Best of our wild blogs: 9 Jul 18

Pesta Ubin 2018 Report
wild shores of singapore

14 Jul (Sat): Save our Oceans - Sharks, Straws and more
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

The Butterfly Labial Palps
Butterflies of Singapore

Beting Bronok, Singapore 16 Jun 18
Offshore Singapore

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HDB looking into deploying floating solar panels in open sea

Today Online 8 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE — To accelerate the adoption of solar energy in the Republic, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) is looking into setting up floating solar panels in the open sea.

To do so, the HDB announced on Sunday (July 8) that it will start a research collaboration with landscaping firm, ISO Landscape to begin research to test its modular system — a support structure that can hold solar panels — in open sea conditions.

The agreement, which will be signed on Tuesday at the World Cities Summit, will cover the study and development of a floating solar system for coastal marine conditions, and will look at how to combat harsher conditions such as stronger winds and wave action.

HDB chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean said the statutory board has been spearheading solar initiatives and accelerating solar adoption across the island in the past 10 years.

“One way to further harvest Singapore’s solar energy is to look beyond the sky to the sea. This is a practical approach considering Singapore’s land constraints,” he added.

Currently, a large majority of solar panels are installed on the rooftops of HDB blocks, with more than 2,400 blocks installed or being fitted with solar panels. By 2020, about 5,500 HDB blocks will be fitted with or identified for solar installation.

However, as solar energy generation is dependent on surface area, Singapore’s land constraints remain a challenge, said the HDB, hence the decision to look at floating solar farms on water bodies.

On water, the solar panels can potentially receive maximum sunlight as these water bodies are typically free of obstruction.

HDB’s latest move comes after its modular system — designed in-house by their engineers — was successfully implemented in Punggol Waterway in 2011, creating a floating wetland system.

The advantages of the modular system, which utilises a unique interlocking solution to create a light-weight structure with high strength and rigidity, allows flexible configuration in any size and shape to carry heavy loads. It can also be easily assembled and placed anywhere on the water surface.

The system has since been deployed to support a floating solar system in Tengeh Reservoir, located in Tuas, earlier in May.

The HDB partnered with Million Lighting Co to develop a 100 kilowatt peak (KWp) floating solar system under the Tengeh project, which started in January this year. This system comprised of 864 modules, with each module able to support up to 75kg.

Together, they support 368 solar panels and inverters, weighing some 9,400 kg. The floating solar farm at Tengeh was officially launched in May, and is estimated to generate about 120 MWh of electricity a year, reducing carbon emissions by 60 tonnes annually.

With that success, the HDB is studying the expansion of its use in areas beyond greening. One possibility being looked into is the use of this system to hold solar panels on water bodies to harvest solar energy.

HDB looking at expanding use of floating system for solar panels in open sea
Audrey Tan Strait Times 8 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - In land-scarce Singapore, the quest to harvest more energy from the sun will soon go one step further.

The Housing Board (HDB) - one of the agencies leading the nation's efforts to ramp up solar energy use - is setting its sights on a novel area of research: the sea.

On Sunday (July 8), HDB announced that it will be signing a research collaboration with a landscaping firm in the coming week for the study and development of a floating solar system for coastal marine conditions.

The study, said HDB, would see how its floating system can withstand harsher environmental conditions in the sea, such as stronger winds and wave action.

HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean said that over the past decade, the agency has been spearheading solar initiatives and accelerating solar adoption in Singapore.

For example, solar panels have been installed or are being fitted in more than 2,400 HDB blocks across Singapore. By 2020, about 5,500 HDB blocks will be fitted with or identified for solar installation.

The energy generated by these panels usually go to common services such as lifts, water pumps and lighting for common areas.

More than 95 per cent of Singapore's grid energy comes from the burning of natural gas.

Though natural gas is considered the cleanest form of fossil fuel, its combustion still contributes to the production of greenhouse gases.

Renewable energy from the sun, however, would reduce Singapore's reliance on fossil fuels. Its use is also in line with the Republic's target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But considering Singapore's small land area, there is a limit to how much renewable energy from the sun can be harvested from solar panels installed on land.

"One way to further harvest Singapore's solar energy is to look beyond the sky to the sea. This is a practical approach, considering Singapore's land constraints," Dr Cheong said.

HDB's floating modular system, first tested in 2011 at a man-made waterway in Punggol to hold wetland plants, was subsequently deployed to hold solar panels at a solar panel test bed in Tengeh Reservoir in Tuas in May this year.

The latest research agreement, which HDB will sign with ISO Landscape during the World Cities Summit, a sustainability conference this week, will look at how the HDB-designed floating modular system can hold solar panels in open sea conditions.

Said Dr Cheong: "HDB will further collaborate with industry partners to explore how best we can expand the use of our system in open sea conditions for solar deployment."

Dr Thomas Reindl, deputy chief executive of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (Seris), said that Singapore has, in theory, a few areas where off-shore floating solar systems would be possible.

"The locations should have the right balance between the distance from the main island, to avoid lengthy submarine cable connections, and other marine uses, such as recreational activities, protected marine life areas or shipping routes," he told The Straits Times, although he said it was too early to point out specific locations.

He added that other than wave action, greater currents and the corrosiveness of salt water, another important factor to consider during the study would be biofouling - the growth of marine organisms such as barnacles - on floats.

"Singapore has some of the richest waters and a vibrant marine life, hence the growth of barnacles and other marine life on the floats has to be considered during design and operation. Also, soiling from birds could be an issue, which has been observed in near-coastal floating solar installations such as the Singapore test bed and systems in the United Kingdom," said Dr Reindl.

While HDB's announcement represented Singapore's first official foray into testing solar panels on the sea, there are other ongoing research projects studying the use of solar panels in inland water bodies such as reservoirs.

The Tengeh Reservoir test bed, for example, is being used to study the performance and cost-effectiveness of 10 different solar photovoltaic systems, including the one using HDB's engineering system.

Separately, national water agency PUB is also doing studies on how solar panels can be added to four reservoirs here to power its energy-intensive water treatment processes.

Said Dr Reindl: "Off-shore floating photovoltaic (solar) systems have great potential for Singapore. Theoretically, there could be solar installations deployed on nearby waters and it could help to speed up the deployment of solar PV in the city state. Singapore could set a trend in that area and become one of the largest adopters of such innovative technology worldwide."

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Smart mosquito traps to go on trial at the end of this year: NEA

LOUISA TANG Today Online 8 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE — Mosquito traps with sensors that can help identify the species and gender of a mosquito will go on trial at residential estates at the end of this year, potentially reducing the manpower needed to check the devices.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) showcased a prototype of the Smart Gravitrap at the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore on Sunday (July 8). The sensors capture information on how the mosquitoes fly and transmit the data to a back-end server with a database containing signatures unique to each gender and species of mosquito.

Gravitraps, which are black cylindrical containers with sticky surfaces that trap female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes looking for water surfaces to lay their eggs, have been in use for several years and about 50,000 have been deployed islandwide in the fight against dengue fever.

NEA officers inspect each trap every one to two weeks, but they will not have to do so for the Smart Gravitrap.

The NEA’s Environmental Health Institute developed the prototype in collaboration with local start-up Orinno Technology. It completed laboratory testing in March and found that the Smart Gravitrap could accurately count the number of mosquitoes trapped, as well as identify the species and gender to a “good level of accuracy”.

Data captured by Smart Gravitraps. Photo: Jason Quah/ TODAY

About 10 Smart Gravitraps will be used in the six-month trial at residential estates at the end of this year, through which the design of the devices will be refined.

“It will enhance the surveillance of mosquito population and spread of mosquitoes in Singapore, and help in our analysis of dengue prevention,” said NEA’s chief technology officer Patrick Pang.

Also showcased at the summit were shape-shifting cleaning robots developed by a team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

The team, led by Assistant Professor Mohan Rajesh Elara from the university’s engineering product development department, came up with about 12 different robots that can clean staircases, collect samples from drains and clean windows.

Some of the robots are able to attach themselves to one another and change configurations to get into tight spaces, which current-day vacuum cleaning robots are unable to do, said Asst Prof Mohan.

One of the prototypes — inspired by the Tetris video game — can be configured in seven ways, depending on the furniture it has to work around in order to clean the floor.

The prototypes are currently on trial at various parts of the SUTD campus, such as in food courts and drains.

The team will work with the NEA to conduct trials outside the university in the next one to two years.

Meanwhile, three researchers from Singapore Polytechnic (SP) have developed a way to recycle more than 90 per cent of solar photovoltaic panels.

The rapid adoption of solar power worldwide has raised questions on what happens to solar panels after their useful life, which is typically about 20 to 25 years. In 2016, the Asia-Pacific region became the largest solar-powered region in the world.

Currently, just half of photovoltaic panel materials are recycled, and valuable materials such as silver and aluminium may end up in landfills.

The waste generated when solar panels are discarded must be reduced, said SP research scientist Thong Ya Xuan, whose team is able to reclaim the tempered glass, copper ribbons, silicon wafers, aluminium compounds and silver from the panels.

Currently, it takes at least two people about two to three days to manually dissemble a full-sized panel for recycling, said Dr Thong. Her team aims to streamline and automate the process and recycle up to 100 panels a day.

The researchers are now exploring partnerships with several companies and government agencies to co-fund and build a demo photovoltaic recycling plant at the polytechnic.

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Five agreements inked to take Asean’s smart cities plan forward

LOUISA TANG Today Online 8 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE — In Thailand’s Chonburi province, a smart city — also the country’s largest industrial city — is aiming to rely solely on itself for power using renewable energy sources.

The Amata Smart City Chonburi, which houses 5,000 expatriates and 200,000 workers, plans to set up a Smart Grid Project and build a new waste-to-energy power plant, among other measures.

On Sunday (July 8), Amata signed a letter of intent with the Yokohama Urban Solution Alliance at the inaugural Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) Smart Cities Network (ASCN) meeting, to work on its smart energy management system.

It was one of five agreements inked between ASCN cities, solution providers and external partners on Sunday.

The ASCN was established in April and has 26 pilot cities such as Yangon (Myanmar), Cebu (the Philippines) and Luang Prabang (Laos) on board.

Asean has the opportunity to be a “frontier society” and pioneer new digital services serving the needs of its people, said Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the meeting.

By 2030, 90 million more people in the Asean are expected to be living in cities, and “middleweight” cities of between 200,000 and two million residents will drive 40 per cent of the region’s growth, he said.

Transport, housing and IT networks are already starting to feel the strain from this trend. At the same time, technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence are transforming the way people live, work and play, he said.

"We need to get ahead of this curve primarily because we need to ensure that our citizens will continue to have access to good jobs, good pay… and that they will be able to feel that this revolution benefits them, their families and their children for the future," he said.

The ASCN will respect the Asean members’ sociocultural, political and economic diversity. Each member will have their own national systems but they will be interoperable.

"Because we are diverse, we will not impose a monolithic system on everyone. Whether you talk about e-payments or planning or logistics, I do not believe that there will be a single dominant system across Asean," said Dr Balakrishnan.

According to him, Thailand and Vietnam are supportive of further developing the ASCN in 2019 and 2020, respectively, when they chair Asean after Singapore’s stint this year.

Speaking to reporters, Dr Passakon Prathombutr, Thailand’s ASCN chief smart city officer, agreed that different cities have to adapt their technologies to their own culture and climate.

“Technology in civilisations in Europe may not fit in Battambang (in Cambodia) or Chonburi,” said Dr Passakon, who is also senior executive vice-president of Thailand’s Digital Economy Promotion Agency.

Dr Balakrishnan said the ASCN’s framework and city-specific action plans are nearly finalised.

For instance, Banyuwangi in Indonesia has proposed a “smart kampung” that aims to improve access to public services for villagers and encourage them to sell their products on digital online markets.

The final framework is expected to be adopted by Asean leaders at the 33rd Asean Summit in November.

Sunday’s meeting – which took place at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, held alongside the World Cities Summit – was co-organised by Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Liveable Cities, in partnership with Temasek Foundation Connects.

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Australian winter brings cold weather to parts of Indonesia

Arya Dipa The Jakarta Post 8 Jul 18;

Several areas in tropical Indonesia have experienced an unusual temperature drop, a natural phenomena that occurs at the peak of the dry season during winter in neighboring Australia, a government agency has said.

The Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency (BMKG) said in a statement on Friday that it recorded the lowest temperature of the year in Ruteng, East Nusa Tenggara, at 12 degree Celsius on July 4. Low temperatures were also recorded in the mountainous areas of Wamena in Papua and Tretes in Pasuruan, East Java, the agency said.

The agency's meteorology deputy, Mulyono R. Prabowo, said a movement of air mass from Australia to Indonesia brought dry, cold wind to the archipelago.

Colder temperatures were also recorded in Bandung, West Java, over the past few days, with lows on Friday.

Ary Syahril Ramadhan, 33, said he felt the air was colder on Friday night when he went out to watch a World Cup match with his friends. He said he felt hungrier throughout the night and took a shower late in the morning to avoid colder water.

Bandung’s general temperature is typically hovering at 20 degrees Celsius, but on Saturday, the BMKG recorded a temperature of 16.7 degrees.

An officer of the BMKG's Bandung branch, Toni Agus Wijaya, said Saturday that the temperature was indeed colder than usual, as drops in temperature usually happened only from dusk to early morning, with the warmest temperatures recorded at noon, when there are fewer clouds in the sky, Toni said.

He suggested that people stay fit by eating fruits and vegetables to weather the cold and dry air.

Over the last 40 years, Toni said, the lowest recorded temperature in Bandung was 11.2 degrees Celsius in August 1987, while the hottest was 36 degrees in April 2011. (evi)

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57 dead as Japan scrambles to rescue flood victims

AFP 8 Jul 18;

The death toll from record rains that have devastated parts of Japan rose Sunday to at least 57, officials said, as rescue workers and troops struggled in the mud and water to save lives.

Local media put the toll at 67, with dozens more people missing and the number of fatalities expected to rise.

Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned of a "race against time" to rescue flood victims as there were still many people whose safety has yet to be confirmed.

The torrential downpours have caused flash flooding and landslides across central and western parts of the country, prompting evacuation orders for more than two million people.

The rain has completely blanketed some villages, forcing desperate residents to take shelter on their rooftops with flood water swirling below as they wait for rescue.

The meteorological agency issued its highest level alert for two new regions on Sunday, before lifting them after rains began subsiding later on the day.

- Roads turned into rivers -

In the town of Mihara, in the south of the Hiroshima region, a let-up in rain laid bare the devastation wrought by the downpours.

Roads were transformed into muddy flowing rivers, with dirt piled up on either side as flood water gushed around the wheels of stranded cars.

"The area became an ocean," said 82-year-old Nobue Kakumoto, a long-time resident.

"I'm worried because I have no idea how long it will stay like this."

Several dozen residents descended into the village to inspect the damage after spending the night in a tiny shelter on higher ground.

Masanori Hiramoto, a 68-year-old farmer, didn't bother observing the Japanese custom of removing his shoes when he entered his ravaged home, the woven tatami mat floors carpeted with mud.

"I don't even know where to start cleaning. I don't know what is where," he told AFP.

Elsewhere, work crews tried to clear multiple small landslides that coated roads, rendering them virtually impassable.

"We are carrying out rescue operations around the clock," Yoshihide Fujitani, a disaster management official in Hiroshima prefecture, told AFP.

"We are also looking after evacuees and restoring lifeline infrastructure like water and gas," he added.

"We are doing our best."

In western Okayama prefecture, rescue operations were underway to evacuate several hundred people including children and the elderly from a hospital, some by helicopter.

Those in the building became trapped when a nearby river burst its banks and flooded the area, and a nurse inside told local media there was no power or water, and food was running short.

"Around 1,000 people were seeking rescue by Sunday morning, but we don't yet have a complete picture of the disaster, which is enormous," Mutsunari Imawaka, a spokesman for the prefecture's disaster management office, told AFP.

"We are working hard to rescue them as quickly as possible. Time is running out. "

- Homes washed away -

Over 50,000 rescue workers, police and military personnel have been mobilised to respond to the disaster, which has left entire villages submerged by flooding, with just the top of traffic lights visible above the rising waters.

"I was in a car and massive floods of water gushed towards me from the front and back and then engulfed the road. I was just able to escape, but I was terrified," 62-year-old Yuzo Hori told the Mainichi Shimbun daily in Hiroshima on Saturday.

Though the rains began last week when a typhoon made landfall, the worst downpours hit from Thursday, when a construction worker was swept away by floodwaters in western Japan.

The toll has risen steadily since then, and the conditions have made rescue operations difficult, with some desperate citizens taking to Twitter to call for help.

The floods have halted production at plants across the affected region, with reports of electricity, water and mobile phone network outages.

The disaster is the deadliest rain-related crisis in Japan since 2014, when at least 74 people were killed in landslides caused by torrential downpours in the Hiroshima region.

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