Beautiful nature

I captured a few interesting photographs of nature with my mobile phone during house visits in Joo Chiat SMC today and decided to share these. There are beautiful wonders of nature in our midst if we look hard enough.

Colourful butterflies hidden in the bushes

Colourful butterflies hidden in the bushes

 

A plant that grew out of a small hole in the concrete ground along the pavement, a beautiful picture of resilience.

A plant that grew out of a small hole in the concrete ground along the pavement, a beautiful picture of resilience.

 

This is not from my travels. African palm (also common in South America) growing right in Joo Chiat SMC

This is not from my travels. Giant African Palm (also common in South America) growing right in Joo Chiat SMC

 

A Bottle Tree in the garden of a house

A Bottle Tree in the garden of a house

 

Pineapple outside a house - Huat ah!

Pineapple outside a house – Huat ah!

Merry Christmas and Happy 2014 from WP Team Joo Chiat

Team Joo Chiat 2013 in photos

Team Joo Chiat 2013 in photos

We had a great time in the greater Joo Chiat area (Joo Chiat SMC and traditional parts of Joo Chiat) in 2013; the weekly house visits, WP Hammer magazine sales, attending parties, casual chats with residents and the carolling. Thanks for all the hospitality and feedback.

See you again in 2014! Have a great year ahead!

Here’s our song for you.

A solar powered home

Last Saturday was punishingly hot and scorching. A group of us were visiting homes in the Telok Kurau area from 3 pm. We were glad to be invited into the home of a good doctor who served us cold drinks.

Pulley-basket

Checking out how the pulley system worked

The house was interesting on two counts. First, we noticed a basket dangling off the staircase with 2 sets of ropes attached to it. It allows the person on the ground floor to place objects into the basket or in a zip-lock bag to be moved to the 2nd or the 3rd floor. Pulling on one set of the ropes will get the basket to the 2nd floor while pulling on the other rope will get the basket to the 3rd floor.

The head of the household explained that his children first started by tying the basket with raffia strings attached to the 3rd floor to make it more efficient to take things from the ground floor. The solution worked but was not so elegant. He thought it was a great idea and decided to buy two pulleys and some ropes, which he used to create his own DIY pulley system. It is a good example of a family working together to innovatively solve problems with common tools.

https://joochiattoday.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/solar41.png

DIY-Pulley System in Action – photo by owner

As we chatted about the scorching weather, the home owner broke into a smile. He said that on a hot day like that, most people would be complaining about the heat, but not him. He would be very happy with hot weathers. He pulled out his smartphone and showed us an App which monitors the amount of electricity already generated that day up to that point in time. It was already at 52 kwH, more than what he could use for their own consumption.

Since moving in a year ago, he found that the previous owner had already installed a solar powered water heater which he found to be very useful. He decided to go for solar panels to power the entire house. The system feeds into the national power grid on the fit-in-tariff scheme, which allowed power generators (including private households) to sell electricity back to the power company. On a typical month, he would receive more than $100 from the power company as the panels would generate more electricity than they could use (It generates over $300 worth of electricity each month, of which his own consumption is around $200+). He had invested over $30,000 in the system of forty two 290-watt Solar panels. He had worked out that the payback is about 10 years while the system can last for 25 years.

July 2013's SP Bill

July 2013’s SP Bill

Aug 2013 SP's Bill

Aug 2013 SP’s Bill

I was excited to hear of his solar panels installation. It is an area I have interest in and have been lobbying in parliament for the government to make a bigger push in this area. I did a quick check of the parliament records (www.parliament.gov.sg) and extracted the six speeches and questions I had presented on this topic since 2012 (http://yeejj.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/renewable-energy/). The topics I had spoken about ranged from test-bedding of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in HDB and public buildings, government support and innovative schemes to promote solar usage in privately owned buildings, and developing local know-hows on renewable energy.

Fit-in-tariff at the moment is only possible with private landed property and with owners of buildings. Joo Chiat SMC is almost entirely private houses, with the majority of buildings being landed housing. It will be good for these households to consider making their homes solar powered. Already, this good doctor has inspired a neighbour to follow suit to also install a similar solar setup. While the payback of investment is still quite long, it is also a commitment towards a more sustainable Singapore.

Solar panels and solar water heater installation in the house in Telok Kurau

Solar panels and solar water heater installation in the house in Telok Kurau – photo by owner

I hope too that Singapore can promote the renewable energy sector more aggressively, both to lower our dependence on traditional energy sources and to build up the local industry to be able to export renewable energy know-how in a rapidly growing global market for such solutions.

Note: The house owner sent me images of the last two months’ utility bills and photographs of the pulley system and solar installations after reading this article. He hopes to inspire more to adopt renewable energy.

Wishing all a happy 2013

Happy 2013!

Happy 2013!