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.

Sustainability Design Idea

Sustainability is a fairly new trend for many organisations. For many applications, this is still underway to include sustainability in the solution design. Although there is a lot of room to incorporate sustainability, these steps can be simplify into a few basic ideas.

Basic Sustainability Cheatsheet
  • Create CO2 modules or features set.
  • Quantify CO2 consumption in application.
  • Allow users to select choices for CO2 spending.
  • Tabulate and report CO2 spendings or savings.

The road to incorporate sustainability in applications is still a far way. It is good to let consumers have the choice to play a part for sustainability. As application owner, we will need to play a part to provide sustainability design for consumers.

Earth Day 2021

22 April is Earth Day 2021. We are doing a good job towards sustaining Earth for longevity. However, as technologist, there are much more that we can help to advocate.

Here are some of my personal takes for Earth Day 2021.

  • Waste less, waste not.
  • Bitcoin is a waste of energy.
  • Design for sustainability.
  • If you cannot find it, it is likely you do not use it.
  • Complex solutions are not efficient.
  • Every simple actions helps in sustainability.

What are your steps for sustainability on Earth Day?

Value Chain Redefined

The concept of value chain is not new. It is time to give a new meaning to value chain for the year 2019 and onwards. A pandemic like COVID-19 have redefined value chain to a new dimension.

Classic Value Chain

A value chain is a set of activities to create a product or services with the objective of maximising profit and create a competitive advantage. You will find standard raw materials or resources as inputs and finished products or services as end products. Supporting activities like HR, IT and logistics exists to smooth the operations of this process.

Value Chain Redefined

From COVID-19, value chain are tightly coupled with itself for end to end visibility. Social responsibility and sustainability triggers the evolution of value chain. Digital Transformation displaces old value chain and create new ones. New paradigm are formed where Agile invoke the innovation of customer experience.

In a nutshell, do be prepared for the new chain by acquiring new skillset and mindset. It is no longer viable to retain your old value chain. It’s now or never.

Electric Vehicle and Petrol Station

As I was leaving the petrol station, I ponder over the moment where I may have the chance to use an Electric Vehicle (EV). What will happen to the petrol station? Can they be converted to Electric charging?

This dilemma is a constant reminder of what change can bring. Though sustainability movement brings many benefits, there are awareness that we are never receptive to this change. Sustainability will bring about a disruptive nature to incumbent. There will also be high switching cost to consumers.

Long Road

Unlike all new technologies, sustainability is driven by the thought of a dying Earth. There are a lot of political and huge forces resisting this efforts. The most well known is perhaps the withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement. It is very likely I will not see much drastic change in my lifetime. Of course, I do hope that the future generations can do better from the seed of sustainability.

Carbon Footprint Report

Many organization is in need of sustainability approach and strategy. A quick dirty way to start off is always the Carbon Footprint Report. So, what exactly is a Carbon Footprint Report and how can it be dirty and quick? This is 3 simple steps to start your sustainability movement using Carbon Footprint Report.

Step 1: Communicate Report Objective

In my real life experience, building a Carbon Footprint report is actually the easiest part. Most forgot to communicate the report objective to all the stakeholders. Often, the Carbon Footprint purpose is lost in translation. So, it is not surprising that its creation is a one time event and not being utilised.

Step 2: Monitor your Checkpoints

Another positive outcome you can derive from Carbon Footprint Report is the setup of checkpoints. There are many instance where the report is generated and processed as raw data. This is unproductive as you need sustainability checkpoint. The checkpoints ensure your sustainability efforts are monitored and guided in the correct direction.

Step 3: Broadcast your Win

The last part is the most important part. With one small step using Carbon Footprint Report, you can broadcast your sustainability achievements with continuing checkpoints. This reinforce your benefits of your sustainability program and creates more awareness. You may also develop a domino effect to other applications in setting this report as a key success part of all Sustainability program.

Will you be buying Electric Vehicle (EV)?

The conversation of buying Electric Vehicle pop up during a typical family conversation with family friends. We are being asked will we will be buying EV if we be changing our petrol car. Recently, there is a lot of buzz in Singapore on EV. While the intention sound noble to the sustainability cause, I feel very sceptical to owning an EV in Singapore. Instead, this article will be a positive side to encourage you to buy EV assuming all concerns have been addressed.

Pros of EV
  • EV produce lower gas emissions than combustion vehicles.
  • EV is quieter because it is running on battery power.
  • EV can use renewable energy for its battery source like solar or wind power.
  • EV could be easily monitored, automated and maintained. Imagine you can control and view your EV via your App.

The steps to EV is gradual but will be possible. I may not able to see in my lifetime. Like the mobile enabled generation, we shall soon see an EV enabled roads! Stay tuned, it will be a rough journey to save the World!

Sustainable Value Creation

With growing trend of Sustainability topics, I recently have an interesting read on Sustainable Value Creation (SVC). Value Creation is defined as benefit delivered to consumers from existing capital, in short Value = Benefits − Cost (cost includes economic risk). Borrowing from this definition, SVC refers to the value creation in a sustainable way.

The subject touches SVC from the perspective of CEO in major organisations. Not surprisingly, the top ranked SVC is brand, trust, reputation and revenue growth. Thus, I feel that it will be worthwhile to apply this concept using my perspective from an end consumer.

Consumer SVC
  1. Organisation must provide adequate cost-benefits analysis of Sustainability vs Non-Sustainability to consumers.
  2. Organisation must give clear transparency on sustainable efforts and processes.
  3. Consumers must easily recognise Green Standards for Organisation e.g. ISO 14091, Adaptation to climate change – Guidelines on vulnerability, impacts and risk assessment.
  4. Consumers shall be given incentives to be Green instead of being penalized e.g. Carbon Rebates vs Carbon Taxes.
What do you think should be your SVC?