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.