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Memoirs of a Meteorologist

Entries in this blog

 

ST Article on the 25 May 2007 Waterspout

The Straits Times May 26, 2007 A towering sight off the east coast By Andrea Ong THOUSANDS of people from the city centre to Changi were transfixed yesterday afternoon as a large water spout appeared off the east coast. The water funnel rose majestically from the sea, and sent people scrambling for their cameras and cellphones. In fact, the water spout broke all previous records for reader reaction at The Straits Times' online portal Stomp, with 150 SMSes, MMSes and e-mails streaming in within 10 minutes. In all, Stomp received more than 500 images and videos from readers, who used various terms to describe the phenomenon: a tornado, cyclone, hurricane and even 'a finger of God'. The spout was large enough to be spotted from Marina Bay, Shenton Way, Kallang, Bedok, the East Coast and even at Changi. Staff at Equinox Restaurant - atop the 226m-tall Swissotel The Stamford hotel - were amazed by its size. Its manager, Mr Mutto Kawary, 30, said the huge column seemed like it was more than twice the hotel's height. The National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement that the spout appeared at about 2.30pm off Marine Parade and lasted about 30 minutes. Mr Benjamin Li, 24, said he saw an aircraft in its vicinity and feared for the plane's safety. The account executive was in his 31st-storey office in Springleaf Tower in Anson Road. 'Everyone went quiet,' he said. The plane emerged unscathed. Water spouts appear when a type of cloud, cumuliform, forms during thunderstorms, creating low-pressure pockets. A column of water is then sucked up towards the base of the cloud. The NEA said water spouts are common in tropical waters and there are usually one or two sightings off Singapore in a year. The last spout was seen in August last year. Spouts seem to dissipate fairly quickly. While they can pose a threat to small boats in the water, they usually weaken and vanish when they come nearer to shore.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

Squall Line on 30 April 2007

Hi, for those interested, I have updated my waterspout entry with a radar image of the thunderstorm producing the waterspout. Here is a series of radar images of the squall line that affected the island on 30 April, which our Finnish forecaster was referring to (see my earlier post on 20 May). The gust front is quite distinct. We had an unusually large number of squall lines on consecutive days this April. April is the transition period between our two monsoons (northeast monsoon and southwest monsoon). We normally get the squall lines during the southwest monsoon period, but we can also get them at other times of the year, whenever our winds change to westerlies/southwesterlies. I must apologise for the quality of the radar images - they've been showing a lot of noise/interference. I think we should consider upgrading our radar soon, it's getting on in age ...

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

Waterspout Sighting

We had a flurry of calls from the police, civil defence and the public today, because a distinct waterspout was sighted off the southeastern coast of the island. Our radar showed that the weather system producing it was just a small thunderstorm. Which goes to show that you don't need a large and impressive thunderstorm to produce an impressive waterspout. What is as amazing as the waterspout is the speed at which news travels nowadays. Practically everyone on this island has a cellphone with a camera in it, and photos were soon being sent to our office and the media. An hour later the local online news websites I checked (Channel Newsasia and the Straits Times) both featured the phenomenon. I managed to get this nice series of photos from a colleague, which seems to show the waterspout dissipating.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

A Finnish Email

I was amused by the following email from a gentleman from Finland...he certainly is very enthusiastic - I find meteorology interesting, but I'm not sure I would carry a windmeter around like he does! Will post some radar images of the squall line he mentioned when I have the time. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hello! I am a forecaster from Finnish Met. Institute. I got a chance to visit Singapore second time 24-30.4.2007. I traveled with my brother who was also last year visiting Singapore. Few reasons I wanted to contact you: 1) Possibility to visit your forecast office in Changi Airport in the future, 2) weather in Singapore during our stay, 3) special events during our stay 1) It would be a great honour to visit your forecasting office, maybe during next visit. The place is not best one if considered just after arrival (12-15 hours of flying from Helsinki) with all the luggage and immigration prosedures. On the other hand, paying a visit in the middle of the stay would mean to take a cab or MRT to Changi. In fact we traveled from Raffles Place to Changi via MRT. Would it be possible to pay a visit? I would contact weeks before time of the visit. I just would be interested of your day-to-day routines, forecasting models, effect of El Nino-La Nina to climate... 2) Year before (late April 2006) the weather was relatively dry with 3-4 days without any rain. Temperatures were also many times above 30 C. This time it was a little different story. We stayed one night longer but still it rained every single day (8 days a row). Temperatures has hard time reach 30 C. Typically it rained during night or in the morning and the cloud deck didn't vanish until the afternoon hours. It must have rained 120-150 mm locally during this period of our stay. Does shift from weak El Nino to near neutral in ENSO during December06, January-February07 has an impact? 3) I would like get little more info of these two events: On the nights 29th and 30th (3-4 AM) strong thunderstorm and strong wind keep us awake. What triggers strong nightly thunderstorms in Singapore/Malesiya area? Radiation cooling on the top of the cirrus? How many lightning strikes (cloud to ground) strong storms produce usually? I noticed that local people doesn't care a lot even when lightning strikes rumbles very near. Some tall skyscrapers may take few strikes? This 30th April nightly event was even more bizzar. Usually in the tropics no strong winds are observed even with thunder. Last year I measured with my portable windmeter of 13 m/s gusts from the 28th floor of Swissotel the Stamford. This time we were on the same side (baywye) but on the 51th floor (120-130 m AGL). At 3 AM 30.4.2007 strong haueling wind woke us. It was raining heavily but no thunder was heard. I did not go to balcony because of the lightning risk. The wind was blowing pretty hard about 10-15 min. I would estimate that the gusts were near 15 m/s. We even sceared some clothes drying on the balcony floor could lift up. Of course our position was over 100 m above sea level, but I think there was strong gusts even on the ground level. What was behind this event? Downdrafts? How strong can winds be in strong thunderstorms? Ps. In our opinion Singapore is by far the best country we have visited. Clean, hospitality and everything. Growing traffic and Casinos built may be some conserns in the future. XXX forecaster, Finnish Meteorological Institute Helsinki, Finland

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

The Sun Rises on Singapore's Solar Industry

May 15, 2007 The sun rises on S'pore's solar industry Landmark buildings may go solar; NUS in talks on research, teaching centre By Jessica Cheam THE solar industry is shaping up as a sunrise one. Landmark buildings - and there are so many on this sun-drenched island - may soon sport solar panels that do double duty as roofs. Solar-energy architects here are pushing for more than just solar panels slapped atop buildings to turn sunlight into electricity: They want to make what are called photovoltaic panels an intrinsic part of the structure and design of buildings like MRT stations. The architecture department of the National University of Singapore (NUS) is now in talks with the Economic Development Board (EDB) to set up a research and teaching centre to promote the concept. Details of the Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV) Centre have not been finalised, but it is likely to be the first architecture-driven BIPV centre in Asia, said Assistant Professor Stephen Wittkopf of NUS. The Straits Times understands that the centre, likely to be run by NUS, will also offer specialised programmes for students and eventually, for professionals, to get a qualification in BIPV. BIPV could be the next big thing here, given that National Research Foundation chairman Tony Tan recently declared clean energy - and especially solar energy - as a likely major engine of Singapore's growth by 2015. Singapore's thrust into clean energy received an infusion of $170 million from the Government recently as part of a larger $350 million fund set aside for the Republic's green-energy drive. Prof Wittkopf said that, with Singapore buildings being chock-a-block and the island's location on the sun belt, it made sense to explore this technology. Research on 'solar architecture' is already under way. NUS' architecture department has been looking into how feasible it will be to apply this technology to selected buildings like Ang Mo Kio MRT station, the Environment Building in Scotts Road and the Poh Ern Shih Temple in Pasir Panjang. How efficient is BIPV? It is estimated that a system comprising 2,900 sq m of solar panels - the size of almost half a football field - can generate enough electricity to power about 100 three-room Housing Board flats. This is the reckoning of Ms Huang Yi Xiang, 25, who is working towards a master's degree in architecture at NUS. She designed a 280 kilowatt-peak system for the Ang Mo Kio MRT station. A kilowatt-peak is a measure of the amount of electricity produced under defined conditions. Developing manpower and expertise in the technology is crucial if it is to take off here, stressed Prof Wittkopf. He hopes the BIPV centre will do its bit to groom local talent for the solar industry. He said: 'Seeing is believing. If people see these panels around them, it creates public awareness and acceptance, which will help create a future demand, and bring prices down to a competitive level.' Price is a major dampener on the adoption of solar technology, and this is where the Government can step in, suggested Mr Christophe Inglin, who chairs the Renewable Energy Committee of the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore. He added that BIPV was especially appropriate in Singapore, which cannot spare land for solar plants. EDB said it was unable to comment further on the BIPV Centre but confirmed that it was 'in talks with NUS to raise the level of R&D in the area of clean energy'. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) also confirmed that it was in discussion with EDB and NUS and would release more details on the showcase project soon.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

Singapore Shaken After Quakes in Indonesia

Singaporeans experienced two rounds of tremors in the space of two hours on Tuesday, following two earthquakes in Padang, Indonesia. Singapore's Meteorological Services Division said the first tremors were felt at about 11.50am after an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale struck Padang on the island of Sumatra. The epicentre was 50 kilometres north-northeast of Padang and some 430 kilometres south-west of Singapore. The second round of tremors occurred around 1.50pm after another earthquake, also measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale, struck Padang. The Police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) received nearly 1,000 calls from the public reporting tremors after the two quakes. The tremors were felt in many parts of Singapore and in some 236 buildings. Most of the buildings were in Ang Mo Kio, Yishun, Toa Payoh, Woodlands, Serangoon, Sengkang and CBD areas like Robinson Road and Shenton Way. Callers to the MediaCorp News Hotline reported tremors were also felt at Beach Road and Choa Chu Kang. Of those affected, 131 were HDB buildings, 95 commercial buildings and 10 private residences. Witnesses said some tall buildings in the central business district swayed slightly. Several buildings, like the Concourse, Capital Square and Centennial Tower in the city, and even Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Clementi, were evacuated. Police said there were no reports of injuries from the tremors in Singapore. Office worker Nicholas Wong said he and his colleagues were at their office shortly before lunchtime when they felt the building shaking. "We grabbed our bags and just evacuated," he told 93.8 Live radio station. "Everyone was panicking. One of my colleagues was crying because she had never felt such an effect before. We were all rushing out of the building." But public relations executive Gavin Liow, 23, said he and his colleagues took it calmly. "I thought, what the hell was it? You don't expect such things to happen," he told AFP. Danny Tan Ming Xiong, 24, said he and his colleagues also felt the tremors. "We were kind of freaked (the) first time. My colleagues and I thought we were giddy. Everyone started asking each other if we felt it, then realised the building was shaking," he told AFP. "My company made the decision to get out of the building. We went down 40 storeys by stairs." A spokesman for Saint Andrews Junior College said the first tremor disrupted lessons and students were dismissed after the second one "to pre-empt further interruptions, and in the students' interests and safety." Another office worker told Channel NewsAsia he saw people screaming as they went out. Others felt no tremors at all but got swept along by the general reaction. "I didn't feel anything when one of my colleagues called me to evacuate," said South African Bulelwa Makina, 24. "This is my first time feeling a tremor in Singapore but because I have been here for a while, I do know that Singapore does get tremors from other countries so I wasn't shocked," she told AFP. - CNA/ir

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

Record Rainfalls this December

Well it seems that the rainfall this December has been exceptionally heavy this year. Maybe I've been too busy to notice, but it didn't seem any worse to me than 2001 when Typhoon Vamei hit Singapore ... --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Straits Times Forum Dec 28, 2006 Flood-prone areas cut from 3,200ha to 130ha PUB, the national water agency, thanks Mr Thomas Lee Zhi Zhi for his letter, 'Civil Service should be more proactive' (ST, Dec 27). On Dec 19, Singapore was hit by the third-highest rainfall recorded since 1931. The 24-hour rainfall recorded was 366mm. This exceeds the average amount of 284 mm recorded for the month of December in previous years. The highest rainfall recorded in one day was 512 mm in 1978, while the second-highest rainfall recorded was 467mm in 1969. The floods took several days to subside and thousands of people were affected. Since then, the drainage system in Singapore has been improved and the flood-prone areas were effectively reduced from 3,200ha to 130ha. New projects, such as the Marina Barrage, are some of the proactive steps that we have been taking to further decrease the flood-prone areas. Although heavy rainfall was expected this period, the rainfall on Dec 19 was exceptionally high. Only two locations, Olive/Joan Road and Upper Thomson/Mandai Road, had prolonged flooding for about a day as they are both low-lying areas. The junction of Olive Road and Joan Road lies in the Caldecott Valley, which is between 1.5m and 3m below the level of the main road. While these low-lying areas flood occasionally, this is the first time that the waters overflowed onto the roads and affected traffic on Upper Thomson Road and the junction of Olive Road and Joan Road. The Thomson nurseries are slated for redevelopment in the long term, which will include raising the ground level and building bigger drains. Meanwhile, PUB will continue to monitor the area and take action to help alleviate flooding. PUB works closely with other agencies - the National Environment Agency on weather and Traffic Police on road conditions. The public is welcome to give feedback to our 24-hour call centre, PUB-One, on 1800-284 6600. Yap Kheng Guan Director, Drainage PUB

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

Taiwan Quake Disrupts Internet Usage

And I was wondering why the net was so slow. I'd received a dozen SMS alerts on the Taiwan quake, but didn't take much notice because it was so far away ... we're more concerned with quakes around the Sumatra region. Who would think that a quake in Taiwan would still affect us! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dec 28, 2006, 0.00 am (Singapore time) Home users and businesses cut off from websites abroad THOUSANDS of home users and companies here found themselves cut off from the Internet on Wednesday morning, after several undersea telecommunications cables were damaged in the Taiwan earthquake. In one of the most extensive disruptions here in years, IDD calls to Taiwan as well as two cable TV channels here were also affected. Internet users who tried to go online early in the morning found they could not access overseas websites and sometimes failed to send or receive e-mail. Access to websites based here, like the Singapore Government's, were not affected, as the traffic did not have to be routed overseas. The problem began to ease in the afternoon, when the telecoms traffic was diverted to other cables unaffected by the earthquake. By then, however, the breakdown had caused widespread disruption for companies that relied on the Net for business, including big firms with extensive telecoms links. Both SingTel and StarHub were inundated with calls from customers. SingTel, which co-owns three of the damaged cables as part of a consortium, said work was under way to repair the cables.A StarHub spokesman said Internet users can expect to face slow traffic for at least a few days. Transmission of two of StarHub's cable TV channels - Hallmark and TV5Monde - was also disrupted because the images are delivered over the affected cables to Singapore. Meanwhile, IDD calls made to Taiwan by SingTel, StarHub and MobileOne customers could not be completed for several hours until evening. At SunPage, IDD calls to the United States, Japan and Taiwan were affected, though a spokesman said the problem had been fixed by 6pm, with the exception of calls to Taiwan. The downtime also affected news agencies Reuters and Bloomberg, which provide live financial information to markets in the region. Bloomberg's wire services in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and in parts of India were disrupted. The business news agency could not say when services would be fully restored. At stockbrokers UOB Kay Hian, online trading was hit. Customers trying to trade shares online had difficulty logging on to its website and also could not view stock charts. The problem caught many people here by surprise. Even though it was spotted late on Tuesday night, shortly after the first reports of the powerful Taiwan quake, the disruption became clear only on Wednesday morning when many people went online. Consultant Steven Ng, 32, said: 'The problem became better in the evening, but it was still on and off when I tried going to Google.' The last time users here faced a similar problem was in May last year, when an undersea cable between Singapore and the Philippines was cut. Only StarHub users were affected then.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

ST Article : 24 hours of rain mayhem

Dec 20, 2006 24 hours of rain mayhem Floods and landslides hit island Fallen trees hold up traffic SINGAPORE was lashed by the third-largest deluge of rain in recorded history yesterday, causing heavy flooding in parts of the island, bringing down trees and triggering landslides. The rain was most intense over the northern and central parts of the island, where flooding affected at least four locations. Vehicles were diverted from several traffic junctions, which had been rendered impassable by the rising waters. Off Olive Road, the water was waist-deep, submerging nurseries along Thomson Road and paralysing cars, vans and lorries. According to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), there was 'spillage' at the nearby MacRitchie Reservoir and at Upper Seletar Reservoir. Landslides were reported in two places: along Mandai Road and Bukit Batok West Avenue 2. High water was not the only reason for the traffic woes. A tree fell along Alexandra Road opposite Ikea, blocking three lanes. On Monday night, a tall tree had toppled and smashed through the windows of four flats at a housing block in Joo Seng Road and also damaging a concrete window ledge. Yesterday, Marine Parade Town Council said it was unsure whether the tree had been struck by lightning or had fallen due to strong winds during the thunderstorm. It is deciding whether to remove three other trees on the same slope. Aside from the havoc and damage to property, at press time there were no official reports of any deaths or injuries resulting from the rain. The only accidents so far have been minor, resulting from mishaps such as people falling into submerged drains. The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it had been called in to rescue three employees from an office building along Upper Thomson Road yesterday afternoon, after the flood prevented them from opening a main gate. Firefighters had to cut a hole in the side fence to let them out. PUB said yesterday's rainfall was the third-highest recorded in Singapore in the last 75 years. Over a 20-hour period until 8 pm, the highest total rainfall was 345mm, recorded in Yio Chu Kang. This figure far surpasses the entire monthly average for December, which is 284.4mm. The highest rainfall recorded in Singapore over 24 hours was 512.4mm in 1978, which resulted in the worst flooding in recent history. The second highest was 467mm, in 1969. The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the heavy rain was caused by the north-east monsoon, which started in early December. During the season, there are sudden surges in the north-east winds, which carry a lot of moisture. They usually last two to seven days. When heavy rain coincides with high tide, flash floods can result in low-lying areas. The water level in drains and canals becomes so high that the water cannot be drained off quickly enough, causing floods to occur. This is what happened at a kampung in low-lying Lorong Buangkok yesterday. Water started rising around the wooden home of 60-year-old housewife Habsah Rohe at around dawn. She frantically took her carpets off the floor and dumped her laundry on her bed. Within two hours, the water was up to her knees. 'What a back-breaking task scooping water out of the house,' she said with a sigh. She may have to get used to it. Wet weather with occasional heavy showers is expected for the rest of the week. The NEA's meteorological services division says the wet spell is expected to improve gradually.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

ST article : New Public Buildings to Go Green

Dec 15, 2006 New public buildings to go green from 2007 Private sector urged to follow suit; Government offers incentives IT IS goodbye to chilly offices with sweater-clad workers and hello to high-tech air-conditioning, waterless urinals and solar power - as Singapore's buildings gear up to 'go green'. From next year, all new public buildings and those undergoing major retrofitting have to earn the environment-friendly 'Green Mark' - proof that they are energy- and water-efficient, with good indoor environments. All new Housing Board flats will have the Green Mark. But not all upgrading HDB blocks have to earn the certification, as the buildings' physical constraints may prevent compliance. The public sector is taking the lead in embracing green building technology, Minister of State (National Development) Grace Fu said yesterday as she announced the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA) Green Building Masterplan. Ms Fu urged the private sector to follow suit. She backed the call by pledging $70 million in incentives to encourage developers to embrace sustainable development and the industry to step up research and development efforts. The BCA's Green Mark scheme, launched last January, rates buildings for their environmental impact and performance. It takes into account energy and water efficiency, indoor environment quality, building management and environmental innovation. Green buildings are also good for the bottom line. 'Studies in the US have shown that water savings of up to 30 per cent, and energy savings of 20 to 30 per cent are possible,' said Ms Fu. BCA chief executive John Keung said this initiative was a critical milestone for Singapore and hoped the incentives would encourage more green buildings, as increased demand will create more competition and prices for materials and services will fall. 'We want Singapore to know we are very serious about this,' he said. 'Our buildings are a major consumer of energy and the greatest generator of waste. As a small built-up country, sustainability is even more important.' Developers can draw cash incentives of up to $3 million per project from the $20 million Green Building Incentive Scheme. The amounts depend on the level of a building's Green Mark rating. A Gold rating is given to buildings that score between 70 and 79 points in the BCA assessment, Gold Plus for 80 to 84 and the highest Platinum for 85 to 100 points. In addition, Singapore-based companies and individuals can obtain grants from the $50 million MND fund for R&D of green technologies for the building industry. Currently, 34 buildings have Green Mark certification. Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) is one of four public buildings that obtained the Platinum rating. TTSH's green innovations - like sensors that turn down air-cons when it rains - have saved it $3 million a year in power bills. Private properties like City Developments' The [email protected] Bay and St Regis Hotel & Residences, which have features like solar heating for swimming pools, have obtained the Gold and Gold Plus awards respectively. CDL's general manager for projects, Mr Eddie Wong, felt the government offer to defray some of the additional costs 'will help tip over some developers sitting on the fence'. Smaller developers also welcomed the move. Hong How Corporation chief executive Daniel Teo said he had been looking into green buildings but had been deterred by the initial development costs, which are usually 3-6 per cent more than regular buildings. Singapore Environment Council executive director Howard Shaw said it was commendable that the public sector had committed itself to a deadline. But he said Singaporeans also needed to be informed about the benefits of going green. 'The more educated Singaporeans are, the more they will respect the environment,' he said. Dr Keung agreed that public education was crucial: 'Only when there's a consumer-driven demand will the industry respond.' BCA will also embark on campaigns and public education early next year to drive home the message. It hopes Singapore has 200 more green buildings in the next three years.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

On A Clear Day ...

Well, the haze situation has improved. But I've been too busy moving house to worry a lot about it ... has been madness, trying to unpack with a baby that cries frantically the minute you put her down and wants to be carried all the time. She refuses to sleep unless she's lying on top of me as well (wakes the minute I put her in the cot). Looks like I'm not going to be doing any blogging for a while ...

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

The Haze Will Go On

Found this on someone else's website : Every time we go out we see it, we breathe it That is how we know it goes on. Far across the distance And spaces it's drifted And we know the haze will go on Near, far, wherever we are We can see that the haze just goes on Once more we close all our doors But it still seeps inside And it's useless to have aircon. Asthma comes just one time And lasts for a lifetime And never lets go till we're gone The haze should blow to Java SBY & Jusuf Kalla Then they'll know just what's going on ... It's here, that's just what we fear And we know that the haze will go on It'll stay forever this way till the northeast monsoon comes till then, it'll go on and on. Mood : amused

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

ST Article : Hybrid Cars

Meant to post this earlier, but all the bluster about the haze overtook me. I've always wanted to own an environmentally-friendly car; looks like that wish may be realised in the near future. However, at present the cost of hybrid cars is still beyond my pocket.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

Haze Update

Satellite pictures yesterday clearly showed the haze wafting in from Kalimantan. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ChannelNewsAsia has devoted an entire section to the haze. One viewer sent in this rather nice photo of the moon : The haze gave last night's moon an atmospheric orange cast as seen here beside one of the office buildings in the CBD. – Photo from Stuart Clyne Meanwhile, the problems looks no closer to being solved. Bother these politicians. The Straits Times Oct 17, 2006 Indonesians close ranks By Indonesia Bureau Chief, Azhar Ghani JAKARTA - AS EXTERNAL pressure mounts on Indonesia to deal with the haze caused by land-clearing fires, local critics appear to have closed ranks behind the flag. Observers say the turning point seems to have been President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's apology last Wednesday to Singapore and Malaysia for the recurring problem. Many critics have now fallen back on nationalist arguments, alleging that countries complaining about the haze have also been found wanting when it comes to cross-border issues. The local media, which had earlier lambasted the government for not doing enough to stop the haze from spreading, has shifted its focus to how Jakarta is doing its best to solve the problem. Observers also note how major dailies are persisting in apportioning some of the blame to Malaysia - allegedly a big buyer of illegal timber from Indonesia - even though State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar has said that most of the culprits are suspected to be Indonesians. While there is little new about accusations against Malaysia, Singapore is also now in the dock. Editorials in two dailies say that Singapore expects Indonesia to act fast when something affects the Republic adversely, but dithers when the positions are reversed. Last Thursday, business daily Bisnis Indonesia's editorial dwelt on the letter that Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had sent Dr Yudhoyono to express his disappointment over the issue. Mr Lee had said that Indonesia's handling of the haze problem could have an effect on investor confidence in the country and on Asean's credibility. While the editorial acknowledged that Indonesia was in the wrong and suggested that help from others should be accepted, it also said Mr Lee was effectively dictating what Indonesia should be doing. It added that Singapore was not ready to sign an extradition treaty with Indonesia and that the Republic also harboured suspects in corruption cases wanted by Jakarta. Indonesia has, for nearly a decade, been seeking an extradition treaty with Singapore. The prevailing view in Indonesia is that corrupt businessmen and politicians usually hide - and park their assets - in Singapore. Sunday's editorial in the daily Koran Tempo took a similar line, and suggested that there was nothing wrong in linking the two issues. It said: 'If Singapore says it had no intention of inviting rich Indonesians, especially those with ill-gotten gains, to its shores, we can also say that we did not intend to send the haze there. Blame it on the wind. Yes, this may be childish diplomacy, but who knows, it might just work.' And Sunday also saw Vice-President Jusuf Kalla saying that countries complaining about the haze should think about the oxygen that Indonesia's forests produce. International relations analyst Bantarto Bandoro felt that Jakarta's defensive posture was understandable but said that it did not mean the real problem had been forgotten. He said: 'Indonesians will not lose sight of the real issue and won't hold back if they still see that the government has not done much to improve a situation that has made Indonesia look bad.''

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

And So It Goes On

This is what the sun looked like outside my window this morning, through the haze : The haze is still dominating the news ... lots of articles every day, radio DJ keeps giving a PSI update every 20 minutes, & there are colourful new graphics as well. Guess our Director-General is having sleepless nights - D said he came over to the operations office at least 10 times the other day, no surprise what with the Perm Sec, Minister & people from MEWR all bugging him. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Oct 15, 2006 Air quality back to unhealthy level By Nur Dianah Suhaimi & Tracy Sua THICK haze shrouded the island for the second Saturday running yesterday, leaving many residents frustrated at yet another spoiled weekend. Yesterday morning the haze hovered around the moderate range, but from midday onwards conditions steadily deteriorated as southeasterly winds drove smoke from Kalimantan over Singapore, sending the PSI level soaring to a high of 116 at 10pm. A reading above 100 is considered unhealthy. And with the wind direction not forecast to change for at least the next 24 hours, weathermen said the haze is likely to stay in the unhealthy range for much of today as well. The smoky air affected several outdoor events yesterday evening. At Tampines East Community Club last night, a joint Mid-Autumn, Deepavali and Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration had to be cut short because of the worsening conditions. In Kaki Bukit, a Chinese opera performance was moved indoors to the community centre. For some Singaporeans, it could mean another weekend cooped up at home. IT consultant Nora Juradi said: 'The haze was so bad last weekend that I didn't even leave my house to buy food for breaking fast. I called for home delivery.' The 30-year-old said she would consider having another meal delivered to her doorstep today. An outing to Geylang Serai last night was ruined for Mr Richard Lim and his family. They started making their way home after just half an hour there because the bad air quality was starting to affect them. 'The haze is giving me a running nose,' said Mr Lim, 42, a sales manager. Engineer Henry Neo, 31, was upset that the haze wrecked his weekend plans. 'I was supposed to go house hunting tomorrow but it looks like I have to put it off. The haze problem has been around for many years and to us it is a helpless situation. I think only international pressure will help to solve this problem,' he added. Despite the bad air quality, people were eating and drinking outdoors in Orchard Road. The Hari Raya bazaar in Geylang Serai was teeming with shoppers. Secretary Madam Linda Ramly, 29, who was spotted outside the Orchard Road MRT station with her nine-month-old son in a pram, said: 'Life has to go on. It is not something that we can do anything about unless you choose not to go outdoors.' Five clinics around the island told The Sunday Times they had not seen any increase in patients with haze-related ailments so far. At government level, fresh attempts to tackle the root causes of the problem are under way. Yesterday, the Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, said a special ministerial steering committee would be finalised at the Asean environment ministers meeting in Cebu next month to push for a solution to the problem. 'Having this steering committee will help us impress upon the various affected countries and our partners to do a bit more. We have put in place a lot of programmes...but Indonesia has also admitted that the measures so far have been inadequate.'

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

The Malaysians Have Beaten Us To It! :-O

Writing a weather book, that is. This was published in 2003 but I only just chanced upon it while browsing through Select Books, a local book website. It goes without saying that I ordered it straight away. Am looking forward to reading it. As I mentioned before, I still hope Singapore will one day have its own little pocket guide book on weather for the public.

MonsoonMaiden

MonsoonMaiden

 

ST Article : Wind shifts make predictions hard

Oct 12, 2006 Wind shifts make predictions hard: NEA Weather forecast is tricky in the tropics where patterns are weak By Arti Mulchand WHY is the crystal ball so hazy, one might ask. It would be better if the weatherman could say in advance if haze levels were going to go up or down. But the fact is that the light and constantly changing winds, characteristic at this time of the year, make it hard to predict what will happen, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). The region is experiencing the tail end of the south-west monsoon, and will soon enter the 'inter-monsoon' season, so the winds are weak - five knots or less, compared to the usual 10 to 15 knots - and variable. 'Even a change in 20 degrees in the wind direction could make a huge difference in terms of which part of South-east Asia would be affected,'' said Mr Lam Keng Gaik, NEA's chief meteorologist. The winds are expected to continue shifting until later this month. That could also explain why some of NEA's predictions have not always been spot-on. On Friday, for instance, NEA had said the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) was unlikely to go beyond 100. The next day, it hit 150. The wind is one of two key factors that determine how clear the skies will be. The other is the hot spots at the source - south Sumatra, Jambi and the Riau Islands. In any case, weather predictions are 'never 100 per cent' accurate, Mr Lam said. On average, weather conditions in the tropics can be 'meaningfully predicted' - which means with 70 to 80 per cent accuracy - for one to three days. Forecasting is usually based on a combination of observation - looking at the actual burning and weather systems that are building - and predictions made by forecasters and computer 'models'. For wind direction, for instance, these 'models' work by taking a snapshot of current airflow around the world to project what could happen the next day or the day after - based on the state of the atmosphere and taking into account the amount of energy. Another problem is that slight changes in weak winds are picked up less easily than big ones, so errors could result. And while technological advances have made predictions more reliable and accurate than they were, say, 10 years ago, being in the tropics presents challenges, said the NEA. 'The weather systems in the tropics are weaker and smaller. The winds, for example, are generally lighter, and the thunderstorms are smaller in size, and small changes could slip through the observation net. 'That is why reliability of predictions is reduced to two to three days, not a week like in colder latitudes,'' Mr Lam explained. There is also currently a 'weak' El Nino effect, he said. El Nino is the weather phenomenon that sparked the 1997 haze, and could cause dry weather in Sumatra and Borneo. According to Associate Professor David Higgins, from the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore, that could mean less rain than usual. Most haze watchers are banking on the anticipated wet weather to help extinguish some of the fires. Drier conditions could also spark natural forest fires, warned Dr Rajashekar Bala, an air quality specialist from NUS' Faculty of Engineering. The widespread occurrence of peat in parts of Indonesia, including south Sumatra and Kalimantan, makes the situation worse since peat easily catches fire. Yesterday, satellite images detected 183 hot spots in Jambi and South Sumatra, and 637 in Borneo. The 24-hour PSI stayed in the moderate range, at 71. While it cleared up slightly in the morning, it deteriorated again in the afternoon when the prevailing winds changed from south-easterly to south-westerly. Rain over Sumatra yesterday morning also helped extinguish some of the fires, it added. Still, the NEA said the dense smoke which remains over central and south Sumatra, together with winds that are not in Singapore's favour, will mean hazy conditions are likely to continue today.

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ST article:From DIY Biodiesel to Slick New Venture

Well, we still have some way to go before biofuels are used in Singapore. But at least this is a beginning. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Straits Times Oct 9, 2006 From DIY biodiesel to slick new venture By Leong Chan Teik IF ALL cars in Singapore ran on diesel, some motorists here might discover a new hobby: making their own fuel. Mr Kom Mam Sun, 32, hit on the idea two years ago and it turned his life around. A former insolvency practitioner who used to deal with bankrupt companies, he started out making enough biodiesel to keep his Nissan truck running. That led him to start a small production outfit and sell to contractors. He is now working on plans for a plant elsewhere in the region. Singapore's first biodiesel plant is being built on petrochemicals hub Jurong Island at a cost of around US$20 million (S$31 million), and will start operating in six months or so. The Economic Development Board says there are other projects in the pipeline, but it is not able to say more just yet. Biodiesel has been gaining attention, not only because it is environmentally safe and low-polluting, but also because it can be made from such renewable raw materials as animal fats or vegetable oils, and even used cooking oil. It is usually mixed with petroleum-based diesel for use in vehicles. With many Internet websites showing how, do-it-yourself biodiesel has become a mini-craze with some motorists in the United States, among other countries. All it takes is a stock of used cooking oil, chemicals and equipment available from hardware stores. It's not rocket science. Large-scale commercial production looks likely to take off in and around Singapore, given the easy access to the region's abundant supply of palm oil. Some Singapore companies are planning biodiesel ventures in Malaysia and Indonesia, which together produce 80 per cent of the world's supply of palm oil. Biodiesel is largely unfamiliar to people here, but it is not a recent discovery. Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, for one, began experimenting with biodiesel more than 20 years ago and has a car that runs on it. More recently, it has gained attention and popularity as an alternative fuel source, not least because of the skyrocketing price of crude oil, from which diesel and petrol are derived. Prices soared from around US$20 a barrel in the late 1990s to as high as US$78 in July this year, but have settled at around US$60. For DIY biodiesel maker Mr Kom, high fossil oil prices provided a push to bigger things, and a career switch to being an entrepreneur. He raised $600,000 from investors, including government agency Spring Singapore, to build a plant in Tuas. Completed in June this year, it can produce up to 1,500 tonnes of biodiesel a month. Its raw material: used cooking oil collected from restaurants. Mr Kom sold his biodiesel to contractors in the construction industry, and began making a small profit. He has stopped production temporarily to focus on planning a plant for a potential client in a neighbouring country. A big step up from his modest operation is the multimillion-dollar plant coming up on Jurong Island. It is a joint venture between Peter Cremer of Germany, a global trader of commodities, and Malaysia's Kulim Berhad, which runs oil palm plantations. The plant will be able to deliver 200,000 tonnes of biodiesel a year and its palm oil feedstock will arrive either by truck or by ship, said Mr Luke Ng, a spokesman for the project. Its output will be exported mainly to the US and Europe. In Europe, one in two new cars runs on diesel. It is partly this demand that has encouraged investors to put their money into biodiesel. Investors are planning at least two more plants in Singapore. MAE Engineering, a Singapore company, says it is keen to build a plant on Jurong Island but does not yet have a start date for the construction. Australian company Natural Fuel has ambitions to build a biodiesel plant with a capacity of 400,000 tonnes a year. Its website says the proposed location of its plant is Jurong Island. Being close to a source of palm oil is something on which Singapore engineering company Advanced Holdings is banking. It recently secured a licence to start a 100,000 tonnes a year plant in Pahang - a project which joins more than 50 others that Malaysia has approved in the last 18 months. Singapore-listed company Wilmar picked Riau, in Indonesia, for a massive plant with an annual production capacity of 1.05 million tonnes. When it is completed next year, Wilmar will be the largest biodiesel producer in the region, if not the world, reckons research house Credit Suisse. These plants, along with those planned on Jurong Island, will export biodiesel to Europe and the US. So far, there is nothing planned for Singapore vehicles. Clearly, there is no incentive for vehicle owners to switch yet. ComfortDelGro, which operates a fleet of almost 16,000 diesel taxis, says biodiesel is not viable as it will cost more than petroleum-based diesel. Ms Elsie Sim, general manager of Shell's sales and operations, says the potential demand in Singapore is negligible. There are 128,000 diesel-run vehicles out of a vehicle population of 600,000. But biodiesel, if used, would make up only 10 per cent of a mixture of biodiesel and fossil diesel. The 10per cent limit is the norm around the world to meet current warranties for vehicles. Mr Eric Holthusen, Shell's fuels manager (Asia-Pacific), said biodiesel costs 40 to 60 per cent more to produce than fossil diesel. In Europe, tax incentives and legislation have helped drive up demand for biodiesel. Biofuels - a generic term for fuels made from biological sources - have to make up 5 per cent of European Union member countries' transport fuels by 2009, up from 2.75 per cent now. It is such European demand that is spurring the biodiesel industry in this region, said Mr Holthusen. Although Malaysia has approved dozens of new plants, he pointed out that there was no commercial use for biodiesel there either and that its planned output was headed for Europe too. For now, it looks like the cleaner, renewable diesel option may be made here, but will be used elsewhere.

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Carbon Trading

While reading about the Singapore government's Climate Change Strategy I wasn't too clear on how carbon trading works but this Shell advertisement actually does quite a good job of explaining it. Encouraging businesses to clean up Most people agree we need to reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. It is a global problem which needs global solutions. One way is to use the power of the world’s markets to provide businesses with a strong incentive to clean up. Carbon Trading is a new market and owes its origins to the worldwide agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions signed in Kyoto in 1997. Under the Kyoto Protocol, European countries agreed to reduce the emission of six greenhouse gases by 8% below 1990 levels by 2012. It was left up to the individual signatory countries to find ways of achieving this. How can the UK, and the other 25 member states of the EU, reach their targets? A major part of the EU’s response has been to launch the EU Emissions Trading Scheme at the start of 2005. This trading system puts in place laws obliging thousands of EU companies to hold one allowance for every ton* of CO2 emissions they release each year. The total volume of CO2 that can be emitted to the atmosphere from the companies that are covered has been capped and reduced below “business-as-usual” levels. But this is a trading system that offers carrots to those companies that reduce emissions below as well as sticks to any company that might fail to do its bit. How Carbon Trading works At the start of each year companies receive an allocation of allowances to emit a certain quantity of CO2. For example a company might receive 1 million allowances for 2005. If that company expects to emit more than this allowance then it must choose whether it’s financially better to make the necessary emission reductions or whether it’s more cost effective to buy allowances in the market from other companies. Either way the company has to meet its legal obligation to hold a volume of allowances equal to its actual emissions at the end of the year. The carrot appears with the market price of these allowances. For example, if the allowances trade at €24 (the price in September 2005) then a company can look at its activities to see if it can take action to reduce emissions at a cost of less than €24 per ton* of CO2. Companies may find new technologies or better working practices that can all reduce emissions more cheaply than buying allowances. So let’s assume that the company makes the decision to invest in an emissions abatement project since it figures it can do so at a cost of only €15 per ton* of CO2. In this case the company can quickly see a pretty big carrot! If it reduces its emissions below its actual allocation level, it will have surplus allowances, which it can then sell in the market. And if the company is making these reductions for €15 and selling the surplus allowances for €24, that’s a €9 per ton* CO2 incentive for cleaning up. In this way the market establishes a cost on emissions and a very clear incentive for reducing them! * Based on UK(long) tons (one ton = 2240 pounds) Note: US(short) ton = 2000 pounds

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Singapore's Climate Change Strategy (Part 2)

INDUSTRIES Our Strategy Our approach towards industries is a "win-win" one. We acknowledge that industries in Singapore produce largely for international markets. Therefore, regulations that are too tight may create compliance costs that force industries to relocate elsewhere, with an adverse impact on the Singaporean economy without a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, we will focus on improving the energy efficiency of our industries, which not only lowers their carbon intensity but renders them more cost-competitive in the current high oil price environment. The global concern with climate change also brings with it new business opportunities, such as the export of carbon-efficient technologies to support the sustainable development aspirations of other developing countries and the provision of carbon services such as emissions trading. These opportunities match Singapore 's environmental, engineering, and financial expertise, and we will engage local industries to seek out such opportunities. This would contribute to global efforts in mitigating climate change. We also have an Accelerated Depreciation Allowance Scheme that allows companies to fully depreciate the capital expenditure energy efficient equipment over one year instead of the usual three. This scheme encourages companies to replace old, energy-consuming equipment with more energy efficient ones and to invest in energy-saving equipment. Proposed Measures a) Promote Cogeneration Cogeneration, or combined heat and power, is an efficient method of generating both heat and electricity in an integrated process, and is applicable in instances where both electricity and heat are required. By making use of the waste heat generated in the combustion process, cogeneration can increase the energy efficiency of power generation from about 40%-50% to more than 75%. While cogeneration is a technology more commonly used in industrial facilities, it can also be extended to buildings in general. Cogeneration or even trigeneration (combined heat, power and chilled water generation) is currently used and test-bedded in some facilities in Singapore Trigeneration at a factory belonging to Aalst Pte Ltd. Aalst, a manufacturer of industrial chocolates, has installed a micro-turbine and waste-heat recovery system to test the trigeneration of power, heat and chilled water. The system was installed in September 2004 and is producing electricity, hot water as well as chilled water for use in the manufacturing process and for air-conditioning needs. BUILDINGS Buildings can be designed to encourage greater use of natural light and ventilation. Proper insulation also ensures that less energy is used to cool down buildings. Studies have shown that energy-efficient buildings can reduce energy use by 35%. The Housing Development Board (HDB) being the largest developer in Singapore, has been actively studying, adapting and implementing measures that are environmentally friendly and energy-efficient throughout its entire building and development process, from planning, design, pre-construction to post-construction. In its planning process, HDB emphasises the orientation of its buildings to minimise solar radiation into the units. It also uses insulated concrete wall for the gable ends facing the sun, and sun shades for western-facing dwelling units. To prevent heat transfer to the roof top units, there is an air gap to act as insulation between the secondary roof and the main roof. In the design of precincts, greening is conserved, and vehicle-free access connectors are provided for a better living environment. In common area lighting, HDB has introduced the use of electronic ballasts to save energy. Energy Savings in Buildings - Companies' Experiences City Developments Ltd installed motion-detecting lights in stairwells of 13 commercial properties. This is expected to reduce electricity use in stairwells by 93%. Promote Solar Energy The use of zero-emissions solar technologies will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As PV cells become less expensive and oil prices continue to rise, the 'sunbelt' countries along the equator would likely be among the first for which PV electricity is competitive on a commercial basis. In line with our national push towards developing our alternative-energy industry, we will explore the use of solar photovoltaic cells in demonstration projects in both the public and private sector. As noted, solar thermal water heaters are already an economically viable means of renewable energy. Currently, solar thermal water heaters cost more than conventional water heaters but have a payback period of 4 to 12 years. The government will further promote the usage of this clean form of energy, for example through awareness-raising. HOUSEHOLDS Green Corners The Green Corners programme was launched in March 2003. Retail stores participating in the programme commit to one of the following: (i) sell energy-labelled products exclusively (e.g. Hong Tar) (ii) allocate a section of their showroom to featuring energy-labelled products (e.g. Gain City), or (iii) ensure that at least 35% of their displayed appliance models are energy-labelled (e.g. Best Denki, Best Tech and All Best). This programme seeks to help consumers select energy-efficient appliances by increasing the visibility of energy-labelled products. COMPETENCY BUILDING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE Research and Development into Low-Carbon Technology Technology will play a crucial role in our ability to address climate change adequately in the long term. Research into renewable energy will decrease our reliance on carbon-intensive fossil fuels, while developing energy-efficient technology and carbon sequestration techniques will reduce the impact of our growing energy needs. Similarly, new adaptation technology will help us address our vulnerabilities to climate change. The objective of our research is not only to improve the current state of technology, but also to bring down production costs to a level that would make large-scale adoption commercially viable. In Singapore's context, our focus in the nearer term would be on energy efficiency technology as well as on solar photovoltaics and bio-fuels, both energy sources being abundant in the region. We will also continue to promote R&D in fuel-cells, both for micro-generation and transportation use. Growing our Environmental Industry The environment industry is estimated to be worth about US$600 billion globally and has been identified by EDB as a new strategic growth area for Singapore. A key contributor to this growth will be the alternative energy industry. Alternative energy technologies such as solar power and biofuels will be instrumental not just in our domestic efforts to address climate change, but also in global efforts as demand for renewable energy increases worldwide. Singapore's capabilities in engineering and environmental technology make it an attractive centre for the production of alternative energy products. Already we have attracted some investments in solar and biodiesel. These climate-friendly technological solutions if used in other countries can contribute to the global effort to address climate change.

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Singapore's Climate Change Strategy (Part 1)

I've been reading through the Singapore government's Climate Change Strategy recently, & I'm actually quite impressed by it. The panel seems to have explored every possible area in which the climate change issue can be addressed, & the policies mentioned seem sound & pragmatic (of course, reports like these are often beautifully written but don't reveal the entire reality, however in this case I'm being positive & giving them the benefit of the doubt ). I found much of the report interesting, having never realised that some of these measures have been implemented or for that matter, really thought much about the climate change issue locally. The technology is also fascinating. Have jotted down those parts that I found interesting : - Singapore became a Party to the Kyoto Protocol in 2006. - Being an island in the tropics, Singapore 's key vulnerabilities to climate change are likely to be: *Land loss and flooding *Water resource impacts *Higher energy demand and heat stress *Public Health Impact from Resurgence of Diseases *Impacts on island and marine biodiversity Land Loss and Flooding A sea level rise of 88cm by 2100 could result in some coastal erosion & land loss in Singapore. A higher sea level would also make it more difficult for rainwater to drain into the sea and this could aggravate inland flooding during storm surges and thunderstorms. In order to minimise the impact of this sea level rise, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) has been requiring all coastal land to be built to a level 40cm higher than the new sea level after an 88cm sea level rise. PUB also has a storm water management system in place to minimise flooding, and has been reducing the amount of flood-prone area by raising platform levels in the country and implementing a pumped drainage system where it is not possible to raise the platform level. Water Resource Impacts An 88cm water level rise in 100 years could also result in seawater flowing into some coastal reservoirs. Additional steel plates on tidal gates will be installed in the future to address this issue. Higher Energy Demand and Heat Stress Warmer temperatures would result in greater use of air-conditioning and thus higher energy demand. A range of measures exist that can lower ambient temperature, such as increased amount of greenery (e.g. city parks, rooftop gardens, vertical greening in buildings) and modifications to building layouts and designs (e.g. using building materials with better thermal properties, lighter-coloured building surfaces, designing building interiors and exterior building layouts for better ventilation and to maximise the wind tunnel effect). The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the National Parks Board (NParks) have been promoting rooftop and vertical greenery in our buildings through the planning guidelines. URA also works closely with NParks to encourage greenery along our streetscape islandwide, such as providing parks and green space, as well as planting strips along the road reserve and developments. The Housing Development Board (HDB) is in the process of introducing rooftop greenery to multi-storey carparks and residential buildings where feasible. Greenhouse Gas Emissions The main contribution to Singapore's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is carbon dioxide (CO2) from the use of energy to meet development and human needs. Unlike other countries, Singapore's methane production is negligible, as Singapore has no agricultural base. We also incinerate all our waste and the little methane emitted from the existing landfill is flared off. POWER GENERATION SECTOR The power generation sector is the single largest primary source of CO2 emissions in Singapore, accounting for about 50% of our carbon emissions in 2004. The electricity generated is then consumed by secondary users such as industries, commercial buildings, and residential homes. Our Strategy The strategy for power generation is to improve the power generation efficiency as well as to encourage the move towards cleaner, less carbon-intensive fuels (e.g. natural gas, renewable energy) while keeping in mind the need to keep electricity costs affordable. Our Efforts and Achievements Use of Cleaner Fuels In meeting our energy demand, we have always made a conscious effort to safeguard environmental interests. This was one of the reasons why conventional coal, with its environmental impacts, was never encouraged for power generation. In recent years, we have made significant progress in the power generation sector to make it even cleaner. Our electricity market was liberalised in 2001, thus introducing competition among the gencos. This created incentives for gencos to use the most efficient technology for power generation and created a market in which environmental interests are aligned with economic interests. Investments were also made in natural gas (NG) pipeline infrastructure. These measures have facilitated a significant switch from burning fuel oil to natural gas for power. Within just 5 years, the proportion of electricity generated by gas in Singapore has grown from 19% in 2000 to 74% in 2005, one of the highest levels in the world. This has led to significantly lower CO2 emissions from the power sector, as natural gas emits 40% less CO 2 than fuel oil per unit of electricity generated. Use of Energy-Efficient Generation Technology At the same time, the adoption of more efficient technologies such as combined-cycle gas turbines (CCGT) in gas-fired power plants has improved our overall generation efficiency from 37% in 2000 to 44% in 2004, reducing our CO2 emissions even further. Waste-To-Energy Singapore is also one of the few countries that incinerates all of its incinerable waste and recovers energy through the process. Since 2000, our waste-to-energy plants have contributed up to 2% of our energy supply. Thus, unlike other countries, Singapore produces negligible amounts of methane from landfills. Renewable Energy In terms of renewable energy, solar energy offers the greatest potential in Singapore . However, the cost of generating solar energy through photovoltaic (PV) cells is still higher than conventional grid electricity, and Singapore has been involved in various research efforts on renewable energy technologies to increase the yield and lower the cost. The National Environment Agency (NEA) encourages private and public sector partners to explore and test-bed new technologies (e.g. solar energy, fuel cell) through schemes such as the Innovation for Environmental Sustainability (IES) fund, which co-funds innovative environmental projects and the Environmental Test-bedding Initiative, which allows access to public infrastructure for test-bedding purposes. For instance, NEA, together with the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Energy Market Authority (EMA), facilitated the installation of a 14.5 kW p grid-connected PV system at the German European School in Singapore.

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1st Singapore Mt Everest Expedition, 1998

In early 1998, we heard that a team of mountaineers from Singapore was planning to try climbing Mt Everest. They were hoping MSS could provide them with weather data, & I remember two of the team (I think Khoo Swee Chiow & Johann Annuar) coming to our office to have a look at what was available. Unlike the days of Edmund Hillary, things are so high-tech now that we were able to email the data to them every day. Since that first expedition, there have been many others, but at the time it was a novelty especially as Singapore is a tropical island & does not have an alpine environment. Public interest in mountain climbing was limited to nearby Mt Kinabalu & Mt Ophir, & although a lot of Singaporeans do go trekking in Nepal, something like a full-scale climb of a mountain like Everest was unheard of. The media gave the team quite a lot of coverage, & at that time the Singapore Omnitheatre also decided to feature the film "EVEREST - The Movie". It was interesting discovering how gruelling the climb can be. I also approved of the respect our climbers showed for the mountain - when the press kept harping about how we were going to "conquer Everest", one of the team finally said, "We do not conquer Chomalungma (as the Tibetans call the mountain). Chomalungma, if she is willing, allows us to climb her." Edwin Siew & Khoo Swee Chiow at the summit Since we were providing them with weather data, I was more than a little interested in the team's progress, & was glad when two of the climbers, Edwin Siew and Khoo Swee Chiow, made it to the summit on 27 May 1998. I think a lot of people didn't really believe they would make it. There was, however, quite a furore when it was discovered that the two who planted the Singapore flag on the summit were Malaysians (Singapore permanent residents). David Lim, the team leader, has given answers to this and other objections. (Incidentally, both Edwin Siew & Khoo Swee Chiow have since taken up Singapore citizenship). After their success, the team was grateful to those who had supported & believed in their cause, & posed with various sponsors' banners for photos. They asked MSS if we had a banner (we had sent them the data free of charge) but it hadn't occurred to us to have one made. When I later contacted Johann Annuar to ask for a few photos for our Annual Report, he was most helpful. Johann was an undergrad at NUS at the time & I met up with him at his hostel (Eusoff Hall) to look through the photos. I asked him for an account of the weather conditions there, & came up with this report : "One of the major obstacles to the expedition’s success was the harsh weather conditions the team would experience. The timing of the expedition was scheduled with this in mind, taking place from early March (the end of winter) to late May (late spring) when conditions are mildest. At over 8000 metres above sea-level – almost the cruising level of most commercial aircraft – air is extremely thin; team members risked the danger of mountain sickness, and had to spend several weeks acclimatizing as they ascended from Camp 4 to Base Camp. With only a thin layer of atmosphere as a shield against radiation from space, sunlight, and in particular ultraviolet radiation, was very intense, so much so that temperatures during the daytime at Base Camp tended to become quite hot; a thermometer in one of the tents was known to have recorded more than 40oC at one time. During the nights, temperatures inside the tents would plummet to –20o C, while outside the tents, with windchill and other factors, it reached as low as –40oC. Khoo Swee Chiow showing two extremes of temperature Base Camp was mostly sheltered from the more severe forms of weather, being surrounded on three sides by mountains at the end of a valley. The weather there followed a diurnal cycle, with mornings starting off fair and temperatures becoming quite warm in the afternoons. At around 4pm, conditions would normally deteriorate as katabatic winds would start to blow down from the higher peaks, bringing extensive snow with them. Strong winds blow snow off the summit The team suffered a setback on 1 April when a violent windstorm swept down upon the camp around 2am, sending team members scrambling for cover as tent poles snapped and tents collapsed. Nearly all the Singapore team’s tents were destroyed. Team members estimated the winds ranged between 120-150 km/hr, while the sherpas present claimed that winds of such force are usually only encountered at much higher altitudes. The incident set the expedition back for about a week as new tents and equipment had to be obtained. Aftermath of the windstorm A bad spate of weather also occurred during the second week of May, when heavy snowfall reduced visibility to 200 metres and winds of up to 180 km/hr were whipping the mountain. The weather was so severe that the team built a helicopter landing pad near Base Camp in case they needed to be evacuated at short notice. Another threat to the expedition came from farther afield in the form of Tropical Cyclone “01B” which formed in the Bay of Bengal on 18 May. Its presence caused the Singapore team some anxiety as after making landfall, the remnants of the cyclone could easily track over to the Himalayas and cause heavy snowfall over the Everest region. This might have been so had the storm tracked north-northwest; fortunately, it chose to follow a more northeasterly track, making landfall near Chitaggong, Bangladesh, before dissipating on 20 May with minimal effect on the expedition."

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