Rewriting my Academic Temptation

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In 2013, I wrote my blog post on my academic temptation to dive back to graduate school. Back then, I was contemplating on getting a PhD and posted a stock photo of wind turbines. I never really understood why my subconscious chose a wind turbine, maybe now I know.

In November 2019, I had a opportunity to attend Wind Europe 2019 Offshore with the conference fees sponsored by the Global Wind Organization (GWO).  It was a great experience overshadowing my trip to Paris.  Honestly, I was not as excited for Paris than I was for Copenhagen.

From 2014, I performed a number conformity assessment jobs for Bureau Veritas. With Nordex Acciona on the legal and compliance requirements for setting up Wind Power Projects for BV Hamburg and I served as team lead for the GWO Certification of Consolidated Training Systems Inc. (CTSI) for BV Denmark. Both are fruitful experiences that allowed me to find opportunities to work on what the German’s refer to as the Energiewende allowing me to find a job opening for GIZ in which I guess I was the only qualified person to do technically, though not politically.

There are times when I would feel that political backing and patronage can be more valuable than your innate technical knowledge and experience.  For my family, nobody really knows what I’m working on except that it has something to do with climate change.

20191128_123055_HDRStrange things do happen after six years. I went back to graduate school not for a PhD, I ended up taking another masters degree on occupational health. Its a professional degree but I chose to write a thesis to get that goal to publish something in a peer reviewed journal.  Nobody really understood why I did that but I think its a truly satisfying experience. Anyway, not having  another masters degree is equivalent to just a bachelors degree after undergoing an equivalency assessment of  my academic records.

I don’t feel bad that I am not getting a PhD yet but I do feel motivated and inspired in writing something that would be of value to the Kigali Amendments to the Montreal Protocol.  Though I’m still at the proposal writing stage and getting through the initial hurdle of research ethics review on human subjects, I do feel optimistic about it…procrastination do sink in sometimes…still tempted to go further???

 

From Off-Grid to Offshore

Have mixed feelings about my future, but for the month of November 2019, I will try to be positive and slowly post my renewable energy journey or more like an Energy Transition journey from off-grid to offshore in preparation for 2020.

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Starting with an off-grid Solar PV installation at  TESDA. Please acknowledge that the picture originally came from me.  At this point, there is so much uncertainty about the future but several things are certain about Solar Energy.  The cost of solar has been reduced significantly that an installation can provide adequate returns in 5 to 7 years. Now its worth it, plus add an ultra-efficient cooling system running on natural refrigerants, then you can easily achieve net zero carbon emissions.

Frustrations? Yes, several, have had a long list of things that are extremely frustrating about this since I started blogging in 2009. The list even persists longer prior to that. Some have nothing to do with the slow uptake of renewable energy technologies.  Others have something to do with being in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Loving what I do, though not loving where I’m at. Looking forward to what I will post at the end of the month…when I reach offshore!

Energy efficiency is deeply personal

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A year since I wrote something here. Just finished supporting a Level 2 ASHRAE energy audit for a really big hospital, the one where I was born.  I didn’t expect how much enmeshed I have been in cooling and energy efficiency for the past three years since I was assigned the C4 project. Maybe Mr. Hicks was right, I’m quite passionate about this.

It has been 19 years since I first set foot in the AIM basement as an innocent fresh graduate during the transition from the CFC-11 phaseout to HCFC-123  in the early 2000s. Encountering the words ducting, compressors, chilled water, air handling units, fan coil units and of course refrigerants. I was just tasked to document the process into a procedure as part of the ISO 14001 management system but never did I foresee that one day, I can explain, support and justify the process to ASHRAE auditors on how the system works and how it can be further improved… even suggesting for district cooling as an ultimate solution…but don’t get your hopes high, they may only recommend unitary splits. Hydrocarbons?

Why did I get here? Was it fate or was it the deep rooted pain brought about by my distorted life of male dominance and misogyny.  I never really talked about it, but maybe I still have not settled, cried and move on. I still can’t use the word “forgave”. It is still haunting me. It has been 19 years since the electrical pilferage incident, I felt it was the ultimate betrayal, may be its child abuse, electricity is no simple matter but you need to deal with it in the utmost integrity.

I have not forgiven anyone, because no one realized it was extremely painful and hurtful. I have hated myself in the process and immersed myself in learning how it works and why not knowing can make you extremely selfish and corrupt. And I hate the fact that I was born into it and I had no choice. I firmly believe I don’t belong where my personal life is settled. No one can choose your parents, your siblings and not loving yourself enough can lead you to choose the wrong people in your life.

Not knowing and not loving your building can lead you to choosing the wrong air conditioners and just waste up energy in the process.  Its ironic how people condemning coal fire powered plants are not really looking at the demand side of how much people waste or even steal electricity just to waste it.  I still have not moved, I may need counseling.

 

Biggest task not fully understood

Nobody really understood what I was doing from July to December 2015. I just got back from my maternity leave not really wanting to do management system audits. I was extremely frustrated, nothing is happening, but since January 2015, I have been reviewing documents, procedures, guidelines, contractual requirements on the health, safety, security and environment (HSSE) for the fabrication of seventeen (17) modules for delivery to the Yamal LNG project. I was also locally managing a contractual arrangement with BV Russia.

Unsafe acts blasts from the past

I could not believe I’m back here again, but more safe and more hi-tech. Its stressful organizing hands-on training, no this is not my first time, but my second. The last one was in 2010, still working at the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) where I  was fortunate enough to manage capacity building projects on energy  and climate change  from the Philippine Council for Industry and Emerging Energy Research of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCIEERD) which was Methane to Markets (M2M) back then and  of course with the Department of Energy (DOE) whom I now partner with the Cool Contributions fighting Climate Change project.

What was the difference? Basically, health and safety and we’re more serious about it. I have so many frustrations working for BV not really using my training on occupational health and safety, but I was so fortunate that I can finally use whatever training I have had on safety and health on fighting climate change. Sometimes, things are just a perfect fit, though it can be a bit stressful…when its only you who know and not much contribution from others, not really getting their hands dirty. The video above was so dirty working on an anaerobic biodigester in a microscale pig-farm and so rowdy and noisy. May be good for learning but not really the best conditions for a technical hands-on training.

Below is my recent assignment for GIZ, but the focus was on hydrocarbon air conditioners.  I have no idea why we had a very rowdy crowd up there, because I was young and rowdy myself, not really taking safety seriously…

Looking back, as good as what you know

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Tried the free media offered by wordpress. I still feel that I am not ready for http://www.ecomaray.org or http://www.ecomaray.com or whatever, I’m simply happy getting this blog going and not really making money out of it.  So I chose a woodworker. Not in the biblical or religious sense where it is widely known that Jesus and his father Joseph are wood workers in terms of occupation.  But I need as much spiritual advise as I go through my day to day challenges.

Currently, I’m employed on a project basis as a senior advisor or commonly known as a technical consultant for GIZ, a German  development organization for a couple of projects funded by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Though my project is on climate change policy, health and safety has been very much highlighted in our work in the Philippines. I, for one have been working more on safety than in health.  To compensate, I am taking occupational health courses as the University of the Philippines in Manila, slowly  I will get another masters degree in a couple of years. I really just want to enjoy myself and learn, because sometimes its very difficult to to connect theory and practice.

It has been truly helpful to know something technical about health given the pressures of some corporate and political entities that have been trying to a put a stop on our efforts and using safety and health as a reason to delay low carbon technologies.  However, the additional knowledge on the chronic toxicity impacts of conventional chemicals I learned from occupational health has been very helpful in establishing a concrete basis for justifying the safety of low emission alternatives, strangely.

Yesterday, we had a session on occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS), strangely I was in a position different from my classmates, I used to be an auditor. Of course, as much as possible, I have to keep quiet, but I just remembered one unforgettable case in my HSE auditing where I saw a problem but could not report, why? I do not think no one in the audit team is competent enough to establish an issue concretely with adequate scientific and legal basis, even I questioned my level of knowledge to point out a problem with medical complexity.

Here is the case, wood dust is a known human carcinogen, backed up with robust epidemiological data that establishes a link with nasopharyngeal cancer  among woodworkers. I know people who have suffered and died from it, Saint Ezekiel Moreno, our town’s  parish priest at the turn of the 19th century (OK!) or Saint Joseph, father of Jesus.  Wow, retrospective cohorts!

A couple years back, I have seen case reports in an HSE audit in a furniture factory commissioned by a multilateral financial development agency.  Seven cases of nasal, nasopharyngeal and lung cancers with nasal malignancies of workers who have worked from 10 to 20 years in the company.  So what do I do? None, I will only be called a weirdo by my audit teammates who have mediocre knowledge on occupational epidemiology, remove it from my notes and move on. It was a highly frustrating situation. It was only yesterday when I remembered it.  I am more than that, thank you Lord!

Thank you for welcoming me to your world

 

After all these years working in conformity assessment, I finally had the time to get to know IEC in the Philippines. Thank you for the welcome, it was nice to see how these things work, I totally appreciate your support. It makes the work a lot easier given your passion and drive.  With the significance of IEC standards in refrigeration and air conditioning energy performance and safety and  add those other electrical and electronic equipment I encounter daily, I could not help but think what makes something I use safe and efficient, moreover mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

The 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognizes that the adoption of standards can provide an effective framework for undertaking climate change mitigation. Though the work was not really focused on climate change but on safety and efficiency of new and emerging technologies in electrical and electronic equipment and systems, the work does have concrete emission reduction potential.

Though the potential to  mitigate GHG emissions was not the intent, slowly these guys recognize the significance of the Paris Agreements and how the energy sector is now relying on improved energy efficiency as a major climate action to meet the goals in the Nationally Determined Contributions.

As of now…there’s more work to do.