The Warriors are currently atop the Western Conference standings, but from the looks of it, Kevin Durant is shaping up to be every bit as in demand off the court. Roughly a month ago, YouTube announced that it was partnering with the star small forward’s video business to offer up original sports programming. Now Apple’s getting in on the action. The company announced today… Read More
Apple Music is expanding its subscription music service to 82 new markets — or nearly all of the countries where the service is available, according to people with knowledge of the company’s plans. 79 markets launched today and an additional three markets will go live February 26. Some countries where students memberships — verified by UNiDAYS — are now available… Read More
Facebook will begin allowing news publishers to run paywalls inside Facebook’s iOS app starting March 1. Facebook started testing paywalls on Android in October, but at the time it couldn’t come to an agreement with Apple about how subscription revenue would be taxed. Read More
Quietly, Apple has been bringing together a number of moving parts in its strategy around virtual and augmented reality hardware; and now one more element of that has come to light. eMagin, a maker of OLED miniature displays, says that Apple, along with LG, Valve, VR entertainment maker Immerex (which now appears to be operating publicly as Luci), and Stillwater Holdings, are collectively… Read More
This week’s episode is all about the future. Thanks to technology, the highest capacity rocket platform ever, the Falcon Heavy, blasted into space.
Meanwhile, down here on Earth, Uber is working to make urban air travel a thing, and companies are developing products and conducting studies that can detect diabetes, just by wearing the Apple Watch. This is the world we live in.
On this… Read More
After teasing the feature back in September, Apple is adding support for live news in the TV app on the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV — 9to5mac first spotted the new section. For now, it’s quite limited as it only supports a handful of channels for American users. If you’re running the most recent versions of iOS and tvOS, the feature should now be live. I’m running iOS… Read More
In the few anxiety-ridden months of waiting for our very first Apple store to open its glass doors, all we had were carefully-released snippets of information to cling onto.
Speculations were also rife – will the Singapore store have country-specific specials like Japan’s Fukubukuro tradition? With its strict employee training system, will we also be able to enjoy exceptional customer service from its staff?
While none of that was revealed, one piece of information stood confirmed – that homegrown solar energy provider Sunseap will be the sole provider of the store’s power supply.
This also meant that the store is also the first establishment in Singapore that runs entirely on solar energy.
Said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives in a statement to CNET:
We’re thrilled to be working with Sunseap and the government of Singapore to pioneer new ways to bring solar energy to the country and bring Apple even closer to our goal of powering our facilities around the world with 100 percent renewable energy.
Fast forward to the end of May 2017, and we took a tour of the space, fully aware (and relieved) that its many bright lights and screens were powered by clean energy.
But while the store has been getting a lot of attention, the local company that has been lighting up its beautiful facade still remains in the shadows.
Perhaps this is also due to the not-so visible locations of their panels as most of them mounted on the usually inaccessible rooftops of tall buildings.
Recently, the same company had also partnered with the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIES), and participated in the largest floating photovoltaic (PV) testbed in Singapore at Tengeh Reservoir.
We talked to the founders of Sunseap, and found out more about the company that is helping to make solar power a mainstay source of energy in Singapore.
When An Accountancy Major Met An Engineering Major
The founders of Sunseap are Frank Phuan and Lawrence Wu, both of whom are Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumni that graduated in 2000.
Albeit being in different courses – Lawrence in accountancy and Frank in engineering, they met through a group of mutual friends and it was only 9 years later, in 2009, that they both had the common identification that there was a growing trend of renewable energy.
It was also then that they conceptualised the business model for the company.
Says Lawrence, “We realised that as much as people want to go green, buying a solar system is like paying up to years of power consumption upfront, and it is not a realistic option for most people. We wanted to remove the financial burden and technicality of maintaining and operating a solar system.”
We want Sunseap to provide affordable clean energy solutions to everyone.
This was when they stumbled upon the solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) model, where solar energy adopters need only to pay for their usage through electrical bills on a monthly basis – something like how we pay for our bills now.
In 2011, they formed their first solar energy business entity – Sunseap Leasing Pte Ltd.
It was in the same year that they had their first solar PPA project, which was with 40 blocks of HDB flats under the Punggol-Pasir Ris Town Council.
Since then, they have installed panels on “thousands of HDBs in various town councils including estates in Jurong, Tampines, and Punggol”.
“We Had To Literally Grow Our Entire Value Chain”
Frank’s experience with his family business, which started manufacturing solar panels in 1979 also helped greatly in the setting up of Sunseap.
“I spent time in my family business of solar panel manufacturing since I was a teenager. My experience helped me to develop technical knowledge on solar panels and the business.”
Lawrence’s accountancy/banking background also helped with the financing aspect of the business, “particularly in raising the requisite funding and helped put in place the capital structure required to implement our solar projects”.
But even with their solid backgrounds, the duo admits that it was “especially tough” for their business to secure significant funding during their early years.
“We found out that because the industry is rather nascent, we had to educate financial institutions on our business models to help them understand and familiarise with it. It wasn’t easy but through this process, we were able to secure more debt financing options to fund our projects.”
Their first project – two MegaWatt-peak (MWp), across 40 rooftops to 200 MWp across 2,000 rooftops – was also at a scale that the industry, still at its infancy stages, wasn’t ready for.
“There was simply no supplier who could install the amount of solar systems required in such a short span of time. There were only a handful of contractors that were experienced.”
We had to literally grow our entire value chain. With the demand we created, we have to create the supply.
Taking matters into their own hands, they then started training workers in the construction and the mechanical engineering sector – almost transforming some of these companies overnight to become solar companies.
“All the construction firms, civil engineering, mechanical and electrical firms, they hired many foreign workers so we had to train everyone, in terms of safety, working at height and train them on what it means to install solar systems.”
“At one time, our project had 600 to 700 people.”
From their first project to now, they have swelled from four staff (including the founders) to around 90-strong currently.
As for funding, energy giant Royal Dutch Shell has also just invested in them for an undisclosed sum as part of a planned collaboration on solar projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
Clinching Big Projects
Over the years, Sunseap has also managed to clinch an impressive portfolio of clients – mainly comprising businesses in the commercial and industrial sectors.
Apart from those they won through government tenders, some of their bigger clients include Panasonic, Jurong Port, Cambridge Industrial Trust, and United Technologies.
As expected, both count the Apple project the ‘breakout’ for their company.
Shared Lawrence, “The Apple project we announced in 2015 where we signed an agreement to provide its local operations with 100% clean energy […] allowed us to become a full-fledged utilities company.”
“A solar system atop its corporate office in Ang Mo Kio helps to achieve a portion of its energy needs, while our offsite clean energy supply model fufills the rest.”
He admitted that while the project was indeed challenging, it had helped them to develop their second business, Sunseap Energy Pte Ltd, that specialises in offsite clean energy supply for businesses who are keen to utilise clean energy, but do not have access to a roof to install a solar system.
“We Want You To Use As Little Energy As Possible”
Not just to save the environment with green energy, the company also has a mission to help Singaporeans save money – by producing enough solar energy so that its price in the market would eventually be low enough for all the afford.
I think solar energy has the opportunity to become the lowest priced and the most affordable energy globally, and when that time comes, it will not make any sense to choose any form of energy other than those generated from renewable sources.
“We want to be the company that will enable everyone to reach that destination.”
We don’t want you to use energy from traditional sources, we want you to use as little energy as possible.
“We want to get into the business of energy efficiency where we encourage you to use less energy. That is also in line with the Singapore Government’s vision.”
But given that Singapore is a land-scarce country with limited deployable land, they admit that this is still a problem they’re trying to solve alongside the aid of government agencies.
“One way of doing so is to look at other deployable areas apart from rooftop space, such as water bodies. Our floating PV project at Tengeh Reservoir seeks to determine the feasibility of expanding solar systems onto water bodies to maximise deployment in the land-scarce country.”
They’re also excited about the liberalisation of the electricity market in Singapore this year, which will enable residents in public housing estates to procure their energy from various energy retailers – including Sunseap.
“Thereafter, we would be able to supply households with the clean energy generated from the solar systems installed on their rooftops or other rooftops in Singapore.”
With the emergence of energy ‘marketplaces’ like Electrify.sg (which has also worked with Sunseap and SERIS) that allow consumers to choose from different forms of energy, including renewable energies like solar, the Sunseap team believes that similar platforms would only pop up in time to come.
Going Beyond Local Rooftops
And it’s not just local rooftops that they’re installing the panels on – they’re also in Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, India, Malaysia, and Australia.
Of course, expanding overseas also comes with its own set of problems, especially when it comes to how the business climates are structured.
“Projects outside of Singapore typically take more time to structure.”
“Varying electrical tariff rates and rate structures, regulatory environment, counter-party credit worthiness, just to name a few, in various countries are some specific examples of challenges when it comes to developing, pricing, and financing these projects.”
But their end goal isn’t just profit-driven – they also want to bring electricity to rural areas in developing countries.
“Our projects which we have an interest in include a 10 MegaWatt-peak (MWp) solar farm in Cambodia, in Bavet City, Svay Rieng, and a 140 MWp solar farm in India, in the state of Rajasthan. We are currently developing about more than 300 MWp of projects in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.”
An Open Concept Office With No Barriers To Communication
With a strong focus on innovation, as evident from their projects and constant push to go further in providing consumers affordable solar energy, their office is also open-concept in a bid to encourage the sharing of ideas.
There are no physical boundaries between co-workers – everyone seats in the common working area, including Lawrence and myself.
“With the physical barriers removed, employees work in teams, be it departmental teams, or cross-departments teams that are formed according to project demands. That way, employees’ exposure is not limited. The involvement of employees from varying departments often brings us a new perspective to the problem presented.”
With a good majority of their staff coming from Gen Y (1980s-early 90s), and the remaining belong to Gen X, they found that employees in general “want to work in an environment where they are free to give and receive feedback on their performances. They also want to be listened to, and to be held in high esteem”.
However, as not everyone is at mark-to-market salaries, in the long run, we intend to compensate selected outstanding performers through share options in the company.
Other than tangible rewards like shares and salary increments, they also provide incentives like employee bonding sessions, annual townhall meetings, flexi-hours, and so on.
“We want all our team members to know that each and every one of them is an important member of Sunseap.”
“Nobody is less or more significant than another. While it may be challenging for us to compete in terms of tangible compensations, we do our best to take care of our employees, by understanding their various needs and motivations.”
With their journey just starting, they’re now hiring for positions in business development, energy retail, monitoring and marketing.
So what’s a tip that potential interview candidates should take note of?
Shared Lawrence, “We look for a cultural fit, and people with good attitude and the drive to learn. Whilst job scope and past experiences are important, given our new businesses, it isn’t always the case where a new hire has the exact same experience as per the job description.”
To Engineer Hopefuls: “Don’t Limit Yourself”
Ending off the interview, I asked the duo what they’d advise engineering graduates who are mulling a career in the clean energy industry – given that it’s still a relatively less traditional path to take.
For Frank, exploring the many facades of the industry is the way to progress:
The energy industry is a very big field, do not limit yourself to just one area. Most importantly, you need to step out to try the areas you are interested, and look for opportunities to refine your skills.
We’d like to thank Lawrence, Frank and the Sunseap team for their time! To find out more about them and their projects, follow their Facebook page here.
This article is written in collaboration with engineroom.sg.
Featured Image Credit: Asia for Good, Sunseap
The post These 2 NTU Alumni Are Powering Singapore (And Its First Apple Store) With Solar Energy appeared first on Vulcan Post.
- Apple Watch with GPS+Cellular will be available in Singapore from 9 February 2018. Prices start from S$598.
- It currently only works on the Singtel network as they are the only telco that supports eSIM.
- Singtel’s NumberShare add-on for the Apple Watch costs S$6.90 a month.
I love my Apple Watch.
Since September last year, it has found a home on my wrist for most of my days and on those times that it isn’t, I would feel this awkward emptiness on my left hand.
Around that same period, Apple actually launched a cellular version of their smartwatch but of course Singapore wasn’t part of the first countries to get it. At the time, no telco in Singapore was able to support the embedded SIM (eSIM) in the Apple Watch GPS+Cellular.
That changes this Friday.
For the last 24 hours, I managed to get my hands on said Apple Watch. So here’s what makes it tick.
What The Apple Watch Cellular Is
From 9 February 2018, the cellular Apple Watch will be released in Singapore and Singtel users will be the first ones to enjoy the added connectivity on their wrists.
That’s because, Singtel is the only telco in Singapore right now who has updated their networks to support eSIM. You will also need their new NumberShare add-on to your postpaid-plan.
For an additional $6.90 a month, it enables you to use your existing data and talk time from your plan on the Apple Watch cellular.
Just like the regular GPS Series 3 before it, the cellular Apple Watch is also an extension to your iPhone. However since it has cellular connectivity, you can technically leave your iPhone behind.
The way that Apple is distinguishing the cellular version from the GPS only version is by splashing red accents everywhere.
On the box, you can tell by the red Series 3 text.
On the watch, it’s the big red dot on the crown.
With the cellular Apple Watch Series 3 comes a new exclusive watch face, the Explorer. The four green dots in the middle of the watch face is the cellular signal indicator, while at the corners by default lies shortcuts to the Phone and Maps apps.
As always, your can customise the watch face simply through Force Touch.
This Apple Watch works exactly the same as its non-cellular sibling, with the difference being that when you are far away enough from your phone, the cellular bits kick in letting you get up to LTE connectivity directly on your wrist.
When the cellular Apple Watch does indeed come into close proximity of your iPhone, it will automatically dial down the LTE, while syncing to your device via the traditional wifi and bluetooth route.
Previously, you can already take calls GPS only Apple Watch Series 3 using the microphone and speaker on the left of the watch face, but that’s if you have your iPhone nearby.
Now, you can break free from your iPhone during those times you’re out for a quick errand or workout, and still want to be contactable in case someone calls you. Call quality was good too, almost as if you answered calls from your iPhone… almost.
Oh yes, one more way that the cellular Apple Watch differentiates itself is that LTE is written in the text encircling the sensors on the bottom.
What The Apple Watch Cellular Is Not
The experience of the Apple Watch cellular is familiar, and truth be told, not much has changed from teh GPS-only Series 3. You can now do more with an almost similar smartwatch.
To put it bluntly, this is not an iPhone replacement. We are still years away from that happening, but it is a future possibility.
I see this as the kind of wearable for people who more often than not, have their iPhones die before the end of the day because they forgot to charge it while in the office.
Imagine being by the roadside after partying and not having to worry when your phone went flat halfway through the night, because you can just hold up your wrist and book an Uber home.
Even in day to day use around Singapore, if you happened to forget to charge your phone before you leave home from work, you rest assured that you will still have all the public transportation information you need still be accessible from your Apple Watch.
Apple Music wise, I’m not the kind to stream music on the go in favour of data conservation. That’s not to say that having access to more than 45 million songs isn’t a good thing, it is.
It’s just that my usage habits dictates me to save a playlist or two offline into the Apple Watch instead.
Also, a popular feature on Apple Music has finally made its way into the Apple Watch as a separate app. The Radio app takes all your favourite digital stations from Apple Music under one roof.
Here, you can catch up with resident DJ, Zane Lowe as you listen to the latest music on Beats 1.
Aside from the apps mentioned, users can also explore other cellular optimised apps such as Carrot Weather, Shazam, and City Mapper.
So Is It Worth The Wait
The Singtel exclusivity will definitely hear some outcry from subscribers from other telcos, but the fact remains that the cellular Apple Watch is the world’s best selling LTE enabled wearable.
If you are a Singtel subscriber, and you use a previous generation Apple Watch, this is a worthy upgrade.
Once you are used to using your wrists for a great deal of daily actions like Apple Music playback, Apple Pay, fitness, or simply rely on it for notifications and bite-sized information, it’s hard to go back.
For anyone who has never owned an Apple Watch, this too will be the perfect time to go all in.
Underneath it all though, I think that the underlying thing that I am most excited about is for future Apple devices. Now that a telco like Singtel is supporting eSIM, this paves the way for future smartphones and tablets to do away with physical SIM cards.
No more having to carry a pin around and fumbling with the SIM tray, and nano SIM cards that you can easily lose.
The post 24 Hours With The Cellular Apple Watch Is All You Need To Fall In Love With A Wearable Again appeared first on Vulcan Post.
Earlier this week, iOS source code showed up on GitHub, raising concerns that hackers could find a way to comb the material for vulnerabilities. Apple has yet to confirm or deny the legitimacy of the posted material, but all signs point to it being the real deal — a fact seemingly confirmed by a DMCA takedown notice issued to the platform. Read More
While Apple continues to focus its eye on how to step up its game in the area of original content, it’s also striking some partnerships that could help put its name on the map specifically in sports coverage. The company is adding a new section in Apple News that will be dedicated to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The Olympics section will appear in the “For You”… Read More