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!

Consciously Coming to Copenhagen

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I told myself that if I won the raffle for Wind Europe 2019 I’ll come to Copenhagen and just spend part of my holiday trip there.

As of 31 October 2019, I won.  Wow, already booked my flight to Copenhagen via SAS on the 26th from Paris, will be a bit late, though. I will also be late on the 25th since I just flew in from Taipei on that morning.

I had to make major itinerary changes.  Luckily, it was also Paris Climate Finance Week and I have to attend to two (2) events on the 25th and the 29th.  However, this is part of my birthday week and celebration weekend. Crazy mix of business and pleasure. I am now only left with visiting Paris with just 2.5 days from November 30 and December 1. Will be flying back on December 2.  Huh! Maybe I should not come to the Climate Finance Day Event and just spend the day sightseeing. 

After the Air Conditioning Transition proposal for the NAMA Facility I feel  a strong urge to make changes, to work on renewable energy and more work on the energy transition or as the Germans say Energiewende and of course on climate finance.  I have no background on finance per se but I do have a strong background on GHG verification and ensuring the integrity of a ton of CO2eq mitigated.

Been listening to K-pop lately (long shot…), the last time I went to South Korea was on April 2014 for Myda’s birthday and as a side trip, I went to Songdo in Incheon to look for employment opportunities in the Green Climate Fund or GCF.  I never really fully understood the purpose of the GCF until I worked for GIZ which has been very keen on getting a GCF project.  The process was extremely similar to the call for proposals of the NAMA Facility funded by the German Environment Ministry and the British Ministry of Trade.  I am not sure if I had written about it in detail but we did participate on the 6th Call of the NAMA Facility which was an intense whirlwind I had this year.

It was crazy,  beating deadlines and soliciting commitments from our project partners. I don’t know if we could make it again, it takes a lot of integrity on our part, to prove ourselves beyond our idealistic principles of natural refrigerants in terms of coefficient of performance, safety and of course conformity assessment to international standards.  Sometimes though I feel like I don’t belong to this global program.  I love what I do but somebody at the North Sea seemed to be calling me. OK let’s go to Copenhagen, just try. We’ll see.

 

 

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.

 

Being able to look at the right direction

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Photo from the UNFCCC website in 2015 when Christiana Figueres visited TESDA to look at the liter of light lamp post.  This building is where I usually get my PHP 25.00 cafe latte in the TESDA Women’s Center

Good leadership requires setting the right direction for everyone in the organization, but what if the direction everyone is aiming  for is not really the right place to look at.  The results can be disastrous.

Currently stuck in my house due to heavy rains, can’t go to the bank, missed my doctors appointment since my physician also could not come to the clinic, yes, climate change can disrupt personal errands and completion of simple things, specially if you are in a climate vulnerable location.

It took a while before I recognized the blaring difference between energy efficiency and power supply. Power supply is a policy decision while energy efficiency is a personal decision.  I am trying to figure out how to change my blog categories making renewable energy and biofuels a subset of energy and energy efficiency and fuel efficiency as another subsets.  I have been working lately more on the energy sector as a golden pot of opportunities in the energy sector, everyone in climate policy is looking at renewable energy but greater potential is in energy efficiency.

Things like off-grid and grid integrated  concepts of energy supply makes much difference. It is a human right to see light in a dark night, to be more economically productive, for kids to study, to finish task and a house needs lighting. If that light takes its power from the grid, it contributes to carbon emissions because each watt of power used up some form of fossil fuel in the energy mix but if that light gets its power from a renewable source, a solar panel, wind turbine or microhydro run of the river or even a biogas generator, its basically zero emission. As long as we get something from the grid, we contribute to carbon emissions, but we have to acknowledge the fact that we need power to run things.

In doing development work, it is much more fulfilling to work on off-grid renewable energy than to grid-integrated renewable energy.  Because grid-integration is riddled with politics and stakeholder interests. Thankfully, I’m not working on it.

Energy efficiency is a lot more personal, you go home and you turn the lights on, if its hot you turn-on the air conditioner and turn it off when its cold. Every month you get your electric bill, you monitor and verify if what you did, like buy a more efficient refrigerator or LED TV has an impact to your electric bill, and your so happy it does.  A monthly reduction of a couple of thousand peso is worth the 15,000 peso Ref or 20,000 peso TV you bought last Christmas with your bonus. Maybe next year, high efficient air conditioner, who knows, there is such a thing as perfect karmic timing.

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!

Basking on the glow wire…safety testing to mitigate climate change

My mind is overloaded at the moment, completing reports and documentation of past activities for 2017. I welcome 2018 with a lot more things to do, including a pending proposal on a laboratory safety test that is currently  glowing the wires in my brain cells.

The goal is to reduce cost while providing an empirical basis for a risk assessment of low GWP refrigerant alternatives. I need to do more research to prove out a point.  We can always use review of literature from secondary data but that defeats the point of local capacity development in support of local policy and regulation. Maybe this is way below my priority list, as exciting as it may look.