Friday, December 23, 2011

Q&A : MyView Judge – Pil-Bae Song

You have worked in the energy field for many years. When did you notice that there became extreme interest in access/energy for all? 

Pil-Bae Song (in gray sweater) on the job
The Asian Development Bank has supported hundreds of energy projects in Asia and the Pacific over the past four decades. Over the past 20 years or so, we financed more than $25 billion in projects. Energy has fueled the region’s remarkable economic successes and helped to end poverty for millions. It was in 2009, however, that I noticed great enthusiasm within ADB for tackling energy poverty. This was when we were formulating our new energy policy, in which maximizing access to energy for all became a pillar. We recognized that many opportunities for increasing income, furthering education, improving health, and strengthening gender equality are simply out of reach for people without access to energy. Through our Energy for All Initiative, we are working to significantly empower the region’s poor through access to energy, which has been underpinned by the United Nations work for Energy for a Sustainable Future.

What are some of the best energy for all projects that ADB has done? 

In Nepal, after a devastating flood damaged transmission towers
Three in particular come to my mind, the first being Viet Nam’s rural electrification program. In 1975, only 2 or 3% of poor households had electricity. By 2009, 96% of both urban and rural households were electrified. This remarkable achievement in a relatively short time can be attributed to abundant hydropower coupled strong government commitment, public support, and multiple funding sources.

In the Philippines, we worked in close partnership with the country’s largest microfinance network to create the market for solar lanterns in the least electrified provinces.

In a remote village in Nepal, a small wind power project is providing electricity to homes, schools, and medical clinics. The beauty of this project is that it is locally managed: the community cooperative manages the system and collects the fees for its upkeep.

When people discover electricity as household customers what kind of reactions do you see?

I can’t stress enough how life can be transformed with access to reliable and modern energy. I was profoundly struck by a person I met in Kabul in 2009 who said “electricity is our life.” For the first time in more than a generation, nearly all of the capital’s four million people could enjoy the benefits of electricity thanks to an ADB-financed project. Can you imagine going without electricity for nearly three decades?

Making modern energy available, accessible, and affordable is essential for creating life-changing benefits. Women and children often benefit the most. In some places, they spend countless hours collecting fuel, fetching water, and performing manual labor. One woman I met in a village in Sri Lanka in 2003 shared with me that security lighting at night saved her village from wild elephant attacks and that she had started a small business selling rice cakes to supplement her family’s income. She also said her children could also spend more time studying.

Is the Energy for All Initiative going to help the majority of the hundreds of millions of people without access to electricity?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that 1.9 billion people in the region still use traditional biomass -- such as wood, charcoal, and animal dung -- for cooking and heating. About  700 million of these people lack basic access to electricity. ADB is taking the lead in the region on expanding access to energy. We have so far invested more than $1.5 billion to provide access to electricity or modern fuels to more than 1.2 million households. But we can’t do this alone. The IEA estimates that $34 billion a year will be required globally to meet the target. This is only 3% of the total investment in energy infrastructure over the next two decades, making this target absolutely within reach -- both in terms of technology and financing.  Partnership, however, is essential. We are working with many partners to find solutions to energy poverty and scale up finance and investment for access to energy. The aim of these collective efforts is to bring access to at least 100 million people by 2015 and universal energy access by 2030.

As an energy expert, what are you looking for in a MyView entry?

I need to see how access to energy is linked to development, and how everything we take for granted -- good lighting, cooking, heating -- is related to our living standards, access to  education, job opportunities and good health. I want to be in awe of the ingenious tools and techniques that can be used to give the poor in different countries access to energy. I want to feel inspired that we will achieve our goal of energy for all.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Energy for All – A Goal Worth Fighting For

This week, the blog concentrates on the Energy for All project.

Energy for All is a network of people addressing specific geographic, technological, and thematic approaches to getting energy to people.

In Asia and the Pacific, more than 800 million people still have no access to electricity.

Almost two billion people burn wood, dung, and crop waste to cook and to heat their homes.

“Energy poverty” is one of the most pressing issues of this century. It’s a problem of technology, of infrastructure, of economics, of culture, and of politics.

Access to modern, cleaner energy is essential to improve infant and maternal health, education, and agriculture and ensure inclusive, sustainable development.

Energy for All has one goal: to provide energy access to 100 million people in Asia and the Pacific Region by 2015.

Access to electricity for households - using renewable energy technologies such as micro-hydro, solar, biomass, and small wind power, as well as access to clean cooking fuel, such as LPG or biogas from livestock manure, is just one of their initiatives.

Energy for All has a great website where you can get some ideas and inspiration for your MyView entry. You can also download free e-books and watch energy videos.

In future blogs, we will have more news about Energy for All.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Q&A with last year’s MyView winner, Muhammad “Wawan” Zulqamar

How did you come up with your MyView award winning idea?

The idea came to me when I was studying at Hasanuddin University. It was about 8 years ago and I was staying at my aunt's home. My aunt is so disciplined, tough and humble and she always tells me to live as simply as I can. And the (idea came) when she taught me how to take a bath with only one scoop of water. I was surprised when she tried to get me to so that… felt like it would be impossible.

But she told me that’s how she bathed when she was young and it was war time. She said you just need to practice and save everything in your life. So she taught me how to bathe with one scoop of water. It was a really really funny experience!

How long did your entry take to make - where was it shot? Are the people in the clip actors?

The film was shot in one day in Ciketing Village in Bekasi City (Indonesia). There are no actors – not even the main talent. They are truly just ordinary people. And the main talent got so cold, because we had so many takes of the bathing scene!

What have you been doing since you won MyView? And what's 2012 have in store?

I am preparing for my 4th short film. It’s about a relationship between two people. It’s a drama, satire, and romance. 

What is your favorite film that you have seen in the past year and why?

I have a lot of favorite films. Those that I mention here are just lying in my mind when I answer this question....... Cinema Nuevo Paradiso, Spice, Citizen Dog, Amelie, Big Fish, Fight Club, Forest Gump, Tropical Malady, The Constant Gardener, Departures, 3-Iron, The Village Album and many more...I like them because most of them have unique ideas and characters and different way of storytelling.

What advice would you give to people who want to enter MyView 2012?

Try to see everything in your life from a different point of view. Keep exploring!! Keep thinking !! Keep struggling!!

Where can people find you?

My twitter account - @wa2nkawai

Be inspired by Wa Wan --- enter MyView

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Future is Weirdly Renewable

There once was a time, using the sun and wind as energy was considered pretty wacky. Whenever a new way of working is called for – like say, creating a new energy source that is going to be kind to the planet, is renewable, clean, green and viable – all kinds of inventors, scientists, enthusiasts, and let’s face it, crackpots - emerge to try and find unusual ways to save the planet (while sometimes testing your imagination).

If the thought of onion fired energy is enough to make you cry, well you might be right. Onion juice has been turned into fuel. One farm in the US has been using onion juice to fuel refrigerators, lights, disposal units and factory energy – and saved almost $700,000! But it cost over $9 million to set up the anaerobic digester to turn onion waste into biogas and then into methane, and then electricity. (It doesn’t take a math genius though, to see that within a decade all that money will be recouped).

Why you would use perfectly edible chocolate as an energy source (other than a late afternoon pick-me-up) may confound many MyViewers.  But this potential energy source does not quite make you want to give up your candy bars. Cocoa bean shells – and imagine how many are of those – are now being used at power stations to see if a more Earth-friendly, coal-fuelled power can be generated. The theory is that with cocoa bean shells added to the mix, less coal will be needed.  If that sounds like an invitation to eat more chocolate, thus creating more cocoa bean shells for the power stations – hold on for just a minute. It’s in its early stages and nothing really revolutionary has happened yet.

Want some turkey guts with those onions and chocolates? (It’s quite a meal we are laying out here)? With pressure and heat, slaughterhouse waste is being turned into oil at a thermal conversion plant in Missouri, USA. Along with the blood and guts, tires, plastic and human sewage gets chucked into the mix, creating a not-so-delicious blend of oil.

Human and animal waste is being used in over 80 city buses in Oslo, Norway in the form of super-efficient and renewable energy.  Two sewage treatment plants collect methane that comes from the microbial process that breaks down sewage, and pump it into the city buses.

Urine powered batteries to be exact. Urine contains urea – a very promising blend of hydrogen and nitrogen. By processing it through a nickel-based electrode large amounts of cheap hydrogen can be created --- and that hydrogen can be used in batteries.

Of course in Asia – where necessity is the mother of invention – all sorts of make-do renewable energy projects have no doubt been created and been proven useful over the decades. If you have one that inspires you – maybe that can be your MyView entry? Go to our home page to see how to enter.

And coming up in future blogs, there’ll be more weird renewable energy stories.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Q&A : MyView Judge – Shane RJ Walter

You work across many areas - books, music videos, branding, TV, short films, animation, installations to name a few.... do you have a favorite?

I love the diversity of my job, the fact I do work across all these different areas gives me a different day each day - and I just continue to learn. It also gives me an unusual perspective on the creative industries and how one can transfer skills, ideas and talent across these platforms and areas.

My main motivating factors are creating things that did not exist before and doing things that make a difference. So …. producing a work that makes a difference is something that I enjoy working in the most – to give one example (and there are many), a project we collaborated with MTV international on: onedotzero Bloom, a new talent quest initiated in 2007 and first delivered in early 2008, which actively sought out and encouraged new talents to experiment with film making for the first time.

The first wave of the internationalised project focussed on aspects of identity pertinent to people and the cities they live in, which profoundly facilitated cultural understanding and creative exchange around the world. The initial response followed by the incredibly high standard of work finally submitted, was above the expectations of all producers involved.

The films are currently on tour across the UK and around the globe - in addition to broadcast in MTV networks internationally.

onedotzero has been going for 15 years. Where will digital art be in another 15 years?

I’m not sure about 15 years but here is a little insight into the near future….

There is a definite digital culture now and it feels as if we are living in very exciting times. There have been massive transformations in the last 15 years in so many industries - not just the arts - due to digital technology. This is all backdrop to an ever-evolving creative playground where art forms have collided, hybrid creators have risen and more importantly the appetite of the audience has skewed to a more progressive and diverse entertainment experience.

I think we are now at the beginnings of a new true revolution as people who have grown up with computers and digital tools are reshaping our “tomorrow world.” Cross-media thinking, web 2.0+ attitude, communities and collaborative production are all there now to offer new forms of art and commerce that mix and meld cinema with clubbing, theatre with photography, graphics with live music, opera with computer gaming, architecture with software development.

Any organization starting today or wanting to be around in the next ten years needs to embrace this environment and strive to push forward and not merely ride off the coat tails of innovators.

A lot of this thinking is hinged on the convergence and collaboration ethos that onedotzero has championed for over a decade and a half. The idea of open source and sharing is a recent development that is now being taken more seriously by larger brands and companies. This open and collaborative approach has spread much further as a means to approach design, development, and new production models as the world wakes up to the value of sharing and openness.

I also have seen the rise of a new kind of creative force – that of the Coder. Coders or programmers were always relegated to the back room geek dens and not considered to be ‘creative’ types. Now, code is in its purest form is a new raw material that artists and designers can shape and sculpt in a myriad ways to create interactive art, generative designs and stunning motion sequences.

People are creating and sharing their own tools such as the open source programming language. There’s also environment and dev kits like Arduino, OpenFrameworks and Processing, for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions.

Cinema was the artform of the 20th century and has huge widespread critical and popular appeal. Its recipe of storytelling in sound and image gave a heady mix of escapism in a darkened room that really did export us and transcend our immediate surroundings.

Now I believe the experience of the 21st century is one that will be much more fragmented but will contain a convergence of interaction and passiveness, gaming and cinema, immersive and crowd based experiences, architectural and virtual environments.

Your advice to making a great MyView entry?

In all work I look for a distinctive voice and a unique vision and original approach.

For MyView there is a real opportunity to be bold. It is more powerful to relay a simple bold idea that communicates well in this short format. For short length films try not to cram too may ideas or concepts in – this could end up being a bit messy. There are different elements of communication and style from cinematography to graphics, the use of sound and voice over etc – how these are combined and how they serve the idea/story is key. Make the film as long as you need to get the idea across – no longer, no shorter.

Where can people find you?

There are many ways to connect and I’d encourage it!

onedotzero websites:
videos,  interviews,  sign up for newsletter,  updates,  web shop,  books,  DVDs + all onedotzero activities

onedotzero industries, consultancy and production work, commercial project portfolio
our educational platform and model for future creative learning

onedotzero social networks:

Twitter    @onedotzero    #onedotzero

Shane Personal:

Twitter  @shanewalter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's the Millennium, It's Goals, It's Power

In 2000 the United Nations introduced eight Millennium Development Goals to encourage global development while improving social and economic conditions in the world's poorest countries.

The idea behind the MDGs, as they are routinely called, was to assist people still living in a grinding poverty. Sustained work and effort by institutions like the Asian Development Bank has seen the world's population living in extreme poverty halved since 1981. This is an extraordinary achievement, but also indicates that many millions of people are still somehow, out of reach of the efforts of governments and international institutions.

The MDGs focus on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by introducing universal educations, empowering women, eradicating devastating disease (like malaria and HIV/AIDS) and ensuring environmental sustainability.

That’s where energy comes into the picture. Providing energy access to billions of poor people can help people stay in school, work at sustainable rural and urban jobs, seek better health care, eat better, safer food. Schools, hospitals, factories, cities and villages can all function better with power.

With emphasis on providing “energy for all” has come real and growing interest in how individuals can benefit from energy, yet be aware of global warming.

Renewable power in work places and homes has become more available and more user-friendly. Many people think that using renewable energy requires an enormous time commitment as well as great personal inconvenience, and the sub-standard energy. It’s true that renewable energy is being developed to be more efficient and user-friendly, but the greater the knowledge people gain about renewable energy and how it impacts global warming, the more confident they are about it.

The four recognised primary sources of renewable power are:
  • Wind power
  • Solar power
  • Hydro-power
  • Geothermal energy
As you might imagine, the wind and the sun are extremely popular and have been used to create energy for centuries. Both wind and solar powered energy have now developed so that can be stored, for use long after the sun has set or the wind has died down. Magic!

In our My View About Energy section there are some great sites to start exploring. Once you look at those sites, you’ll find links to other sites and can browse for hours. Happy Earth-friendly surfing!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

MyView Past Winners

Last year’s winning MyView entry was from Indonesian entrant Muhammad “Wawan” Zulqamar with his video Save Water.

The entire judging panel found the film “almost flawless”. In little over a minute Wawan impressed with concept, direction, and sense of place. There is a strong sense of Asia in the film, as well as a serious yet humorous message. “Exquisite, well-acted, memorable and haunting,” said judge award-winning film maker, Christopher Beaver.

In our inaugural year (2009), Filipino entrant Alvin Tiamzon won for his witty How to Save the World.

Alvin came up the concept on his way to the office, corralled his work mates during lunch time and spent the hour filming. The result was an enormously popular and funny video that was not only a hit among the judges but a great success on YouTube. It was later re-worked by ADB and Alvin for a PSA for broadcast on network television.

Because of his winning MyView entry, Alvin has been offered work making videos for a carbon-management company. More about that and other news about Alvin and Wawan in upcoming blogs.