Sizing Up Innovations: A Small Solar Charger and a Floating Solar Island

Sizing Up Innovations: A Small Solar Charger and a Floating Solar Island

At Clean Energy Expo, a small Singapore start-up
company set the tech media world buzzing with the launch of its unique solar
charging mPowerPad.  the Government announced
Singapore will build its first floating solar system – the first of its kind in
the region – led by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and national water
agency PUB, at a cost S$11 million and be operational by 2013.

By Jessica Cheam in Straits Times (3 November

Singapore will build its first floating solar
system – the first of its kind in the region – in the calm waters of the
western Tengeh Reservoir.

The innovative project, led by the Economic
Development Board (EDB) and national water agency PUB, will cost $11 million
and be operational by 2013.

National Environment Agency (NEA) chief
executive Andrew Tan announced this yesterday, noting that the pilot project
will be studied for the potential of using reservoir water surfaces for these
systems to generate electricity.

This is to overcome Singapore’s land
constraints: Solar panels need large land mass to generate a large amount of
energy. In Singapore, they are usually built on rooftops.

Speaking at the third Solar Pioneer Awards
ceremony, where he was the guest of honour, Mr Tan said he was optimistic that
‘local solar adoption will continue to proliferate, driven by factors such as
increased local capabilities, innovation and government support’.

The 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic system –
which will be connected to the national grid – will generate enough energy from
the sun to power 450 four-room flats at any one time.

Mr Goh Chee Kiong, EDB’s director of clean
technology, told The Straits Times: ‘This is a major step for us… if this pilot
project works out, the potential is tremendous for rolling out similar projects
across the island.’

He added that remote reservoirs would be good
locations. Those that currently host recreational activities, such as
MacRitchie, will not be considered.

Singapore got its inspiration from existing
floating projects such as those in the United States’ Napa Valley, where land
owners built such systems to reduce water loss and overcome land constraints,
he added.

Singapore’s solar industry has grown into a
thriving industry in recent years; The HDB recently unveiled the first solar
leasing project, which allowed private firms to design, install and maintain
solar energy systems.

The floating project will be a public and
private partnership, where the government agencies will work with interested
private-sector companies to build the system.

Singapore can learn about the technical
challenges and cost-effectiveness of such systems through this test bed, which
will also look into other considerations such as aesthetics and impact on the
environment, said Mr Goh.

EDB and PUB will also study other potential
benefits, such as the cooling effect of the water body on the solar panels,
which will enable it to be more effective in generating electricity.

possible benefits are reduced water evaporation, and algal growth in the

Industry players said they were excited about
the project. Mr Christophe Inglin, managing director of solar firm Phoenix
Solar, who is keen to bid for it, said: ‘This is a very interesting experiment…
but there are some technical challenges to be ironed out. Water and electricity
do not mix very well together.’

NEA’s Mr Tan noted the Asian sunbelt region
is viewed as the ‘next exciting growth frontier for solar markets’. ‘Solar
energy also has the potential to help Singapore diversify its energy sources
and reduce its carbon footprint,’ he said.

Yesterday’s ceremony was held at the inaugural
PV Asia-Pacific Expo, part of the annual Singapore International Energy Week.

Five private-sector projects were given the
Solar Pioneer Award, which recognises solar installations in Singapore that are
at the forefront of system design, size and installation techniques.

The five are Keppel DHCS’ district cooling
systems plant at Changi Business Park, Hyflux’s innovation centre in Bendemeer,
GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals’ plant in Tuas, OUB Centre’s One Raffles Place
Tower 2 and UOL Group’s Upper Pickering hotel and office development.


By Jacqueline Seng on cNet Asia, Crave (1
November 2011):

If you’re off the (power) grid often–and you
don’t own a rugged solar phone–you might need the mPowerpad, a charger that
harnesses solar energy to charge up to two devices at a time.

Launched by Singapore-based startup Third
Wave Power, the mPowerpad is actually more than a solar charger. It also acts a
reading light, flashlight, insect repellent (by emitting an ultrasonic
frequency) and FM/AM/shortwave receiver.

During a demo at the Clean Energy Expo Asia
2011, Third Wave Power co-founder Lim Chuin Kiat showed off the device’s accelerometer-based
user interface which we found relatively intuitive and easy to use. For
instance, tilting the device in a certain direction triggers one function, or
turns it off. Lim says that avoiding the use of moving mechanical parts also
helps ensure the device is as robust as possible.

With its polycarbonate material, silicon
sleeve and rubber bumpers, the mPowerpad is claimed to be water-resistant and
shock-resistant for falls of up to 1m. It’s about the same size and weight as
an iPad, so it should fit well in a backpack.

The 4-watt solar panel is fully charged
within six hours and can juice up an iPhone fully with more than enough power
remaining to use other functions for up to six hours. The 2,500mAh charger is
made up of five standard AA-size nickel-metal hydride batteries which can be
easily removed and replaced, or used in other compatible devices when fully
charged. Lim estimates that the cell is able to last for 500 recharge cycles,
or up to 18 months if used daily.

The mPowerpad works with non-iOS devices,
too–it comes with seven common connector tips, so you can use it with most
other handsets. There’s also the option of using an AC input if there’s a power
socket readily available. People in remote areas without a ready supply of electricity,
such as hikers or those living in rural areas, may find this solar charger

Third Wave Power co-founder V.S. Hariharan
says that the company is in talks with retail partners and NGOs about
distributing the mPowerpad in Asia, India and Bangladesh, and that shipping
should begin in early January next year. The device will cost US$80.


Singapore, 31 October 2011 – Singapore-based
company Third Wave Power Pte Ltd today announced its new offering, mPowerpad,
the world‟s first multi-function, portable solar device that can power up
digital devices and is equipped with essential functions for users operating
away from the power grid like AM/FM/SW radio, reading light, flashlight and
ultrasonic insect repellent. mPowerpad launches this week at the Clean Energy
Expo Asia 2011 in Singapore, 1-3 November (Booth F05, Suntec City).

Compact, rugged and lightweight, mPowerpad
takes less than 6 hours to fully charge under direct sunlight. Through two USB
ports, mPowerpad is capable of charging many types of devices and gadgets such
as mobile phones, smartphones, tablets and cameras. With a 2500mAh battery
capacity, it can fully charge up an iPhone – as quickly and efficiently as from
an AC/DC outlet – while simultaneously providing reading light, radio and
insect repellant for 4-5 hours.

“mPowerpad is designed for people who often
travel to remote places and need a serious solution to keep their gadgets and
equipment up and running,” said VS Hariharan, Co-founder of Third Wave Power.
The company – backed by commercial incubator Small World Group and Singapore‟s
National Research Foundation – recently won the ‟Most Eco-friendly Start-up„
award at Techventure 2011, held in October in Singapore.

“Other solar chargers in the market do not
have more than one or two functions, or they lack durability and reliability.
mPowerpad, however, delivers an affordable, sustainable boost to productivity,
and benefits outdoor enthusiasts, professionals and households with no ready
access to electricity,” said Hariharan.

mPowerpad features a unique gesture-based
user interface that requires no button, knob or dial to operate the device.
With no moving mechanical parts that could break down from manual wear and
tear, and being water, dust- and drop-resistant, mPowerpad is built to
withstand harsh weather and terrain conditions.

Said Lim Chuin Kiat, Co-founder of Third Wave
Power, “mPowerpad has been designed for ultimate ease-of-use. With a built-in
accelerometer, functions are activated by simple motions of tilting or turning
the device. Anyone in the world – regardless of culture, literacy or education
– will find mPowerpad extremely easy to use.”

Field testing of pre-production units is
currently underway across various geographies. The first shipment of mPowerpad
is expected early January next year with a recommended retail price of US$80
per unit.

For more information on mPowerpad, visit
Third Wave Power at Clean Energy Expo Asia 2011, Suntec City Singapore, Booth
F05, 1-3 November or visit In addition, a public CEEA
session on “Making solar power portable and useful” by Third Wave Power is
scheduled on 2 November, 11.00–11.45 am at Tech Talk Room 1.

About Third World Power Pte Ltd

Third Wave Power aims to empower people
around the world by improving lives and increasing productivity. Incorporated
in 2011 and based in Singapore, the company develops affordable and innovative
renewable power solutions that serve portable energy needs in both urban and
rural areas. Third Wave Power products are designed based on customers‟ needs
and are made to perform and last in the environments they are used in. The
company is backed by commercial incubator Small World Group and Singapore‟s
National Research Foundation. Third Wave Power was honored at the recent
Techventure 2011 event, winning the “Most Eco-friendly Start-up” award. For
more information, visit

About the Founders

VS Hariharan, Co-Founder

Hariharan brings more than 20 years‟
experience from the information technology industry. In Hewlett-Packard Company
and Wipro Infotech, he was in general management roles as well as senior
positions in sales and marketing. Hari has extensive experience in product marketing
as well as building go-to-market engines for consumer and business products.
Throughout his career, he has also been involved in scaling many new and
emerging businesses.

Lim Chuin Kiat, Co-Founder

With more than 20 years‟ experience in the
information technology industry, Chuin Kiat oversaw research & development
department and was also in senior management roles in Hewlett-Packard Company,
Dell and Venture Corporation. He holds eight US patents for inventions relating
to printers, scanners and battery power management. Chuin Kiat has also been
involved in scaling many product businesses.

About the Investors

Small World Group Incubator

Small World Group Incubator (SWGI) regularly
provides seed funding, mentoring and help to start and grow small companies.
SWGI operates under the National Research Foundation‟s (NRF) Technology
Incubation Scheme in Singapore. SWGI focuses on three areas of technology
innovation – clean tech, optical systems and advanced materials. For more
information, visit

The National Research Foundation

The National Research Foundation seeks to
strengthen Singapore‟s R&D capabilities, encourage greater innovation and
nurture the growth of technology-based enterprises in Singapore. This will help
Singapore to remain competitive and create high value jobs and prosperity for
Singaporeans. For more information, visit


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