Smoke Gets In My Eyes, Again!


Read these first

indonesia_tmo_2013170

(The hotspots in Indonesia is a yearly affair and it some how had become “tolerable” when by right it should not be the case. The above when Singapore faced the worst from the slash & burn activities in Indonesia. Image source: http://marufish.com)

At the beginning of last week, this was reported on the state of haze in Malaysia:-

Malaysian authorities declared a state of emergency Sunday in a southern district where a smoky haze blamed on Indonesian forest fires has triggered one of the country’s worst pollution levels in years.

The worst of the smog has shifted from Singapore to southernmost Malaysia, where noxious fumes have drifted across the sea this past week from Indonesia’s Sumatra island. The Malaysian government’s index for air pollution reached a measurement of 746 early Sunday in the southern district of Muar. It was far above the threshold of 300 for hazardous air quality.

Authorities were issuing instructions for Muar’s residents to remain indoors and for schools to close, Environment Minister G. Palanivel said in a statement on his Facebook page. The district has about 250,000 people, several of whom posted photographs on Twitter showing bridges and buildings enveloped in smog that slashed visibility to barely hundreds of meters (feet).

(Source)

And since then, some schools in the Klang Valley were closed for a couple of days (my son certainly was not complaining though) with all of us breathing in and out some of the very unhealthy air todate – some spiked more than 400 on the API reading. But thanks to (man made? or perhaps God taking pity on some of us) heavy rain last week and recent days, API readings have gone down to less dangerous levels and things seemed to have come down to a more normal levels (although last Sunday the haze was back). But hopefully despite the clear skies, we will not be forgetting the culprits who caused some of the worse air pollution over some states in Malaysia last week or keeping our silence on preventing similar occurrence in the coming years.

For start, the Indonesian Government have (once again) blamed (and listed) the “Malaysian” firms involved in the opening burning in Sumatra and on paper, the Malaysian Government have asked for proof and urged prosecution against the wrongdoers but it is a big question on whether the Indonesians would be willing to do that. We are talking big players here and a very aggressive prosecution on something that could be tough to prove (as to who started the fire) could back-fire big time – big players may pull out and huge investments may drop. Think about it – if they could prosecute the culprits, they would have done so a long time ago and that would have been the end of the yearly man-made deadly haze, right?

Interestingly whilst this is still being debated between the Governments, the Malaysian firms having plantation interests in Indonesia have come out emphasizing on their zero burn policy and flatly denied that they were the culprits behind the massive haze over Malaysia & Singapore – they are putting the blame on the locals who determined to do it the easy way. That sounds reasonable but is it?

The standard response has been to blame local communities and smallholders in Sumatra for the clear-cutting and slash-and-burn tactics. It is easy to blame the small guys/local farmers/local communities, etc when they are unable to respond in the media.

Yet, an overlay map of Sumatra shows that there is a close correlation between the hotspots (where the burning is taking place) and the concession areas for oil palm plantations and timber.

So, the large companies then engage some of these local communities to clear the land for them – sort of like outsourcing the land-clearing. And then these local communities do it in the easiest or cheapest way possible. Moreover, the local people often do not have the expertise for replanting, which the large companies possess. But because it is the local communities doing the clearing, the large companies are able to wash their hands and pass the buck to the local communities.

(Source)

And it gets worse if these allegations are true:-

The whole world knows, and has for years, that the haze is not just the product of ‘burning-off’ by a ragtag bunch of small farmers, but wholesale illegal clearance of what’s left of Sumatra’s peat forests by the managements of massive palm-oil plantations.

And that many of these environmental vandals are so-called government-linked corporations which the respective ruling regimes involved are coy about naming because they and their cronies are the principal beneficiaries.

(Source)

In the end, it goes back to the issue of enforcement and the deploying the best method for clearing the land for plantation.

The issue is serious (at least for me) when you have small kids and old people at home and they start to have breathing difficulties and there is nothing much we could do about it. Mind you, 2 people died from all the haze in Malaysia, courtesy of the idiots in Indonesia taking short cuts to clear the land. One of their Ministers even had the cheek to say that the Singaporeans are acting childish on this (some politicians will remain a moron to the core no matter which country they are from). Perhaps some of you may not have small kids and old people to take care of but then what about your own health concerns in the long run? How long you think you can survive wearing mask when you go out? Don’t you get frustrated, angry and sick at the same? What about the negative impact to the country’s economy especially in the tourism sector – how many tourists you think will be willing to take a long stroll outside if the haze is thick and sickening?  In the end, will the slash & burn buggers compensate for these losses – both the economic and personal losses?

00-ria-novosti-infographics-be-200chs-amphibious-firefighting-aircraft-2010

(If there is fire and it cannot be done with simple tools, it is time to look at a more powerful one. One such tool would be the fire-fighting aircraft like the one made by Russia above – it is more effective once coupled with the traditional fire-fighting techniques on the ground. Image source: http://02varvara.wordpress.com)

The “problem” with the problem is that everyone knows what need to be done. The mysterious part would be on the Governments with all its might, expertise and will-power seems to be powerless when this happens on a yearly basis and one need to ask why the might of the law and almost unlimited resources of the Government have not been used to the fullest scale? Sucking up to the slash & burn offenders does has its limits. Instead of being reactive to the problem, why not be proactive instead? After all, trans boundary air pollution is not something one can hide under the blue carpet.

Enforcement aspect aside (it is all talk and no action here for donkey odd years), let’s start with a beef-up the fire services with a specialize team on the forest & peat fires with superior technology (like early warning systems), tools (such fire-fighting planes) and man-power all paid in advance on a yearly basis from a centralised fund (all donated graciously from all plantation owners)? Why not use the satellite imaginary system to pin-point the start of the peat and use the information to coordinate fire-fighting and enforcement on a more aggressive manner? It can be done if this need to be done.

But before that, the Indonesia Government should start with ratifying the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution is an environmental agreement established in 2002 between all ASEAN nations to reduce haze pollution in Southeast Asia. There should not be any more excuses from the Indonesians, now that the source of the haze is clearly is self made and is in their own back yard.

Time to breathe in and breathe out before the next round of haze is back

Expensive Pandas & Pretty Girls


Read this first:-

(RM20 million for a couple of pandas – are you sure we are not getting the real-life Kung Fu Pandas for a kill? Only in Malaysia you can get this kind of crap from those entrusted to manage and safe-guard tax-payers money. Image source: http://deseretnews.blogspot.com/)

I guess it will get crazier as we get nearer to the general election…

RM20 million Pandas

Damn, are these jokers serious…are they really serious?

Animal conservation groups just don’t understand why the government is spending RM20 million on two pandas from China when some of our own species are facing extinction. They say the RM20 million would go a long way to save our species.

“This is a case of [Malay proverb) kera di hutan disusukan anak di rumah mati kelaparan [Importance is given to outsiders rather than own family],” said Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed, president of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

He stressed that local species such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, the Malayan tiger, the tapir, pangolin and elephants to a certain extent face extinction. “The budget allocated to Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) for its conservation efforts is hardly sufficient. For enforcement effort itself, the budget will usually run out in three months,” he said. The pandas are on a 10-year loan from China and will be housed in special air-conditioned enclosures in Putrajaya wetlands.

(Source)

And before you think that we have plenty of spare change for the 2 pandas, air-conditioned enclosures, specially imported bamboos and related unnecessary expenses, this was reported on the same day:-

The Finance Ministry has tabled the Supplementary Supply 2012 Bill for RM13.79bil to meet additional expenses on services and specific purposes not provided for under the Supply Act 2012. The Bill was tabled by Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussein for first reading with allocation for 14 ministries including the Prime Minister’s Department and the Election Commission.

(Source)

The RM20 millions on the panda may not cover the shortfall of RM13.79 billion (with subsidies taking a big chunk of it) but RM20 million (rest assured in a couple of years, this is going to balloon to another couple more of millions due to rising air-conditioning electricity bill, high price of imported bamboos, etc) is still a lot of money and these jokers have the cheek to spend it on some pandas from China? Who is going to pay for this and who is going to get a chunk of the tax-payers money – the Chinese Government or some politician linked cronies? What else this RM20 million suppose to cover – just the loan and maintenance of the pandas in the country or it is just a tip of the iceberg – we are going to get the other nonsense like an undisclosed supply and support contract coming up soon)?

And this nonsense with public funds should just stop – why we always seems to have the village idiots at the pilot seat whenever it comes to allocation of public funds for more crucial development expenses like educations (PTPTN seems to be short of money) or healthcare (remember the 1Care nonsense?) or at least on the conservation of threatened local wildlife. It is either this or having politicians and their families using public funds for their own private expenses

As I have said in the past, it has been sometime since we got someone who is bent on maximizing the income for the Government (by closing the loop-holes for corruption, tax-evasion, etc) whilst at the same time, slashing down unnecessary expenses and then with the funds available, prioritizing the spending of the limited resources for the right, non-political biased purposes (or perhaps repay some of the ever growing foreign debts)

And I don’t see why we should provide these people who abuse the public funds another lease of life in the next general elections (not that it will be easy to do considering that there are people out there who are more worried on other things but remain silent on other major issues like the RM20 million for the 2 pandas. What next? The price or the brand of underpants that the politician wears? Sigh)

(Women all around the world have fought for equal rights which includes the right to vote. The last thing they need is for some politician to come along to say that pretty girls would not vote if they have to put a mark on their finger. Image source: http://www.rense.com/general83/whywomen.htm)

Pretty Girls Logic

It has been some time since we heard something from Kayveas (ever since he lost the Taiping seat and PPP took a heavy beating in the last general elections) and unfortunately when he did, it simply sounded too stupid:-

Pretty girls would hate to have their beauty marred by indelible ink when casting their ballots during the upcoming 13th general election, said People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president Datuk Seri M. Kayveas. Addressing the Federal Territories (FT) PPP convention here yesterday, he said that beautiful young women might not want to cast their votes because of the indelible ink.

“Indelible ink lasts three months. In less developed countries where they do not have a voter registration system based on the identification card, this was used to cast the ballot,” he said. “Here we have identification cards which can be checked against the registration list.

“I don’t think beautiful girls will want the indelible ink to mar their pretty hands or nails. How are they supposed to paint their nails afterwards? They might not even want to meet their boyfriends after voting or they might not even vote. “Women should rise up and protest against the implementation of indelible ink.”

(Source)

Hmm, looks like things have not changed much since 2008.

Ever since the idea of using the indelible ink in the next general elections was mooted, there have been arguments for and against it and for those who had argued against the use of the indelible ink have argued to use biometrics instead. It is a very valid argument – after all, we have one of the best biometric systems already in place. But none of them have argued with the same “level of thinking” as Kayveas did.

Kayveas said that beautiful young women (hmmm, no handsome men?) might not want to cast their votes because of the indelible ink. It seems that being pretty is a curse when it comes to casting of votes, so implies Kayveas. Is this politician saying beautiful young women are dumb and unpatriotic just because of a mark on their fingers? It does not make any sense ( just take a look at the Bollywood actresses including the famed Aishwarya Rai voted and having a mark on their fingers here and here and here) and certainly is not a valid and intelligent reason to opt for biometrics over indelible ink. And even so, the Fatwa Committee have given their blessings and the EC have decided to use indelible ink for the upcoming general elections.

Kayveas should focus more on PPP’s strategy and relevance in the up-coming general elections. As voters, we are indeed interested to know how PPP have made the transition from the time they were “slaughtered” in the last general elections. What is their game plan considering that we had Bersih 3.0 recently and the Pakatan Rakyat have somehow became stronger since 2008? We want to hear something worth listening or is this just another chapter of the circus that we expect to see before the general elections.

Hopefully we wise up when deciding who we will vote in next election – the last we want to do is to vote one that abuse taxpayer’s money on unnecessary expenses or our sense of intelligence.

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2012 Updates: Doomsday Survival in Malaysia


Read these first:-

(The essentials for a bug out bag – How many of us have one similar in case we need to grab the essential items from the house and had to go out to somewhere safe and had to survive on our own without getting rescued? Image source: http://americansurvival101.blogspot.com)

We are almost half way there…

A question. How many of you think that we need to get prepared for the unexpected that may or may not happen in the next few months? Most of you? A handful of you? And mind you, I am not even asking you to think about the so-called end of the world prophecy by the Mayans. It is not necessarily have to be that particular scenario.

I read this a couple days ago:-

Leaders of the opposition party may resort to using prolonged violent demonstrations to win the 13th general election as the democratic approach would not yield them victory if general election results in the past is anything to go by, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

(Source)

In Malaysia, the politics of fear has remained the politicians strategy to ensure continued votes to keeps themselves and their cronies in preferable position and I am not saying this is something new. It may not even wrong to say these things out now as fear can be great motivator and make people think twice of the consequences. Violent demonstrations is one example of disruption to our daily routine – food & other essential items may be rationed if businesses are closed for longer terms.  The same goes to the belief that the world may come to an end on 21st December 2o12. Those who fear that the prophecies may come true have started to make preparation for doomsday survival (and there seems to be many of them).

Let’s take the worst case scenario for argument sake. Let’s assume that something will happen in December this year and how one survives that event depends on how one had prepared themselves.

If it comes to the country that you want to be to survive if the world comes to “an end” on 21st December 2012, Malaysia may not be the best choice out there. Don’t get me wrong, Malaysia is a great country and with very little natural disasters to contend with (we don’t have earthquakes now but it may change in the future), we have one less thing to worry about. But then again it may also prove to be our Achilles’ heels – we may feel safe here but being too safe means we get complacent on issue of readiness and survival actions.

Just consider some of these factors that any survivalists in this country have to contend with (in no particular order):-

1. Basement or attic is not a norm in this country.

Just check around – how many of the houses on sale in this country comes with a good size basement or attic? At the most, you have a pitiful size storeroom at the bottom of the staircase (like the one in my house) or a storeroom cum maid’s room in some of the bigger houses. Admittedly houses in Malaysia is still cheaper than some of the houses in the countries that I have travelled to in the last few years but land portion is still a premium – not even enough to build a small garden shed, basement or other structures.

As survivalists, we may not have basements or attics but we have small storerooms (or spare bedrooms) and unfortunately this is what we have to use as storage to build the all important emergency food & other necessity items. It is not enough to hold emergency water storage (those large water tanks) and any food stored in the pitiful sized storerooms would not be enough to last your family for a few days. And certainly without a good sheltered basement, it may not provide a good protection from harsh weather.

There seems to be only one solution for this – buy your own land and build your own disaster proof basement. In Malaysia, most of us can only dream about this.

2. There are not that many survivalist tools & equipment suppliers

Ask this simple question – how easy it is to buy say water purification tablets or well-stocked bug out bag. And our so-called hardware shops around the country is nothing to shout about – it is more accustomed to large scale constructions and if there is a DIY store anywhere, it is not really user-friendly (yes, some of them are well stocked and plenty of Santa’s helpers around to assist).

I know because I have been visiting them quite frequently lately (I am revamping my store-room to be a food & emergency items storage place) and I did not get some of the items on sale. First, the size of the store does not means it is well stocked – despite my high & low search; I have yet to find a float for my water containers. Secondly just how many of the DIY items comes with proper instructions? Not many and that could be a problem – we may not have the solution to all our problems. Thankfully there is one’s resourcefulness and the internet to get all that important guide.

(Yes, you can opt to keep that huge collection tank at ground level but it is not convenient and is not efficient. It has to be lower for gravity to work its wonders. Image source: http://www.constructionresources.com)

3. Rainwater harvesting system is new and only for a privilege few

I am not sure how the rainwater harvesting system in Malaysia really works but from what I have been reading on the net, for the rainwater harvesting system to really work, you need a proper basement. Then again, see the problem here? No basement means insufficient storage space for the rainwater collected (where else you want to keep your water tanks, the complex filtration system and the water pumps?)

It gets worse if you are living in high-rise apartments – you can only rely on one source of water.

You can try to create some kind of storage with the little space you have in your garden but expensive items laying around on the outside in this country may not be laying around for long. You would have spent thousands of ringgit and time to get that installed just to wake up the next morning to find someone with itchy hands had dismantle it for the scrapyards. Such system had to be inside the house where it does not take up space on the garden and it can be safe from unwanted attention.

4. Solar system is new and no framework to allow home users to utilise alternative energy source

It is the same situation as the case of the rainwater harvesting system – the technology is so new and it is only available for a privileged few (a few who have the space and money). And even with the proposed feed-in tariff (FiT) implementation, the energy generated by the solar panels on your property will not necessarily mean that you will be able to be self-sustain on the energy available.

5. It is not easy to get a gun in this country

I think this is crystal clear to all in this country – there are strict gun laws in this country. Well, it could be a good thing and also a bad thing. The good thing is that we can expect less people to be walking around with guns in their hands at doomsday. Consider this:-

The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in Malaysia is 370,000
The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in the United States is 270,000,000

The rate of private gun ownership in Malaysia is 1.5 firearms per 100 people
The rate of private gun ownership in the United States is 88.8 firearms per 100 people

(Source)

So, how else we can defend ourselves and the family when lawlessness rules the day and enforcement agencies are out of commission? Perhaps I may have watched too many zombie movies but it would not wrong to be holding a powerful shotgun and start to clear a couple of crooks out to injure you and your family and grab whatever little resources that you may have. It is a nice to have scenario but perhaps only in the movies. Not in real life and certainly not in this country.

But having said that, it does not mean that Malaysia is the wrong country to be in – we also have other advantages compared to other countries – there’s plenty of sunshine and rain to keep surviving in bad times. It all depends on individuals on how they want to proceed from there. Let’s start with the easy ones – build proper food & water storage for the family and start growing own vegetables and fruits in whatever space we have (even if we are living in high rise buildings). If this is not possible, then at least equipped yourself with the right knowledge in survival, medicine and DIY skills.

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2012 – Year of Reckoning


(Countdown – 351 days to “doomsday”)

Let’s count this as a New Year resolution, sort of…

(A well documented natural disaster on video – the Japanese tsunami that killed thousands in a modern, well prepared townships in 2011. Image source: The National Geographic)

Forget the local circus (the possible general elections, BN & PR mud-slinging each other for crucial votes, the end of Anwar’s sodomy case & a seemingly predictable outcome and the yet to be impressed with controls of mismanagement of public funds and corruption) for a couple of months in 2012.

Let’s start with the obvious thing when one mentions about the year 2012 on a rather global sense – the end of the world. The end of the world – aka hari kiamat, judgement day, doomsday, when the fat lady had sung – may sound laughable (more so, we have gotten so comfortable in our surroundings and highly predictable world) but it is not impossible. If you think about it, there is no real evidence that the “end of the world” as predicated by the Mayans but then again, we have this:-

The invading Spanish burned thousands of Mayan books, and only four survived. None of those four tell us what the Mayans thought in terms of mythology. After the Spanish conquest those myths were written down in a book known as the Popol Vuh. The creation myth near the start of the book details cycles of creation and destruction.

Who knows what was lost when the Spanish burned the Mayan books by the thousands (in the same way this happened – now no one will know what lied in those documents)?

We already into 2012 but if you look at calamities in 2011 and the kind of revenge that the Mother Nature took on us, something seemed to suggest that things have gotten worse – the flood in Bangkok city and some parts of Australia, the Japanese tsunami that also crippled a nuclear power plant and earthquakes in New Zealand and around the world. No doubt we have screwed the environmental well enough for us to experience a strange change of weather. It not does mean that 2012 will fare any better.

Thus as result of Spanish’s destruction of Mayan texts and lost of other ancient text, no one will know for sure what lies ahead in future unless someone manages to unearth some new collaborative evidence from some where else. In the meantime, we have nothing but well laid arguments for and against the so-called end of the world predictions on 21st December 2012.

(There is plenty that our ancestors can teach us – after all, they built Pyramids and other wonders of the world without any computers and modern machinery. Image source: http://www.armageddononline.org)

So if you ask me, it is still a “50-50” thing – it may happen for real and we may end up paying high price for our lack of readiness or like the much feared Y2K thing, nothing bad really happens and the morning of 22nd December 2012 would be just another ordinary day. And there seems to be an equal and sizable proponent on both sides of the coin arguing on how valid the predictions for 2012 will be

The thing is it does not matter whether the predictions come true or not – we just have to wait and see when the time comes. However, given the fact that we still have about 11 months and about 16 or less days to go before the so-called deadline expires, it does not harm anyone if we make the necessary planning and be prepared should the unthinkable really happens.

And it needs not something expensive and complex like underground, water-proof bunkers in some secret location in the highlands or special high tech boats like in the movie 2012. That is something for the governments of the day (the one who had anticipated and think ahead) to consider – it may not necessarily be for 2012. There is always a chance for a rogue rock from space to come along and smash on the earth in the future (read here for other possibilities).

And when one talks about getting ready for 2012, one just need to “google” in the internet on things that can be done to ensure some form of survivability if the unthinkable should happen. And that will be one’s focus and tasks for this year – nothing major of course but it does not mean that one need to sleeping on their laurels as well, for one should never dismiss the ancient predictions as trivial.

We have been fore-warned! And oh yes, welcome to 2012.

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Home Solar in Malaysia


Read these first:-

(The entire set is expected to cost house owners RM60,000 – it is not cheap but the return of investment does look favorable. If there is special funds for house owners to part finance the set-up cost and then tie the repayment to the monthly FiT, that will promote a greater use of solar panels at residential areas. Image source: http://www.eurocosm.com/)

Seriously, I kind of excited with this:-

BY the end of the year, Malaysians with landed homes can start to generate electricity using their rooftops – and get paid for it by national utility company Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB). This is made possible under the latest push to uphold renewable energy as the “fifth national fuel”.

This push, possibly creating thousands of “independent power producers” along the way, is a likely outcome with the implementation of the feed-in tariff (FiT) system aimed at stimulating the development of renewable energy (RE). FiT works by paying a premium (above what fossil fuel power plants get) for electricity generated from non-fossil fuel sources such as geothermal, mini-hydro schemes and biomass, to name a few.

Despite the seemingly wide choices of renewable energy, solar photovoltaic (PV) appears to be the only feasible option for the average Joe as other alternatives demand high start-up costs and have logistical constraints (like location, in the case of mini hydro projects). With its location near the Equator, Malaysia gets around five to six hours of optimal light each day for PV electricity generation, regardless of whether the PV modules are mounted on rooftops or the ground.

FiT will enable homeowners to receive up to RM1.78 for each kWh they sell to TNB. Homes with installed capacity of up to 4 kWp will be paid RM1.23 per kWh, while those generating above 4kWp (capped at 24 kWp) will be paid RM1.20.

“However, with the bonus criteria such as installation of solar PV in buildings or building structures (rather than stand-alone ground-mounted ones), they will be paid an additional 26 sen on top of the base payment,’’

Regardless of ownership, Malaysia’s FiT framework will guarantee all solar power producers an income for up to 21 years. “Under FiT, consumers producing 4kWp of electricity at home can earn more than RM700 (gross) a month, and it can function as a secondary income generator,”

(Source)

I am excited with this primarily because it now means individual home users (who all this while been powerless against electricity tariff hike) would be able to generate their own power by selling it back to TNB. The net between the two could mean a substantial saving for house owners.

Having said that, the issue on everyone’s mind who intends to put up solar panels up their roof would certainly be the cost:-

The most obvious reason for the slow uptake of solar PV is cost. Generally, PV electricity costs three to five times more compared to electricity from conventional sources. A houseowner who wants to install a rooftop system with a capacity of 4kWp (kilowatt peak) can expect to fork out no less than RM60,000, based on current prices for PV modules and related accessories. A single kilowatt of installed capacity is around RM15,000, which is a lot cheaper than the figure of RM31,410 per kW in 2005.

The other side of the “expensive PV cost” coin is that consumers are not paying the real cost of electricity, given that tariffs are massively subsidised, both directly and indirectly (through cheap natural gas from Petronas).

The starting cost of RM60,000 is not cheap – and if one offsets the electricity bill that they usually pay to TNB and computes the return of the surplus power to TNB, the ROI will not be that great in the short run. However in the long run, it is expected a ROI of at least 9.7% based on the following case study:-

A double storey terrace house owner installed a 3kWp Roof Integrated PV System at a cost of RM54,000 in 2011. Assume system yield of 1,200kWh/kWp/year in Kuala Lumpur – total system yield = 3,600kWh/annum

The system is qualified for:-

  • Installed capacity up to and including 4 kWp (FiT rate of RM1.23)
  • Additional for installation in buildings or building structures (FiT rate of RM0.26)
  • Additional for use as building material (FiT rate of RM0.25)

He’s selling RM1.23+0.26+0.25= RM 1.74/kWh which translate to an revenue of RM6,264.00/year. The simple payback of the system is 8.6 years for the system. The Internal Rate of Return (IRR) for the investment is approximately 9.7%.

(Source)

Additional power from a cleaner source would also means there is less impact on the environment which the same cannot be said on another so-called “cleaner” power source called nuclear power.

According to Kettha, on a cumulative basis, FiT can help Malaysia slash some 46 million tonnes of CO2 from the power generation sector by 2020 if the country manages to generate at least 3,000MW from RE sources by then. If Malaysia can bump up its RE capacity to 7,000MW (a target for 2030), it could theoretically save 166 million tonnes of CO2 from being produced.

Certainly we should have introduced this a long time ago.

Read the FAQs here and here

Radioactive Sea Dump


(The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, conveniently situated next to the Pacific Ocean is now using the same ocean as dumping ground. Image source: http://www.eternian.wordpress.com)

In case you had opted to your waste time and concentrate on the sleazy “alleged sex video of an opposition leader” over real issues facing the world, here is a quick recap of something that happened last few days:-

Workers at Japan’s quake-hit nuclear plant have begun dumping water with low levels of contamination into the sea to free up room to store more highly radioactive water leaking at the site.

About 11,500 tonnes of water will be released into the sea at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The water to be released into the sea contains some 100 times the legal limit of radiation – a relatively low level, says the BBC’s Roland Buerk in Tokyo.

“As it is not harmful to people’s health and as it is necessary to avert an even bigger danger, we decided it was inevitable,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa).

(Source)

And this:-

Tepco says the low-radioactive water it intends to deliberately release into the sea has iodine-131 levels that are about 100 times the legal limit.

But it stressed in a news conference on Monday that if people ate fish and seaweed caught near the plant every day for a year, their radiation exposure would still be just 0.6 millisieverts. Normal background radiation levels are on the order of 2 millisieverts per year.

Getting the mildly contaminated water off-site would permit the emergency staff to then start pumping out the turbine building and the much more radioactive liquid in its basement.

(Source)

An interesting statement – “that if people ate fish and seaweed caught near the plant every day for a year, their radiation exposure would still be just 0.6 millisieverts”. Did they tested this hypothesis on a real person or it is all about statistics & formulas or statement made on assumption that people are dumb?

The latest news from Japan is that they have managed to stop the nuclear leak and if we think that we have overcome the worse, this is rather unsettling:-

“The situation is not under control yet,” said Thomas Grieder, Asia analyst at forecasting firm IHS Global Insight.

“Tepco’s decision to displace the contaminated water into the ocean reflected the urgency of clearing the turbine buildings and trenches of radioactive water so as not to damage equipment needed for restoration of cooling systems.”

“It’s only going to get worse. They are going to be forced to make a tough decision soon.

What they are going to have to release is likely to be highly radioactive. The situation could politically be very ugly in a week,” said Murray Jennex at San Diego State University, who specialises in nuclear containment.

“To put the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in perspective, Chernobyl involved a single operating reactor core,” said Kevin Kamps from Beyond Nuclear, a US radioactive waste watchdog.

“Fukushima Daiichi now involves three reactors in various stages of meltdown and containment breach, and multiple (spent fuel storage) pools at risk of fire,” said Kamps.

(Source)

11,500 million liters of low-radioactive water (as reported, equivalent size of 5 Olympic sized swimming pool) has been officially dumped into the Pacific Ocean and untold amount may have been leaked into the ocean since day one of tsunami.

(Fancy eating fish with 6 eyes? Dumping low radioactive water may not be harmful to humans in the short term but what about long term? Image source: http://www.edwardcheever.wordpress.com)

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says that the low-radioactive water is not harmful to people’s health but have long term effect of this has been studied? What about the effect on the marine life around the place where the low-radioactive water was dumped? Have we not learned anything from the Chernobyl disaster where the effect on health is still felt some 25 years after the disaster?

India took a more drastic action by banning on all food imports coming from Japan for 3 months or more. What about in Malaysia? I’m surprised we have not raised the alarm although sale of seafood in the local market have dropped drastically. Our Health Minister had said that “Malaysia is taking steps to ensure the imported food from Japan is not contaminated by the radiation leaked from the Japanese nuclear power plant” but did not disclose further details.

Earth Hour 2011


(Please bear with BJ as he is going through the unusual slow blogging phase – the write up on his new speed machine remains half done, damn!)

(The idea is to create awareness – not only among the ordinary citizens of the world but also organizations and governments. Image source: http://www.hurting.wordpress.com)

Whilst the world is busy with the nuclear crisis in Japan (which remains serious), here’s an event that marks the need for cleaner and renewable source of energy in light of global climate change. Earth Hour 2011 will be held at 8:30 pm on Saturday 26th March 2011 – details here.

Please mark the date in your calendar and help to spread the awareness and the need to change positive action on global climate change.

And whilst we are on nuclear crisis in Japan, there was an interesting letter in theSun on why we should not go for nuclear power in Malaysia. In case you had missed it, here it is – it does make a compelling point why we should not have a nuclear plant on our own backyard:-

Why nuclear power is not for us

Radioactive waste
No country has been able to satisfactorily store its atomic waste which lasts for thousands of years. US and Canada each have more than 60,000 tonnes of spent uranium fuel stored on site. After spending US$9 billion (RM27.5 billion) on Yucca Mountain, the US still cannot decide whether to use it (it was designed for 70,000 tons and is on a volcanic structure).

It limits clean energy.
Every ringgit spent on nuclear is not available for green energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency. It is an inflexible, expensive, time constrained method of electricity generation and not as environmentally friendly as publicised. The reactors have a finite life span, are expensive to build and decommission, and have to be guarded around the clock.

It is not completely safe.
Safe nuclear power is a myth. The nuclear industry knows that the risk of major nuclear accident is real and requires a special law, the Nuclear Liability Act, to protect it financially from the liability of accidents.

Nuclear power plants are a terrorist or war targets.
Such plants are attractive to terrorists because of their importance to electricity supply, the consequences of radioactive releases and their symbolic character. Imagine the effects of a plane crashing on the stockpile of radioactive caskets or the plant or in the event of hostilities, being hit by a bomb or cruise missile.

Nuclear power plants are unreliable.
There is no guarantee that these power generators will be free from maintenance problems and history is full of stories of generators being shut down because of poor performance or safety concerns, such as happened in Ontario in 1997 when eight of the province’s 20 reactors went awry, turning to coal and gas generation when this happened. It ended up adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and billions of dollars to repair.

Nuclear power is a cause of nuclear arms proliferation.
If we value peace then we should consider this as a poor alternative to renewables. “In theory, reprocessing spent fuel and recycling it in fast breeder reactors reduces the quantity of uranium mined and leaves more of the waste in forms that remain radioactive for only a few centuries rather than many millennia. But in practice, it is problematic because it is expensive, reduces waste only marginally (unless an extremely costly and complex recycling infrastructure is built which will add US$1-2 billion to the cost), and increases the risk that the plutonium in the spent fuel will be used to make nuclear weapons,” says physicist Frank N von Hippel. In the US, three fast breeder reactors closed and Sellafield in UK was also closed temporarily while only the La Hague in France is still open and Rokkaso-Mura in Japan is under testing.

Radioactive emissions
There is a definite increase in radioactivity around nuclear power stations, with particulate pollutants such as tritium going into the air, soil and water and consequently into the food chain. This increases the risk of cancer, leukaemia and birth defects. The incidence of leukaemia among children of workers at Sellafield is twice the national average. Since 1990, 18 cases of leukaemia were reported in children around Kruemmel, one of Germany’s nuclear plants, which is three times the national average. At one conference, Gloria Hsu Kuang-Jun showed data that showed vicinity infant death rates and cancer rates decreasing substantially within two to seven years after nuclear plants closed down.

It is expensive.
Many nuclear plants undergo massive cost over-runs and delays, a burden to the general population in terms of debt and bills incurred for long-term management of radioactive waste. In Finland, a third generation reactor was supposed to be built from August 2005 to May 2009 but it is now scheduled to be ready by December 2011 with a massive 60% cost overrun on the €3.2 billion (RM13.8 billion) project.

Claims that nuclear energy is cheap are based on hidden assumptions. Huge subsidies are ignored such as research and development, enrichment of uranium, insurance liability, waste storage, and decommissioning. And since nuclear power has high capital costs and lower operating cost, its proponents choose unrealistically low interest/discount rate or accounting methods that shrink interest and capital repayments. In UK, there is a fossil fuel levy of up to £1.3 billion (RM6.5 billion) a year to “subsidise” nuclear power after electricity privatisation in 1990’s. Nuclear subsidies in the US already top US$100 billion.

Not the answer to climate change.
It is certainly not that carbon friendly. Moreover there is a long lead time to build and operate a plant, whereas a solar or wind power installation would need much less time. Even China can only plan to generate 6% of electricity by 2020 from nuclear which is currently 2.5%. But it plans to target renewable energy to 16% by the same year; simply because it is more feasible. Sunny Spain has about 30 solar thermal plants under construction and may have 8,000 megawatts installed by 2020. Malaysia is the third largest producer of solar cells, has abundant sunshine and puny solar installations.

It is not popular.
Nowhere in the world is the population enamoured by nuclear power because of cost overruns, government subsidies borne by the masses, poor performance, mounting stockpiles of waste, health problems with accidents, security concerns and others. Tenaga Nasional Bhd is considering building a Generation III/III+ Evolutionary Design reactor.

If Malaysians have to subsidise power generation let it be for solar/wind or other less dangerous methods.

Dr Thong Kok Wai
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility

(Source: TheSun)

Interestingly, a couple days ago, there was another letter in theStar as to why we should go for nuclear power – I did not read in detail into it but similar arguments found in the letter was found here – in this WSJ’s 2008 post titled “The Case For and Against Nuclear Power”.

The counter arguments were:-

The argument for nuclear power can be stated pretty simply: We have no choice.

If the world intends to address the threat of global warming and still satisfy its growing appetite for electricity, it needs an ambitious expansion of nuclear power.

Scientists agree that greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, are building up in the atmosphere and contributing to a gradual increase in global average temperatures. At the same time, making electricity accounts for about a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions, mostly from burning fossil fuels to produce power.

Nuclear power plants, on the other hand, emit virtually no carbon dioxide — and no sulfur or mercury either. Even when taking into account “full life-cycle emissions” — including mining of uranium, shipping fuel, constructing plants and managing waste — nuclear’s carbon-dioxide discharges are comparable to the full life-cycle emissions of wind and hydropower and less than solar power.

And on the issues raised by most anti-nuclear power lobbyists:-

So, what’s the case against nuclear power? It boils down to two things: economics and safety.

One reason it’s so expensive at this point is that no new plant has been started in the U.S. since the last one to begin construction in 1977. Lenders — uncertain how long any new plant would take because of political and regulatory delays — are wary of financing the first new ones. So financing costs are unusually high. As we build more, the timing will be more predictable, and financing costs will no doubt come down as lenders become more comfortable

The next generation of plants is designed to be even safer, using fewer pumps and piping and relying more on gravity to move water for cooling the hot nuclear core. This means fewer possible places where equipment failure could cause a serious accident.

And even if a serious accident does occur, U.S. plants are designed to make sure that no radiation is released into the environment. Reactors are contained inside a huge structure of reinforced concrete with walls that are as much as four feet thick; the Chernobyl reactor lacked such a structure.

Yes, there are plenty of arguments for and against nuclear power and until we will be able to harness enough juice to power the world economies, nuclear plant may be the way of the future.

(Science fiction or something we have yet to put our thoughts and resources in?  The technology that drives huge starships across many galaxies in the Star Trek world. may mean something when it comes to new energy source. Image source here)

In my one of my favorite series, Star Trek, the starships uses the warp drive which is a faster-than-light (FTL) propulsion system. Here’s the interesting part of warp drive:-

A primary component of the warp drive method of propulsion in the Star Trek universe is the “gravimetric field displacement manifold,” more commonly referred to as a warp core.

It is a fictional reactor which taps the energy released in a matter-antimatter annihilation to provide the energy necessary to power a starship’s warp drive, allowing faster-than-light travel.

Starship warp cores generally also serve as power plants for other primary ship systems.

And despite it is being in the far future, nothing remains safe:-

If the containment fields ever fail, the subsequent interaction of the antimatter fuel with the container walls would result in a catastrophic release of energy, with the resultant explosion capable of utterly destroying the ship.

So, yes, in the far future, we do need another source of energy once the fossil fuel have depleted – after all, it is not renewable.  At  the end, we still need to look into renewable clean energy like solar (the good ones powers 85% of the energy need of offices and homes and there’s plenty of sunshine in Malaysia all time around) and wind or the dreadful nuclear plant. We will cross that road when the time comes to pick the available options.

But the call for nuclear plant in Malaysia has additional unique “Malaysian” factors that need to be considered – rather seriously by those in power.

1. Is there really need for more energy in Malaysia now? There always been a contention that we have an oversupply of power in Malaysia and we been paying too much to IPPs with heavy subsidies from the Government as well. What about the 12 hydro-dams planned in East Malaysia in 2008? Have we been focusing on creating the supply first before there is a real demand for it?

(The infamous roof collapse in Malaysia – what do we really lack to an extend a new roof can just collapse – serious attitude problem or rightful skill and expertise? Image source: TheStar)

2. The “tidak apa” culture of Malaysians – how many times we have heard of roof of newly constructed buildings falling down? Poor design, lack of enforcement, subcontracting to unknown cronies or to those bristling with poor and bad records, has been part and parcel of construction of key infrastructures in Malaysia.

3. Enforcement of strict laws and execution of punishments to those who have failed safety and building standards. I dread the thought of enforcement of strict safety standards of building a new nuclear plant in the hands of the local “majlis perbandaran”. Since the time we had the Highland Towers tragedy, news of landslides due to poor enforcement and monitoring keep cropping up.

Or on those developers who flout regulations and slapped with stop work orders, just how many of them have been booked for continuing with the development work until something dreadful happens?

4. Escalating cost of construction – this one no need to say lah – we are famous for mismanagement of public funds for many, many years now and I don’t think it is going to change a bit when we lay out the “initial costing” of constructing a nuclear plant. Actual construction cost is one thing – as usual, in Malaysia, this would soon be followed by issue of an undisclosed “commissions” to be paid out upfront, maintenance costs, training, the “sudden” increase of construction cost, etc to contend with. Of course, are we going to see it happen without open tender and in shroud of secrecy.

Constructing new nuclear plant costs anything between $3 – $7 billion and then there is a separate operating cost that covers security, safety, purchase of uranium fuel (about $59/lb), waste disposal management (costs between £67,000/m3 and £201,000/m3) and finally decommissioning the plant (it cost $300 million or more to shut down and decommission a plant). These of course exclude the cost of compensation and clean up should the unthinkable happen (all information sourced here).

For now, switching the light for an hour this 26th March 2011 is a good start. The tough choice that we need to do in the near future is to decide whether we really need nuclear power for our energy needs but also whether we have the right people, design, policies, laws, enforcement manpower and the funds in place before we take the giant leap.

After all, if the Japanese with all the know-how, technology, discipline and money is facing a bleak future with its nuclear reactors after the 2011 tsunami, what more of us in Malaysia? Truthfully, we are yet to reach the level necessary to construct and manage and nuclear plant in Malaysia.

One would just hope that the Government would not rush in the issue of having a nuclear plant in Malaysia and takes it’s time to get all things in place before it decides to have one.