ¥300,000 of solarium for damages.

2. Nango Credit Union, small regional credit union in Nichian city in Miyazaki prefecture, offers Eco-Solar Loans to residents in Nichian city and two other neighboring cities. The credit union currently offers 15-year solar loans with a 1.50% fixed interest rate.

3. Osaka Gas Company, a regional gas utility in the Kinki area, offers 15-year solar loan with a fixed rate of 2.35%, with no down payment, under the name “With Gas & Solar Loan” for its residential gas customers.

The Green Mechanics:
When Malaysia phases out the generous FiT in a couple of year's time (if not sooner), this may be a good example of how to keep the solar PV industry momentum going.

-- Further reading and reference: RE Magazine

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Picture this: A camera that is powered by its own photos

It's interesting and perhaps hard to imagine that this is actually true. The clip below was shot using a self-powered camera and yes, the quality is somewhat 'stone age'. But hey, no battery's included.

Researchers at Columbia University captured a video of a person using the self-powered camera.

No battery or power: How did they do it?

It works on the principle of turning light into electricity. Remember solar PV? They make use of photodiodes, which are common in both cameras and solar panels, that are permanently set to collect energy, not simply conduct it.

"The camera uses a supercap rather than an external source as its power supply. For a scene that is around 300 lux in brightness, the voltage across the supercap remains well above the minimum needed for the camera to indefinitely produce an image per second." - Columbia University 

Will it replace your energy-hungry DSLR? It's a long shot.

As you can see from the blurry animation above, the existing technology won't compete with the camera in your phone, let alone a pro DSLR. Columbia's prototype captures just 1,200 black-and-white pixels, and it needs a lot of light just to keep running.

Even so, it's promising. If scientists can refine the technology to work at multi-megapixel levels, you could see cameras that last a long time on battery, and might not need a battery at all.

How long before this prototype enters the mainstream photography industry is left to be known.

- Source: Dept. of Computer Science, Columbia University 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Global solar PV market hit cumulative 177GW in 2014

Worldwide installations of solar PV are now producing more than 1% of the global electricity use.

According to greentechsolar, by the end of 2014, cumulative installed capacity for solar PV globally amount to at least 177 GW, up from nearly 140 GW in 2013. This is about 10 times more than the installed capacity in 2008.

Source: International Energy Agency's Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme, IEA PVPS

Global solar PV market continues to grow, but last year's performance didn't quite meet expectations. Preliminary data shows that global PV market saw only a modest increase year over year - from an increase of  37.6GW in 2013 to 38.7GW in 2014.

The market in Europe decreased significantly, while in China, the solar PV market saw significant growth although it did not hit the 14GW target some believed it could have reached.

Modest global PV expansion

This year, China's National Energy Administration announced the country plans to install as much as 17.8GW of solar projects in 2015. The world's largest polluter has also put a new policy focus on distributed solar and innovative financing tools to help meet its goals.

Top three in terms of new solar installations (2014):
  • China - 10.9 GW
  • Japan - 9.7 GW
  • United States - 6.2 GW

There are 19 countries that currently produce at least 1% of their electricity from solar PV, with top spots helmed by:
  • Italy - 7.92%
  • Greece - 7.6%
  • Germany- 7.0%
Note: The IEA calculated production figures based on each country's cumulative PV capacity at the end of 2014, project siting and average weather conditions.

PV development in 2014 remained concentrated in 40 countries. Source: IEA PVPS

The Green Mechanics: All these reports and signs indicate the global PV market will continue on an upward trend for years to come. Exactly how much growth and where it will take place is less certain though. Still, this should be an encouraging piece of report.

- Reference: Greentech Media 

Friday, April 3, 2015

8 out of 10 Malaysian consumers have no qualms’ in switching telcos

We just did it - switching from Maxis to DiGi.

The reason: Poor mobile broadband services. Maxis broadband is very good - and speedy - in the city area, especially where LTE (4G) service is available. But in our particular case, Maxis broadband quality has gone from good to bad. This is true for all of our areas of interest -- Kolopis & Inobong areas in Penampang and Ketiau area in Putatan.

This is their reply after more than a week from the date of complaint, but the 3G issues remain. 

We lodged several complaint over the past year or so and every time we were assured that they will take remedial actions. Things have not improved though. Some of my complaints are:
  • Loss of signal/communication during power outage,
  • Intermittent loss of signal, 'No Service' during the day
  • No 3G broadband service (only E or GPRS is indicated on the mobile phone)
I currently subscribe to Celcom, DiGi and still have 1 non-contract subscription with Maxis SurfMore75 which I'm contemplating of getting rid of.

Frost & Sullivan survey confirm consumer perception

Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan said that 83% of Malaysian consumers will be driven to switch telco providers if there is a lack of transparency in Malaysian pricing and subscription plans.

According to an online survey conducted from October to November 2014 of 1,300 respondents, randomly selected from consumer online panels in Malaysia, 66% of respondents surveyed also demand for higher speed connectivity and they have no qualms ending their subscription from the current service provider due to low speed. 

The lack of customer experience from telecom service providers is the fourth highest reason at 58% for Malaysians to stop their subscription.

Based on data, Celcom is ahead of the industry average (57%) at 66% in terms of customer loyalty. When asked if they would recommend their current telecommunication service provider to their friends and colleagues, U Mobile is the clear winner with 65%, which is higher than the industry average of 51%.

Malaysian telecommunication service providers' customer rewards program leave much to be desired. More than one-third of the consumers reported not receiving any rewards from their service providers, and even among those who did, almost half get a celebratory token on their special days, which could be considered a bare minimum by the consumers.

Service providers ranking

Below are the Malaysian telecommunication service providers that have been recognised in Excellence in Customer Experience Management, Telecommunications Industry by their customers based on a survey conducted by Frost & Sullivan.

Overall Experience - U Mobile
In Store Experience - Maxis Communications
Self-Service/Online Experience - Telekom Malaysia
Contact Centre Experience - U Mobile / Maxis Communications
Mobile Experience - U Mobile 
Net Promoter Score - U Mobile 

- refer to Frost & Sullivan report at Computerworld Malaysia

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Solar PV Leases available for 6 million EU homes

This looks like an interesting business model for entrepreneurs and venture capitalist.

If the growth and prices of solar panels are in check, and the government have a clear long term policy on RE development, leasing one's roof for installation of solar PV may be viable. Look at what EU did in that part of the world:

Solar leasing for home with no upfront costs, anyone? Image credit: MSS Powertech

Joint effort by different craft specialists

European municipal utility network Trianel GmbH and Conergy launched a partnership that enables municipal utilities in the Trianel network to offer solar leasing for homes with no upfront costs. Under the terms of the agreement, Conergy will design, install and maintain solar installations tailored for each customer.

Trianel is a network bringing together municipal electric utilities that develops new business models to support their independence and competitiveness. Its 100-plus shareholders supply a combined 6 million homes in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

“Services such as Trianel’s ‘EnergieDach’ follow a trend that will boost solar installations in the residential segment.” - Anke Johannes, CEO at Conergy Deutschland GmbH

Trianel’s “EnergieDach” service enables municipal utilities to install residential PV systems at no cost to homeowners. The utility undertakes the initial investment, set up, and operational management of the system. 

The customer, as system operator and leaseholder, uses the electricity generated for their own consumption. Tests in Heidelberg, Germany demonstrated that customers should save as much as €9,000 (US $13,000) over the 25-year term of the lease, with the option to buy additional electricity at preferential rates.

The Green Mechanics' two cents

The quota for the individual Solar PV installation - also called rooftop solar PV in Malaysia - is available for a longer period of time compared the non-individual (utility scale) quota. This is partly due to the apparent lack of awareness on the benefits, particularly in Sabah. It is understood that individual quota in Peninsula Malaysia is snapped up as soon as they become available.

When we have ran out of quota under the FiT system, and as prices of solar PV components become more competitive, we could perhaps give solar PV leasing a go.

Reference: REW Magazine | Mar/Apr 2015 Issue 18

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

GST rates of other countries and Malaysia's compared

IThe final countdown is on. By April 1, 2015 we will join the 90% of the world's population to 'enjoy' the much debated Good and Services Tax.

The concept of GST (Goods and Services Tax) - not to be mistaken for the current Government Sales and Service Tax, GST - was invented by a French tax official in the 1950s. In some countries it is known as VAT, or Value-Added Tax.

Today, more than 160 nations, including the European Union and Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Singapore and China practice this form of taxation. Roughly 90% of the world's population live in countries with VAT or GST.

Here are some of the tax rates of countries around the world who have implement GST or VAT:

Table 1: Selected nations around Malaysia and other Commonwealth countries.

Do I agree with implementation of GST in Malaysia?

It doesn't matter. Really. What I agree or disagree is not important; it is going to happen regardless.

I have this to say though:-

To the people who manage the tax money we pay: Just be prudent, transparent with the expenses. Put the money to good use. 

To fellow consumers: If you think tax is bad, then you should also be against the current taxation system, especially individual tax. No one want to pay tax, right. Me included.

But since it is legal requirement, we might as well share the burden. All of us

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge will change how we use mobile devices?

This phone (phablet if you like) offers essentially the same features as the Galaxy Note 4, but distinguishes itself with an extra curved strip of touchscreen on the side.

With this 160 pixel of 'edge' screen, you can customise buttons to make it the notification centre when you are doing something else on the main 5.6-inch display. Samsung said the phone will change how users interact with mobile devices and applications. This, in my opinion, is left to be seen.

The phablet looks big in the hands of most of us. Image: Computerworld Malaysia

The new phone is retailed at RM2,999 which is a bit expensive for a transitional mobile device.

Would you grab one? Or, do you prefer your current Galaxy S5, Note 4, or iPhone6?

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. Your cup of tea?

Galaxy Note Edge: Specifications

  • 2.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 32GB / 54GB storage + up to 64GB microSD
  • 5.6-inch display: Super AMOLED, 2560 x 1440 resolution (with additional display of 160 pixel)
  • 16MP rear camera (Auto focus, Optical Image Stabilization)
  • 3.7MP front camera (f1.9)
  • Supports WiFi 802.11ac, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, IR LED, 4G LTE Cat 4 + 4G LTE Cat 6
  • Dimension: 151.3 x 82.4 x 8.3mm
  • Weight: 174g
  • Android 4.4 KitKat
  • 3000 mAh battery (adaptive fast charging)

Other features: Air Command, S Note, Snap Note, Direct Pen input, Multi Window, Ultra Power Saving Mode, Voice Recorder, Heart rate sensor, Finger print scanner, UV sensor

What you can do with it differently:

  • access apps with full, split or pop-up screens, 
  • change apps size and position with one easy swipe,
  • skip music, pause videos and control other apps using the Curved Edge display,
  • keep your notifications and alerts neatly organised on the curved side,
  • 'supposedly' incoming calls, texts and emails no longer get in the way,
  • design your own Edge Screen and express yourself by using your favourite images and phrases,
  • arrange your main app icons aligned to the side so you can leave the rest of your home screen clutter free.

Availability & Price

Available now in 'Charcoal Black' and 'Frost White' at all Samsung Experience Stores and Samsung authorised retailers.

Retail price: RM2,999 (US$825).

TheGreenMechanics: Doesn't look like a phone that fits my bills, but others may find this interesting and one that suits their need. Verdict: The price is too prohibitive.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Karambunai Lagoon Park - perfect for large group outing.

The Lagoon Park is located at Mengkabong river front, on the edge of Karambunai Peninsula and is just 5 minutes away from Karambunai Nexus Resort & Spa. It is owned and managed by the resort.

For Nexus resort guests, entrance is free. For non-guest, fees of RM10 (adult) and RM5 (child) are applicable which is fair and pretty affordable.

As mentioned in the title, the park occupies a large usable area and is suitable for family day, group outing ans seminar as is can accommodate 500 visitors easily.

Depending on weather condition, you can enjoy all of the recreational activities offered, such as:

Motorised -
  • parasailing
  • banana boat ride
  • wake boarding
  • water skiing
  • jet skiing
  • knee boarding
  • boat ride
  • fun fishing trip
  • sunset/firefly cruise

Non-motorised -
  • kayak
  • volley ball
  • pottery painting
  • batik painting
  • archery
  • etc.
Of course, you can bring your own props and tools once you get permission from the resort.

Open-type multi purpose hall.

Play chess with your friend, on a huge 'battleground'

Not bad a location for landscape photography session.

'Frame your shot...and, fire away'

Take the jet ski for that adrenaline-filled ride...

...or take a dip and play water polo (I'll call this wet volleyball)

Need some instructions while stretching? Not to worry, they have plenty.

On the other side of the lagoon you can see some excess gas burning (not part of the park).

The popular Kokol hill (your gateway to Kasih Sayang Resort) is on the background. Note the prominent tele-com antenna overlooking Menggatal and Kota Kinabalu.

More pictures of Karambunai Lagoon Park here.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Switch to LED lamps, save 90% of energy...

Ok, 90% may look a lot and you thought that 'it's too good to be true'.

While you can't be blamed for thinking it's a total bull*, there is truth to it. A 100W incandescent lamp can be replaced by a 20W compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) of an equal luminosity. Today's technology can offer a LED lamp equivalent of 10W to 12W power consumption.

So, comparing to incandescent lamps, switching to LED saves you about 88% to 90%.

However, most of us are no longer using 'traditional' incandescence lamps nowadays, hence, that 90% efficiency claim is not attractive to us anymore. The reference now for efficiency gain is the CFL, which is a big improvement from the energy guzzling filament lamps. Still, LED is the way forward.

In 2012 the Ministry of Green Technology and Water announced that to government is phasing out traditional light bulbs (incandescent bulbs), which would eventually lead to a complete ban in 2014.

I don't know if everyone has thrown theirs in favour of LED lamps yet but for me the announcement was a 'hasty' one.

Should we change to LED light bulbs now?

Ideally yes. But there is issue with this type of lighting, apart from the PF issue (though it may not be anymore), the manufacturing of LED lamps is highly unregulated unlike the conventional ones. The LED component itself may last 10 years, perhaps 15 or 20 years, but the driver unit's lifespan varies and is significantly shorter.

Due to the unregulated (not standard) construction of drivers, one that's fabricated by Osram for instance, would not fit one that's fabricated by Phillips.

What this means is that, you end up buying the whole set of lamp instead of just replacing the faulty parts - which is an expensive exercise. You will then be stuck with one brand, without having the flexibility of switching between Philips, GE, Panasonocs, Osram, etc. Moreover, LED lamps are still very expensive and you don't want to replace them after just 2 to 3 years due to faulty drivers.

Doesn't this remind you of the convenience - you currently enjoy - of replacing your 36W fluorescent tube with a brand of your choice?

The Green Mechanics: Prices of LED lamps are dropping but not appealing enough for me. I'm currently more inclined towards replacing mine with the CFLs. I use them a lot - 20W, 23W and 25W - equivalent to traditional bulbs of 100W, 125W and 150W respectively.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The 5 countries that lead the way toward 100% Renewable Energy

Last year (2014) was an exciting year for renewable energy. For example, in December last year, wind turbines alone provided around 1,279 MWh of electricity to the Scottish national grid, enough to supply the electrical needs of 3.96 million homes (164% of households).

Wind turbines. Photo credit: Creative Commons

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest energy investment report, China led as the world’s largest investor in renewables, with the U.S. coming in second place.

Worldwide, around 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind power capacity were built in 2014—up from 74 GW in 2013—and nearly during every month the headlines were filled with record generation in cities and countries across the world.

Here is the list of FIVE records that were broken in 2014:-

1. Denmark sets world record for wind

Denmark set a new world record for wind production in 2014, getting 39.1% of its overall electricity from the clean energy source.

The latest figures put the country well on track to meet its 2020 goal of getting 50% of its power from renewables.

Denmark has long been a pioneer in wind power, having installed its first turbines in the mid-1970s, and has even more ambitious aims in sight, including a 100% renewable country by 2050. Last year, onshore wind was also declared the cheapest form of energy in the country.

2. UK wind power smashes annual records

In the UK, wind power also smashed records in 2014, as generation rose 15% from 24.5 TWh hours to 28.1 TWh. The country now generates enough wind energy to supply the needs of more than 6.7 million UK households.

A combination of grid-connected wind farms and standalone turbines produced 9.3% of the UK’s electricity demand in 2014, up from 7.8% in 2013 and the latest data follows a string of wind power records announced in the second half of last year.

3. Renewables provide biggest contribution to Germany’s electricity

Renewable energy was the biggest contributor to Germany’s electricity supply in 2014, with nearly 26% of the country’s power generation coming from clean sources.

Electricity output from renewables has grown eightfold in Germany since 1990, and the latest data further highlights the dramatic shift towards clean energy taking place in Europe’s largest economy.

4. Scotland sees “massive year” for renewables

In December last year, wind turbines alone provided around 1,279 MWh of electricity to the national gird, enough to supply the electrical needs of 164% of Scottish households, or 3.96 million homes.

The latest figures further highlight the record year seen for renewables in Scotland, with wind turbines providing an average 746,510 MWh each month—enough to supply 98% of Scottish households electricity needs. Over 6 months of the year, wind generated enough power to supply more than 100% of Scottish households.

5. Ireland hits new record for wind energy

According to figures record by EirGrid on Jan. 7, 2015, wind energy had created 1,942 MW of energy, enough to power more than 1.26 million homes.

And while we are still only a week into 2015, this announcement marked the second time this year the country has seen this record broken. Windy conditions in Ireland meant the country saw not one but two wind energy records set already this year.

The Green Mechanics: Renewable resources as the main sources of energy isn't too far away from matching the finite sources.

Should be good for us.

Source: REW Magazine

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New world record for PV module output: 324.5W by Trina Solar

Typical multi-crystalline PV module (not Trina's) is shown on the left-most.

Trina Solar - the second largest manufacturer of solar panels (behind Yingli Solar) - has set a new world record for power output from a high efficiency multi-crystalline silicon PV module.

Called Honey Plus, the multi-crystalline silicon PV module reached a new power output record of 324.5Wp. This has been independently certified by TUV Rheinland. 

Currently in pilot production, the multi-crystalline silicon module is composed of 60 high-efficiency Honey Plus multi-crystalline silicon cells (156×156mm2), including back surface passivation and local back surface field.

Recently, the Company set a new record for its Honey Plus p-type PERC cell which reached an efficiency of 20.76% - independently confirmed by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab in Germany. 

Trina Solar has set 4 new world records in 2014 for p-type PERC cells and modules, namely:
  • new efficiency record for large-area (156×156 mm2) p-type silicon substrates (21.40%) for mono-crystalline cells
  • new efficiency record for large-area (156×156 mm2) p-type silicon substrates (20.76%) for multi-crystalline cells
  • new peak power output records for commercial PV modules (335.2Wp) for mono-crystalline cells
  • new peak power output records for commercial PV modules (324.5Wp) for multi-crystalline cells.

The Green Mechanics: This could only mean one thing - More power squeezed from those panels on your rooftops.

Source: solarpowerworldonline.com

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

This is wishing you a very happy new year.

Every end is just a new beginning. Keep your spirits and determination unshaken and you shall always walk the glory road.

"Road ahead" - No one can go back in time to change what has happened, so, work on your present to make yourself a wonderful future.

May you, your loved ones, and those around you have abundance of blessings where ever you are, in whatever the situation may be.

From us at
The Green Mechanics
1 January 2015
Kota Kinabalu