End of COP26 Deal

The end of COP26 deal making saw a clear division of views for sustainability. Targets are set but lack the commitment of rich Nations. Overall, this conference is a small step to save the dying Earth. What are the good things that we know from COP26?

COP26 Outcomes

Glasgow Climate Pact was the outcome that came from COP26. This pact had its up and downs. Some claimed it’s a milder version of what was expected. The key outcomes are:

  • Reduce carbon or achieve net zero carbon.
  • Limit temperature rise to 1.5C
A Mild COP26

Resistance remains from carbon nations. There were talks that zero carbon is the desired goals. However, these were rejected from heavy carbon countries. The interventions from these countries had prevented a more aggressive target.

These climate conferences are like a tug of war. There are often push and pull factors in committing on sustainability. We will see this “wayang” for the years to come because coal remains a cheaper energy source. Can Earth be patience to wait for full commitment? Only time will tell.

COP26 and Sustainability

Sustainability was in the news lately for COP26 (Conference of the Parties) summit. Singapore have pledged to phase out unabated coal power by 2025. That is some good news from a little nation moving towards sustainable energy sources. However, it is newsworthy to note that the top coal consumers have not made similar pledges.

Missing Players for Sustainability

The key missing players of coals consumers to phase out coal is a worrying concern. It signifies the ongoing concern to balance economic growth with sustainability. Afterall, we are trying to restore the damages done. The constant delays from these countries to commit are setback for the rest of the world. The good news are more and more countries are ready to pledge to Carbon free commitments.

Long Road to Sustainability

The journey to Carbon free or net zero carbon emission will be long and tough. From each summit, the major players remains non committal. Sometimes, there are lack of targets shown. It will not be easy to remove entrenched economies tied to fossil fuels. As end consumer, we need to play our part to ensure minimum carbon footprint.

Sustainability summit is like show and tell with missing key players again. It is like watching a soccer match with no star players. Hopefully, we get to see all stars lineup for the summit making the same pledges. Meanwhile, we have to settle for sneak preview!

Geothermal in Singapore?

There is an interesting news in Singapore lately on geothermal energy for sustainable energy. Looking at our geographic location, this sounds pretty far fetched. After all, Singapore only have a small “hot spring” at Sembawang. Moreover, there are no volcanic activities or hot spots underground. Is this a realistic choice of sustainable energy?

Low Carbon Options

Geothermal energy is a common choice of sustainable low carbon energy. They are usually build in regions with geothermal energy near to surfaces like hot spring. This give easy access to geothermal energy without drilling deep into the Earth’s crust. Geothermal energy is also renewable and remains part of the Earth system.

Why Impractical in Singapore?

Unlike other sustainable options, geothermal is shown to have reduced output with times. You will also need to build geothermal plant over your existing geothermal resources. There could also be byproducts from geothermal plants that require special attention to these toxic materials.

Geothermal power is a good source of sustainable low carbon energy. However, it is interesting to see how far the exploratory study on geothermal energy in Singapore. After all, the geographic location play a key role in harnessing geothermal power. With this aspect, Singapore does not seem to be a good fit for this option.

Application Sustainability Framework

Sustainability framework will be creating a butterfly effect to downstream like product development or application development. There is not much guidelines for application sustainability framework because sustainability framework is produced at a holistic view. These are some points we can consider for application sustainability framework.

Automation is Sustainable

The first approach for application sustainability framework is automation of tasks. No, it’s not RPA! It is revamp of your legacy applications for automation. Human intervention in application give rise to idling and wait time. This creates inefficient workflows in your applications. The more automation there is, the higher your application sustainability will be.

Application Ecosystem

Application sustainability will require application ecosystem to obtain sustainable outcome. Applications no longer operate in silos but exist as networked ecosystem with one another. This leads to network orchestration and a rich exchange of digital information. A notable positive sustainable outcome is reduction of paper footprint in favor of digitalisation.

Two key characteristics of application sustainability framework is increased automation and application ecosystem. As a result, the network effect will drive and support the organisation sustainability framework.

Achieving Carbon Neutral

Carbon neutral is not zero carbon as many will think. It actually means how you can reduce carbon emissions to zero. Broadly speaking, achieving carbon neutrality can be done by carbon offset or carbon reduction. These steps involves several factors to be conducted at an organisational level. I will briefly mention how this can be done for an product owner.

Carbon Offset with Integration

The way to offset your carbon usage in your application is to understand the usage patterns and consumptions. This means you will require a carbon footprint summary of the application inputs and outputs. Carbon offset can usually be achieved via direct integration to other applications. Integration reduces carbon usage by replacing paper transfer or email exchanges of processes between applications.

Carbon Reduction with Auto Scaling

Auto scaling is the most popular for carbon reduction in an application. Idling time are a wastage of carbon if servers are running at full capacity. Vice versa, under capacity creates backlogs and delays. This results in process congestion and exceptions handling. Auto scaling helps in right sizing capacity for efficiency and reduction of carbon usage.

Carbon neutrality can be done for product owner using two basic changes. You can offset your carbon by direct integration with your partners. At the same time, you should also enable auto scaling to maximise your server capacity and usage for different consumption period. Thus, your carbon reduction will be at an optimal level.

Sustainable Enterprise Architecture

Sustainable enterprise architecture (EA) will help organisations achieve better sustainable development goals (SDGs). There are many ways to embrace and move towards a holistic sustainable vision. This is a summary of how we can start a sustainable EA.

Multidisciplinary Task Force

EA will be a key enabler for sustainability goals. The breadth of the goals requires multidisciplinary skillsets to setup and design the EA blueprint. Many organisational EA remains in silo and does not draw on existing SME (subject matter expert) for its development of sustainable EA.

Sustainable Framework

You can start to include sustainable framework into your existing EA. Sustainable framework requires higher data visibility of your operational flows. You can enable sustainable checkpoints to your EA. Sometimes, you may need to replace existing framework with sustainable ones for your EA.

Existing EA does not factor SDGs as part of the framework. You may require a multidisciplinary task force to evaluate and review your EA for sustainable purposes. Doing so will involve an upgrade or replacement your EA framework for a sustainable ones.

Sustainable Energy Options

Sustainable energy is gaining traction as we move to harness these energy. In Singapore, this can be quite a challenge because consumers are faced with constraints with its usage. These are some factors that could help consumers adopt more sustainable energy options.

Consumer Carbon Tax Rebates

Many of sustainable energy options are more costly than traditional ones. There are little incentive for consumers like me to make the switch. It is a reality that profit often take precedence over sustainability. With carbon tax, rebates are offered for organisations but not consumers. If this option can extend to consumers, sustainability conscious users may make the switch.

Ease of Switching

Another push factor to adopt sustainable energy is the ease of switching to these options. Electric vehicle is one such case study in Singapore as existing infrastructure is not built for electric vehicles. It may even take a decade for the entire country to support electric vehicle usage. Instead, a realistic model will be hybrid vehicle. Consideration must be made to improve on how consumers can easily switch to sustainable energy options.

The dying earth is a reason for the push for sustainable energy options. However, there remains little incentives for consumers to make the switch. Time and cost remains the key factors why consumers rather not adopt sustainable energy options. If we continue to ignore these factors, we can continue to dream about adopting sustainable energy at a snail pack.

Switch to Sustainable Energy

My son have an interesting school project to look into sustainable energy source for an island. The island will be the size of Singapore. One of tasks is the review of sustainable energy. He is required to find out the pros and cons of each energy sources. Fossil fuel is the default energy source for current usage.

Popular Sustainable Energy

Natural energy can come from light, wind or water. Popular choices of alternative energy are solar power, windmill or tidal. Solar farm remains the most popular choice in Singapore due to the constant sun in equator. Windmill is another popular choice but it is suited for large open space with strong winds. This choice is definitely out due to densely build up areas. Tidal energy is the most interesting but we seldom see these implemented. This could also be due to the small coastlines of Singapore.

Sustainable Ecosystem

The sustainable ecosystem is also a big challenge. The landscape have not been designed to hassle these energies. We have been so reliance on fossil fuels that the entire ecosystem consist of it. The switch to sustainable energy will be painful and costly. After all, existing demand and critical mass of fossil fuels are keeping the cost low, leaving consumers little incentive to switch to cleaner energy.

It will be a long journey to move to sustainable energy. Initiatives like solar farm are simple efforts to build these ecosystem. These pace are still slow but will Earth wait for consumers to switch. Only time will tell!

More Solar Energy Testing

The search for sustainability continues with more testing of solar lights. Previously, I had tested some solar panel setup that failed to work. Not wanting to give up, I tried again, this time with solar lights. The results were not fantastic, neither they were that bad. Overall, it was a good start to attempt to harness solar energy.

Solar Lights Setup

The trial was a test of 4 solar powered lights. Location was balcony with good sunlight exposures and bedroom with poor sunlight. It was really useful because you do not require any wiring to be done. Each solar light cost around SGD$2.20 or USD$1.70. That was pretty low cost as each light comes with solar panel, an LED light and rechargeable battery.

Good and Bad

Location plays key part in effectiveness of solar lights. The solar lights placed in bedroom with poor sunlight remains unlit after a day of no sunlight exposure. On the hand, the ones at balcony remains dim and able to light up. Thus, you must place your solar lights in place where you get a constant reach of sunlight.

Overall, it is really good to see night lights in the dark balcony. The brightness of the light is dependable on the amount of sunlight exposure. This suits Singapore, as we usually get sunlight throughout the year. However, it cannot be used if you require a reliable brightness. The journey of sustainability goes on as I will try to test more sustainability options in Singapore HDB flat.

Testing Solar Energy in HDB

Singapore seems to have a whole lot of solar energy that we can tap. This is what we thought so since we get sun all year round. Is it possible to setup solar energy in a HDB flat (Singapore Public Housing) ? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Thus, this is an alternative energy that you cannot utilised in HDB.

Converting Solar Power

You will imagine solar power can power your house and save your electrical bills. After all, most HDB flats are facing the sun in some time of the day. In reality, solar cells have very low efficiency in its conversion to electrical. The best you can do is charge your battery pack after placing in the sun for many hours. You will also need full exposed area for your solar cells.

Storing the Power

Another issue is the storage of power. This usually require battery packs. If you compute the amount of electrical usage, the time to charge and store a single battery pack. You will end up a lot of batteries around your flat. For HDB, this is not allowed. This is because many solar panels or battery packs will a fire risks.

If you are looking to setup solar power in HDB in Singapore, you are better off buying solar from the energy providers. Of course, this cost much more than conventional energy source. It will be a few years before consumers can utilise solar power as in the movies.