China Government takes care of the poor

April 28th, 2012
Travelling on my own in China for two months was a revelation as I instinctively made comparisons with Singapore. To be sure, China is repressive as Singapore, if not more so. However, some  observations may be of interest to Singaporeans.
As a driver, naturally a few things about parking struck me. Roadside parking was generally free and parking lots even on main roads in mega cities like Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian were generally absent unlike in Singapore where paid parking lots  are seen even in residential areas. Parking wardens were rarely seen. Despite free parking, drivers I noticed did not cause obstruction to others.
The Chinese government could easily make billions from car park operations if LTA were their model.
I asked the locals if they had to pay any annual road tax for their motorbikes or electric bikes, of which there are miliions. They shook their heads and said, “Nothing.”
Chinese public parks are good places to observe how the locals spend their leisure hours. What struck me was how the elderly enjoyed themselves dancing, singing or playing musical instruments. No permits were needed for these activities unlike in Singapore.  I couldn’t help bemoaning how our elderly are slaving away as cleaners.
At shopping malls, restaurants, fast food eateries, public buildings and so on the cleaners were mostly the young or middle-aged. China employs an army of cleaners to sweep away the litter, and elderly ones are a rarity.
And for those who drink, they might be amazed by the fact that a big bottle of Tsingtao at a supermarket costs about 70 cents! And cigarettes are dirt cheap.
I’m perturbed by the fact that in Singapore our seniors, some in their 70s, still need to slave away at menial jobs. Another thing that irks many people is that the government here finds every excuse to squeeze every cent  from the public in the form of all sorts of fees and taxes. One of the most ridiculous is the exit toll for motorists leaving Singapore at Tuas or Woodlands.
Relating my experience to an Indian friend about the free parking everywhere in China triggered an angry response: “F*** bloody government. You know, now they’ve introduced paid parking even at night in Little India”.
Travel, as they say, broadens the mind but it also invites the inevitable comparison with your own country. And it may make you wonder whether your government has conned you all along.

amused bystander: 
April 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm  (Quote)

Its always hurting to see old people, some of them not able to even walk properly, working in the public toilets. And these people are Singaporeans. Not only Singaporeans, but people who have worked and contributed to the country’s economy for many years, in their own small ways.
Now they are discarded by the govt as their productivity go down with age, and the primary responsibility, the govt says, lies on their children to support them financially. But the govt does not realise that the children THEMSELVES, are having a difficult time paying for their own upkeep, let alone their parents. And the govt does not realise that some of these old people have no children, or children that are alienated from them, for whatever reasons.
Some of these old people still have some human dignity in them, and they refuse public handouts. They rather live rough and work until their bones give in totally. Currently, none of the old-folks homes are govt operated, all are organised by private charities, albeit with govt subsidies. As a recent article by a learned professor pointed out, no provisions are made by the govt for intermediate and long term care for the aged in Singapore; only hospital bills. This is going to be a critical problem for ALL OF US, SINGAPOREANS! Its not just a problem for the old people now. It will be our problem when we grow old as well, and we will certainly grow old!
When I see these old people slogging away like this, I somehow think, will I be like them later?



April 29, 2012 at 3:12 am  (Quote)

That is why I rather migrate to China under communism rule where they take care of the poor, rather than Singapore with all talk and no action, it is a wayang to con those who never know what is happening in the other side of the world, they persecute me by denying me all access to money, wait til I get to China I will get my revenge on Singapore, and bankrupt the entire PAP. If I still don’t get where I want to go, very soon the DBS deal will go down the drain, you will never get your approval from Indonesia parliament.

Fully automated navigation with robotics loading/unloading Port design

Anyone who is interested in coming up with a proposal for a new generation of container ports can now do so in a competition that has a top prize of US$1 million (S$1.4 million).
The aim of the Next Generation Container Port (NGCP) Challenge is to achieve three targets – port performance, productivity and sustainability – for a new generation of container port that is set 10 years in the future.
Jointly organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI), the NGCP Challenge was officially launched today by Captain M Segar, MPA’s Assistant Chief Executive (Operations), at Mandarin Oriental Singapore.
Participants will be required to consider several operating specifications such as a handling capacity of at least 20 million twenty-foot equivalent units, 24/7 operations and a 90 per cent berth on arrival for ships.
Their design should also be operational within the given land profile and also be environmentally sustainable.
These specifications are challenges currently faced by many established container ports around the world.
The winning proposal will be announced at the next Singapore Maritime Week (SMW), which will take place from April 7 to 12, 2013.
In addition to the top prize, MPA and SMI will also set aside $5 million in R&D grant to develop promising proposals and concepts.
Before the winner and commendation awards are announced, shortlisted proposals will also be displayed in a public exhibition that will be held in conjunction with SMW 2013.
“As a leading container hub port, it is important for Singapore to continually innovate and leverage on cutting-edge technologies to operate the container ports of the future.
“The NGCP Challenge serves to support SMI’s R&D strategy on R&D for breakthrough applications as well as to develop our thought leadership in port design,” said Mr Heng Chiang Gnee, Executive Director of SMI.
Registration for the international competition is open till July 31, 2012.
Participants will have to submit their proposals by Dec 31, 2012.
Submissions will be evaluated by an international panel, comprising representatives from the Singapore government and the maritime industry.
For more details on the challenge statement, visit
Solved it in 5 minutes, you want more details, show me a video of the exact port operation and I will customised the solution.
My design contains a radar system that will be triggered when the ship approaches port which will also trigger a range of cctv cameras that will guide the ship to dock. Upon docking, cctv cameras will activate robotics which will automatically unload the containers and transport them to a storage facility that is like an open warehouse which is automated and can store up to 30 stories high of containers compared to the present. Everything is controlled by computers, you need to key in the details and robots will fetch the containers for you, even load it up to ships as it is intelligent and every process is automated, requiring less than 10 staff for every shift, running 24/7, 365 days a year. Sorry but I will not be participating in the contest, it is well below my standards and I am not a design architect.
– Contributed by Oogle.

What happens when oil rises to US$300 a barrel? Are you prepared for it?

Oil fell from the highest level in almost four weeks in New York, trimming a second weekly gain, after a cut in Spain’s credit rating renewed concern that Europe’s faltering economy may curb fuel demand.
Futures slipped as much as 0.8 percent after New York-based Standard & Poor’s reduced Spain’s rating to BBB+ from A and said the nation may have to provide fiscal support to the banking sector as the economy contracts. Prices also dropped after reaching technical resistance. West Texas Intermediate crude may decline next week after economic confidence in the euro-region fell and the U.S. economy grew less than forecast, a Bloomberg News survey showed.
“The economic outlook is a little bit worse than some months ago because of the big risk in the euro zone,” said Sintje Boie, an analyst at HSH Nordbank in Hamburg who predicts prices will remain near their current levels until the middle of the year. “It’s more the geopolitical risk that’s holding prices up.”
Crude for June delivery slid as much as 81 cents to $103.74 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $104.30 at 1:36 p.m. London time. The contract rose 43 cents yesterday to $104.55, the highest close since April 2. Prices are up 1.2 percent this week and have posted a similar gain this month.
Brent oil for June settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange declined 34 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $119.58 a barrel. The European benchmark contract’s premium to U.S. futures was at $15.28 a barrel.

Chart Resistance

Oil in New York has technical resistance along its 50-day moving average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Futures halted yesterday’s advance near this indicator, which is at $105.10 a barrel today. Sell orders tend to be clustered near chart-resistance levels.
Prices may decrease next week on lower euro-region confidence and signs the U.S. is struggling to address unemployment levels, a Bloomberg survey showed. Sixteen of 37 analysts and traders surveyed forecast oil will drop through May 4. Twelve respondents predicted futures will rise and nine estimated there will be little change.

Economic Outlook

Gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S., rose at a 2.2 percent annual rate in the first quarter, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. That followed a 3 percent pace in the prior quarter and compared with the 2.5 percent median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
U.S. jobless claims fell to 388,000 last week from a revised 389,000 the prior week, the highest since early January, according to Labor Department data yesterday. An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the 17-nation euro area slid to 92.8 from a revised 94.5 in March, a report by the European Commission in Brussels showed.
“It’s quite clear in West Texas terms that we’ve moved back into the trading range between $103.50 and $108.50, and at this stage we’re not looking at any factors over the next few weeks that are likely to drive us out of there,” said Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific Pty in Sydney. “Europe is an important economy to the globe but we don’t see it as a major engine of growth.”
The countries using the euro accounted for about 12 percent of global oil demand in 2010, according to BP Plc (BP/)’s Statistical Review of World Energy. The U.S. was the biggest crude user, responsible for 21 percent of world consumption.
Libya plans to surpass its pre-rebellion crude output by about June and will soon start its largest refinery that was damaged during fighting last year, Nuri Berruien, chairman of state-run National Oil Corp. said yesterday. Production is expected to climb above 1.6 million barrels a day, he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Sharples in Melbourne at bsharples@bloomberg.netTo Grant Smith in London at
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss on
Do not think oil prices will gradually increase in price, it will spike tremendously when they cannot find enough oil from their exploration to fuel the world’s demand, the cost of exploration will increase tremendously as oil becomes scarce, and the producers will pass the costs back to the comsumers. Therefore are you prepared to pay US$300 a barrel in 10 years time? What will be the impact? What will happen to your petrol driven car? Are there any alternatives? Who can afford to pay oil at that price? There is no replacement of oil consumption for aircrafts, but there are alternatives for others if you act now. What is Superinflation? What will be the prices of homes then? Car prices? Will drop because no ordinary person can buy a petrol driven car, they need to look for battery powered, CNG etc. Then Food? Jobs? The list goes on. Only the rich can afford to buy energy from a centralised utility grid provider, most will install solar panels to cut their utility usage, utilising decentralised energy grids. Are yo prepared for the future? Singapore is walking down the path of Ireland when that happens, no reforms, mass emigration, collapse of banking and property markets, what resources do we have to combat global competition, the Celtic Tigers of the EU will be a reminder of the once Tigers of the Asean economy.

– Contributed by Oogle.

Tiny crystal advances computing

The University of Sydney
Friday, 27 April 2012

A tiny crystal that enables a computer to perform calculations that currently stump the world’s most powerful supercomputers has been developed by an international team including the University of Sydney’s Dr Michael Biercuk.
The ion-crystal used is poised to create one of the most powerful computers ever developed, with the results published in the journal Nature on 26 April 2012.
“Computing technology has taken a huge leap forward using a crystal with just 300 atoms suspended in space,” said Dr Biercuk, from the University’s School of Physics and ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems.
“The system we have developed has the potential to perform calculations that would require a supercomputer larger than the size of the known universe – and it does it all in a diameter of less than a millimetre,” said Dr Biercuk.
“The projected performance of this new experimental quantum simulator eclipses the current maximum capacity of any known computer by an astonishing 10 to the power of 80. That is 1 followed by 80 zeros, in other words 80 orders of magnitude, a truly mind-boggling scale.”
The work smashes previous records in terms of the number of elements working together in a quantum simulator, and therefore the complexity of the problems that can be addressed.
The team Dr Biercuk worked with, including scientists from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, Georgetown University in Washington, North Carolina State University and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa, has produced a specialised kind of quantum computer known as a ‘quantum simulator’.
Ever since Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman highlighted the potential of quantum computing in the 1980s, scientists have been attempting to build quantum computers capable of solving some of the largest and most complex problems. Special-purpose quantum simulators have tremendous potential to solve a variety of challenging problems in materials science, chemistry, and biology, with much greater efficiency than conventional computers.
The research team’s revolutionary crystal exceeds all previous experimental attempts in providing ‘programmability’ and the critical threshold of qubits (a unit measuring quantum information) needed for the simulator to exceed the capability of most supercomputers.
“Many properties of natural materials governed by the laws of quantum mechanics are very difficult to model using conventional computers. The key concept in quantum simulation is building a quantum system to provide insights into the behaviour of other naturally occurring physical systems.”
Much like studying a scale model of an airplane wing in a wind tunnel to simulate the behaviour of a full-scale aircraft, tremendous insights about difficult and complex quantum systems can be gleaned using a quantum ‘scale model’.
“By engineering precisely controlled interactions and then studying the output of the system, we are effectively running a ‘program’ for the simulation,” said Dr Biercuk.
“In our case, we are studying the interactions of spins in the field of quantum magnetism – a key problem that underlies new discoveries in materials science for energy, biology, and medicine,” said Dr Biercuk.
“For instance, we hope to study the spin interactions predicted by models for high-temperature superconductivity – a physical phenomenon that has yet to be explained, but has the potential to revolutionise power distribution and high-speed transport.”
The experimental device provides exceptional new capabilities which allow the researchers to engineer interactions which mimic those found in natural materials.
Remarkably they can even realise interactions that are not known to be found in nature, engineering totally new forms of quantum matter.

Editor’s Note: Original news release can be found here.

How to solve N.Korea food problems

Tapioca is a starch extracted from cassava (Manihot esculenta). This species is native to Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, from where the plant was spread by Portuguese and Spanish explorers to Africa, the Philippines and most of the West Indies, being now cultivated worldwide. It had and has many names, including cassava, manioc, aipim, bitter-cassava, boba, mandioca, macaxeira, manioca, tapioca plant, camote, yuca ˈjuːka) (not to be confused with yucca).
In India, the term “Tapioca” is used to represent the root of the plant (Cassava), rather than the starch.[1][2] In Vietnam, it is called bột năng. In Indonesia, it is called singkong. In the Philippines, it is called sago.
The name tapioca is derived from the word tipi’óka, the name for this starch in the Tupí language of South America.[3] This Tupí word refers to the process by which the starch is made edible. 
However, as the word moved out of Brazil it came to refer to similar preparations made with other esculents.

Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used in numerous Asian dishes and broths. They are sold in various processed shapes, and are available in fresh, dried, and canned versions.

Black rice, also known as purple rice or forbidden rice, is a kind of sticky rice which is one of several black colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine black rice. Black rice is high in nutritional value and contains 18 amino acids, iron[citation needed], zinc, copper, carotene, anthocyanin and several important vitamins. The grain has a similar amount of fiber to brown rice[1] and like brown rice, has a mild, nutty taste. In China, black rice is claimed to be good for kidney, stomach and liver[citation needed]; these claims have not been independently verified or established.
It is a deep black color and turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its anthocyanin content, which is higher by weight than that of other colored grains but more limited in the number of different anthocyanin species present.[2][3] It is suitable for making porridge and it can also be used for making dessert, traditional Chinese black rice cake, bread and so on.
In China, noodles made from black rice have been produced.[4] The California based bakery Food For Life Baking Company has also begun producing “Chinese Black Rice” bread with the deep purple color of cooked black rice.[4]
Thai jasmine black rice is grown in Thailand. Jasmine rice gets its name for the fragrant jasmine scent it produces while being cooked. Black jasmine rice, while not as prevalent as the white and brown varieties, adds more vibrant color to meals, but it also provides additional health benefits.[5]

Fertilised Eggs to bear chickens 
Another method of fertilisation occurs among animals that normally reproduce sexually, through parthenogenesis: when the gamete of a female is not fertilised by a male, yet produces viable and unique offspring that are not clones. Only DNA from the mother is inherited, but it is not identical to her. Normal eggs of the mother become fertilised, without sperm, and development proceeds normally. This occurs naturally in several species and may be induced in others through a chemical or electrical stimulus. In 2004, Japanese researchers led by Tomohiro Kono succeeded after 457 attempts to merge the ova of two mice, the result of which developed normally into a mouse. This was achieved by blocking certain proteins that would normally prevent the possibility.[10]

New energy grid lower costs

As his friends gather on the lamp-lit porch to swap stories, children play in the yard, Bloomberg Markets reports in its May issue. Inside, after decades of cooking in the dark, Anand’s mother prepares the evening meal while a visiting neighbor weaves garlands of flowers.

April 12 (Bloomberg) — The villagers of Halliberu in southern India are on the crest of an electricity revolution. Bangalore-based Simpa Networks Inc. has been installing solar power equipment in their non-electrified houses. From the poorest parts of Africa and Asia to the most-developed regions in the U.S. and Europe, solar units and small-scale wind and biomass generators promise to extend access to power to more people than ever before. Bloomberg’s Natalie Obiko Pearson reports on the story featured in the May issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine. (Source: Bloomberg)
A Selco solar panel on the roof of a house in Halliberu village, Karnataka, India. Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg
Lights powered by Simpa Networks Inc. solar system illuminate farmer a house in Halliberu village, Karnataka, India. Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg
A customer uses his mobile phone to recharge his solar power unit in Halliberu village, Karnataka, India. Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg
Anand, 25, peels Areca nuts under lights powered by Simpa Networks Inc. solar system at his house in Halliberu village, Karnataka, India. Photographer: Kuni Takahashi/Bloomberg

In October, Bangalore-based Simpa Networks Inc. installed a solar panel on Anand’s whitewashed adobe house along with a small metal box in his living room to monitor electricity usage. The 25-year-old rice farmer, who goes by one name, purchases energy credits to unlock the system via his mobile phone on a pay-as-you-go model.
When his balance runs low, Anand pays 50 rupees ($1) — money he would have otherwise spent on kerosene. Then he receives a text message with a code to punch into the box, giving him about another week of electric light.
When he pays off the full cost of the system in about three years, it will be unlocked and he will get free power.
Before the solar panel arrived, Anand lit his home with kerosene lamps that streaked the walls with smoke and barely penetrated the darkness of the village, which lacks electrification. Twice a week, he trudged 45 minutes to a nearby town just to charge his phone.

Electricity Revolution

“Things are much easier now,” Anand says, describing how he used to go through 5 liters (1 gallon) of fuel a month, almost half of it bought from the black market at four times the price of government kerosene rations. “There was never enough.”
Anand is on the crest of an electricity revolution that’s sweeping through power markets and threatening traditional utilities’ dominance of the world’s supply.
From the poorest parts of Africa and Asia to the most- developed regions in the U.S. and Europe, solar units such as Anand’s and small-scale wind and biomass generators promise to extend access to power to more people than ever before. In the developing world, they’re slashing costs in the process.
Across India and Africa, startups and mobile phone companies are developing so-called microgrids, in which stand- alone generators power clusters of homes and businesses in places where electric utilities have never operated.
In Europe, cooperatives are building their own generators and selling power back to the national or regional grid while information technology developers and phone companies are helping consumers reduce their power consumption and pay less for the electricity they do use.

‘Power to the People’

The revolution is just beginning, says Jeremy Rifkin, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Third Industrial Revolution (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).
Disruptive to the economic status quo, the transformation opens up huge opportunities to consumers who may find themselves trading power in the future much as they swap information over the Internet today, he says.
“This is power to the people,” says Rifkin, who was once best known as a leading opponent of the Vietnam War.
For now, though, the alternative-energy industry still relies on subsidies in much of the developed world, and governments are reining in aid for clean energy as they struggle to trim their budget deficits.
Germany, the biggest market for solar panels, plans to cut subsidies to owners of photovoltaic generators by up to 29 percent in April and said it would impose monthly reductions thereafter.

End of the Boom

“Governments are running out of cash,” says Benny Peiser, director of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation, which is described by its chairman, former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, as “open-minded on the contested science of global warming.”
“The boom will eventually come to a halt once the subsidies come to a halt,” he says.
And yet as subsidies are wound down in Europe, investors such as Boston-based Denham Capital Management LP are shifting their attention to developing markets. In March, Denham invested $190 million in a joint venture with Madrid-based Fotowatio SLto build solar parks in South Africa and Latin America.
India has 30 gigawatts of mainly diesel generators that could be replaced by cheaper solar power tomorrow, says Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary at the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. (One gigawatt is enough energy to power about 200,000 U.S. homes.)

Utilities Under Pressure

Within a decade, installing photovoltaic panels may be cheaper for many families than buying power from national grids in much of the world, including the U.S., Japan, Brazil and the U.K., according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The ultimate losers in this shifting balance of power may be established utilities. They’ve invested billions of dollars in centralized networks that are slowly being edged out of markets they’ve dominated.
“Over the next decade, utilities are going to be under a lot of pressure,” says Gerard Reid, a partner and energy banker at London-based investment adviser Alexa Capital.
Reid predicts that power prices will come down across Europe as new entrants that create electricity from renewable sources break up traditional utilities’ oligopoly.
As it is, with big utilities also generating more and more power with alternative fuels, renewables provided 20 percent of the European Union’s power in 2010, up from 14 percent five years earlier, according to the Paris-based Renewable EnergyObservatory. The EU aims to raise that share to about 34 percent by 2020.

Enter the Phone Company

European utility stocks are already suffering as entrants using new technologies pour in to meet demand. The Bloomberg European Utilities Index touched a seven-year low in September, and German power futures contracts were in the doldrums as of March 12.
The changing makeup of power generation is attracting companies from other industries as well as smaller developers such as Simpa Networks, the venture capital-backed developer that installed Anand’s solar panels.
Bharti Airtel Ltd. (BHARTI), India’s biggest mobile operator, for example, has signed on as a partner to a pay-as-you-go solar microutility called SharedSolar to sell airtime and electricity to Bharti’s 50 million subscribers in Africa.
In many underdeveloped regions, it hasn’t made economic sense for utilities to build the capital-intensive infrastructure required to deliver energy from traditional sources.

‘Second Great Leapfrog’

In parts of Africa, the poor, lacking electricity, buy power in the form of batteries, kerosene and candles; in effect, they’re paying as much as $4 per kilowatt-hour, according to Vijay Modi, a Columbia University professor who heads the SharedSolar project. That’s about 66 times what a resident of Manhattan is charged for electricity.
Simpa co-founder Paul Needham says filling the power gap will entail a transformation similar to the one in which mobile phones bypassed traditional landlines to deliver telecommunications services to vast populations in India and Africa.
“What we’re seeing is the beginning of the second great leapfrog story,” says Needham, who estimates that 1.6 billion people in the world don’t have access to electricity.
In Europe, competition from the growing renewables sector is forcing traditional utilities to become greener.

Dinosaur of the Year

Two years ago, environmentalist group Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union dubbed Chief Executive Officer Juergen Grossmann of RWE AG (RWE), Germany’s second-largest utility, dinosaur of the year for his role in helping to persuade the government to extend the lifetimes of the country’s nuclear reactors.
In February, RWE invited reporters to Essen, the heart of Germany’s coal and steel industry, to tout the 22 billion-euro ($29 billion) company’s expansion into renewable energy and smart grids.
RWE created an online store selling energy-efficient appliances and this year will install 100,000 smart electricity meters in Muelheim an der Ruhr, once a Ruhr Valley center of coal mining and steelmaking.
“The new-energy transformation is greener, more decentralized,” Bernd Widera of RWE’s power distribution unit said during the 2012 E-world conference in Essen.

Cheaper Electricity

The most-advanced technologies and policies are being road- tested in Germany. In Feldheim, a village of 43 homes near Berlin, Michael Knape strides across the soccer pitch.
As the area’s mayor, he’s showing a group of visitors from China, Japan and the U.S. the field’s brand-new floodlights, financed by levies on the local wind farm and powered by a mix of wind and biogas generators.
The lights are hooked up to a 450,000-euro local grid that in October 2010 made Feldheim the first German municipality to run entirely on its own renewables-fueled generators.
“Here you can see what the future could look like,” Knape tells the group. “The people aren’t green idealists. They are on board because the electricity is cheaper.”
Local families pay 17 euro cents per kilowatt-hour for power, 31 percent less than what EON AG, Germany’s biggest utility, charges the residents of neighboring Niemegk for electricity. Feldheim’s prices, set by the cooperative that owns the local power grid, are guaranteed for 10 years.

‘Plus-Energy’ Housing

Feldheim’s households put down about 3,000 euros each to help pay for the village heating system. Half of the 1.7 million-euro cost was covered by a grant from the European Regional Development Fund. The remainder was financed with a bank loan paid back through heating bills.
Germany is now the world’s biggest renewable power producer, with 53.8 gigawatts of wind and solar generators.
“The people in Germany have taken matters into their own hands and overhauled the energy mix despite vicious resistance from the big utilities,” architect Rolf Disch says.
Disch is an iconic figure in the world of energy innovation.
His home in Freiburg, southern Germany, which he built in 1994 and still lives in, was the first in the world to produce more energy than it consumes, he says. Disch built a tract of 59 energy-producing homes in the town.
Wolfgang Schnuerer, a retired elementary school principal, bought a “plus energy” house in Freiburg in 2004, paying about 15 percent more than the cost of a similar property with a traditional power supply.

‘The Great Transformation’

Through a south-facing, triple-insulated glass facade, sunlight pours into the house, which is heated, when needed, by a local biomass cogeneration plant.
His heating bill, in a town where winter temperatures drop to as low as minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), was just 144.64 euros or all of 2011 — 96 percent less than what he had paid at his previous home.
Schnuerer, 75, an asthma sufferer, says he stopped taking cortisone four months after moving into the house because its filtration system ventilates the air every 90 seconds, which has alleviated his respiratory condition.
“I call it our feel-good house,” he says. “We’re saving carbon emissions and making money with it.”
The feel-good factor will spread, says Mahesh Bhave, who teaches business strategy at the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode in Kerala.

‘Things Will Be Different’

“As renewable energy prices drop, every household and business has the incentive to become a stand-alone power plant,” he says. “This is the great transformation of our time.”
For Anand, solar-powered electricity is a pathway to prosperity: It allows him to work a few extra hours each day on chores, such as shelling betel nuts, that need to be done in the light. Local children can boost their chances of one day getting a better-paying job by extending their study time.
Other villagers are catching on. His neighbor Chandra, who also uses only one name, 42, has bought the same solar system as Anand’s, and six other families are awaiting installation.
Looking across the rice paddies, Anand takes in Halliberu’s 60 homes.
“Come back in a couple years and everyone will have one,” Anand says. “Things will be different.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Sills in Madrid at; Natalie Obiko Pearson in Mumbai at; Stefan Nicola in Berlin at
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Serrill at; Reed Landberg at
Imagine if all HDB rental flats have access to such facilities, it will lower your utility bills by more than 50%, and payment can be pay as you use via mobile phone, debit cards or cash cards thru the Internet. Now if these can be installed in the rural areas of china, or even North Korea? (hint, hint)what can these changes  mean to add to the prosperity of the poor?
– Contributed by Oogle.