Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Super Capacitors (SC) and Electric Vehicles - Where things stand AT THE MOMENT

Super Capacitors (or Ultra Capacitors or Gold Cap) is a promising field and might replace lithium like batteries in the future. However, Current status of technology and material will have to improve further. Here are some quick comparisons.
1) Cost for 1kwh of Li-ion battery is now around $200 (predicted to come down further). In comparison, SC is in the range of $1000 - $2000
2) Energy density, charge which could be held in 1kg of the battery is about 20 times lower for SC when compared with Li-ion batteries, this is expected to improve but even the most optimistic analysts say it would take at least 5-6 years for SC to come to the level of Li-ion batteries. Commercial production and wide availability in the market, and adoption might take even more years.
3) Even if number 2 above is managed and developed, still SC needs more space. Roughly it will take about 30% more space than a conventional battery.
4) Main advantage of SC is it's ability to quickly charge. However, To charge quickly, SC alone is not enough. A grid connection which is capable of giving that high power is also required.
5) Super capacitors do not use expensive or rare materials. They also have long life and can operate for many cycles. However, not that suitable to keep a current for a long time as there is a loss over time. There has been some improvement on this lately.
6) Despite above problems, SC is already in use. For instance in Shanghai, public electric buses. They need charging in each stop but that charging is quick. Run by government funds. To get the costs down and fit these to cars enabling the range and making it commercially viable is a challenge to be overcome in the future.
7) Worlds best minds and big companies are working on these problems and we can monitor progress and breakthroughs as they happen, on the internet.
Considering all above aspects, current status of the technology and future trends, estimates and predictions, it is my humble opinion that SC will not produce a solution in time for our current EV battery problem in Sri Lanka. [I could be wrong and there also is the possibility (rare but not 0) of an unexpected technological breakthrough happening any time.]

Sometimes people who even lack basic O/L science knowledge (due to that very reason) come up with amazing claims of technological breakthroughs. Cars powered by water, (making hydrogen out of water inside the car and then using it to run it for instance. This is basically due to lack of knowledge in energy conservation theory), a tiny solar panel on roof providing power to a LEAF etc.
Why these claims gain such huge traction in our society? I think the reason is media personnel are not adequately educated in science. If that was the case, most these would not even get published in national newspapers in the first place. (See this hilarious reporting for an example: https://www.facebook.com/ashoka.ekanayaka.3/posts/10155204457526222)
When people are desperate, they tend to grab on to any solution, which provides the background on which some people thrive.
Some people just want short term publicity and quick cash. Very similar to our politicians in nature. How many politicians and leaders we have who have left a long term legacy and achievement behind them? Very few indeed. Most others just provide entertainment for media which would last for 2-3 days and that's how they keep their followers going and survive. When a long term vision is absent, short term gimmicks emerge to fill that vacuum.
This is not to belittle any true Sri Lankan inventors. We have so many of them and they are not adequately appreciated, used or encouraged. At the same time, we also have some crooks.
Let's be knowledgeable and open-minded!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Electric Vehicles in Sri Lanka - Critical Numbers needed for sustainability

Part 1 of this post presented some statistics from Green Frontiers automated fast charging records. 

This post is about some analysis and few key numbers which we need to achieve if EVs are to be sustainable in here. When we have a goal, backed up by statistics, numbers and analysis, we could think about practical ways of getting to it.

Those who missed the first post can find it in here. It would be helpful to read the numbers in that article first.

There is no promise these numbers (which we are about to calculate) would magically appear in our country. It is just that EVs will at least survive if these numbers are met. All these numbers are inter dependent, we will not get one number if we fail in others.

EVs in here had different and changing challenges from start in 2015 to now. 

Initially it was lack of fast chargers, membership fees and the range anxiety. Then in mid 2016 it changed to minor issues of lack of faster charging speeds, apps and automation, facilities at charging stations etc. As a community, all of us managed to overcome and improve on each of those. By 2017, it was clear that the main obstacle for the progress of EVs is the government import tax, as no new vehicles were arriving in numbers. 

That last problem is still very much there, however it has now overtaken by an even bigger and immediate issue of battery degradation and replacements. As things stands now, even if the government reduces the EV tax tomorrow (which will not happen), it is doubtful how many would buy one given the battery replacement problem hasn't been answered yet.

So let us start our number game with battery prices. What could be the realistic and best battery price we can hope to get? for a brand new and 30kw battery.

1) Brand new 30KW battery price 
I think that fair number we should aim is around Rs 1m (or $5000). However we have work to do to achieve that, more on that later. First, let us find how this number came about.

According to current market research and predictions Li-ion battery pack prices (standard market prices, without going after particular expensive brand names) are coming down towards $150 per kwh this year. Expected to be below $100 before 2025. Assuming Rupee will be below 200 per $ when the prices hit $150, that gives us Rs 30000 per kwh and that's below Rs 900 000 per 30kw, add shipping and taxes and prices can remain around 1m. 

This is justifiable in yet another angle as well. It is usually being said that the 1/3 of the electric car's cost and weight is it's battery. Most of us have bought our cars around 3m. What this also mean is that a price higher than this will not make sense to many users in here and will not help towards popularizing EVs.

Note however, this is the price for Brand New, and 30KW. This price will then set suitable market price upper limits for used batteries. 

Currently, there are not many avenues for us to get our hands on a brand new battery. This is partly due to us relying on the original manufacturer and a particular brand. Above mentioned global market prices are not that valid if we limit ourselves to a specific brand name. So the scope and focus should be towards open standards and specification/technology/battery chemistry driven solutions than towards brand names which would just add to the cost and put additional restrictions on us. (having to go through the sole agent for instance)

What are those specification driven approaches, why 30KW and not 24KW etc are interesting subjects to discuss and require longer explanations, I will perhaps do that on a separate post and not in here to keep the length of this post to a sane level.

2) Number of battery assembling workshops/personal and importing/installing places
As we have shown at other places, we will have to face the challenge of replacing around 4000 LEAF batteries in around 4 years starting from this year. That is around 3 batteries every day! Battery replacing with a used one could be done quickly but it does not likely that there will be enough damaged new cars in Japan to provide us with a steady source of used (but good and new) branded batteries. There are legal limits also. While we should encourage that solution, we also need to prepare for the eventual worse case scenario. Most of us are simply not going to find a good used battery. 

To replace 4000 batteries, we will have to assemble most of that number in here. Assembling modules is a time taking activity. Once again, I will not go into too much details in here but hoping to cover that in a dedicated post for batteries. For now, lets just say that we may need around 20 small workshops island wide to meet that demand.

Since this is the most critical issue gripping us all at the moment, most of other numbers in this post will actually depend on how successful we will be at making this particular number. Luckily, there is a way to achieve this! A sure fire way which will then help us achieve all other numbers as well and make the EVs stay and thrive in here for good. It is not going to be an easy one but a worthwhile one.... 

Anyway, that is a topic for a different lengthy post.....  Now, first things first. Let's get the rest of numbers.

3) Fast charging rate (How many Rs per kWh)
Any government will (after elections) have to increase the cost of electricity.  I think the highest rate for domestic would be Rs 50 per unit, currently it is at 45. Mostly that would then be the cost for someone to charge their car at home. In last post we saw, EVs are going outstations less and less and the average mileage they run per day is either already very low or going down. This is no way for promoting EVs or getting the benefits of EVs. This also is very bad for fast charging infrastructure. 

In order to encourage vehicles to drive more, get rid of range anxiety and also to get them to visit fast chargers often, we will eventually have to make the Charging cost at the same rate as domestic electricity cost. Rs 50/= This does not mean it will actually happen in the short term, infact, Current rates (Rs 60-100 at the moment depending on location and network) might even go up in the short term. However, 50 is the best number for users and more users mean more business for charging stations.

This is why the numbers in this list is important. All these numbers are dependent on each other. While charging rate can not come down on its own, it can come down if the other numbers align right. That would be a win-win situation for all. 

4) What is the minimum number of EVs we need in here to feel safe. (critical mass)

Current number of EVs in the country is not big enough for new investors to come in or to initiate new solutions/services/experiments. However, still we are making ourselves heard, got few vital services going and putting up a fight to survive. Most these issues going to turn for better if the vehicle numbers are bit higher than they are now. 10 000 is that critical mass I think. Of course it's good if there are even more of them but 10K will start to make things happen. Fast charging for instance can get profitable if the vehicle numbers are twice as they are now.

That nice and round five digit number will also see few more organizations investing in the EV industry and eco system.

5) Electricity cost for Fast Charging

To Make Rs50 charge rate possible, just having 10K vehicles is not enough, electricity costs need to be sensible. Currently there is a legal basis to provide fast charging stations with i1 industrial tariff which is normally about Rs 13 per kWh. However, our of about 20 running stations we have only 2 have got this tariff so far. That's the gap between policy and practice in the country! This need to be improved at the decision making level. 

High electricity cost is a killer for EVs and that much is well known. 

EV users also have a responsibility in here, We need to contribute in generating as much electricity as we can (home solar systems) and we need to charge at off peak times.

6) How many fast charging stations we need in the island.

Earlier we said the initial number of vehicles we would like to have is 10 000, so this question get reworded as how many fast chargers do we need to serve 10 000 cars. According to stats from last post, only a fraction of vehicles are using fast chargers and only a fraction of that using charging stations regularly. Currently we have around 40 working stations island wide as a country. Some of those are struggling to survive. While we may like to have as many stations as possible, having too many stations is not optimal. It could make all to incur losses and then the familiar issues of lack of repairs, upgrades, closures etc 

It's my estimate that for 10 000 total vehicles, 60 fast chargers is enough. When the vehicle count rises, then we will have a case for more.

7) What should be the ideal investment of a 30KW fast charger

In order to meet Rs50 charging rate, having 10000 vehicles and having Industrial tariff, are again not enough. Biggest issue of fast charging is the cost of the charger and Return Of Investment (ROI). 

When we started we brought down 30KW fast charger cost to around 1.3m (from 2m and above). Even this cost is too much since ROI then typically is around two years in main cities but can be considerably more than that in outstations. While we encourage different business models for outstation charge centers (such as using the charger as a support service to a existing other business), charger investment cost need to come down if we are to push for Rs 50 rate and more and more EV journeys and miles. 

When the technology improves prices always come down. Computers, electric vehicles, batteries for example. Similarly fast charger cost also has to come down. When it eventually comes down to Rs 1m mark, we will see many willing investors and even existing investors will go for upgrades, replacements.

In case of a imported fast charger, one has to deal with shipping and taxes as well so the price cost may have to be below $5000. For locally made chargers it will have to come to the mark of Rs 1m. This would mean more sales, more upgrades, more charging and will fit in well with the bigger picture. 

8) What's ideal vehicle price

About 3000 Nissan Leaf cars have come to the country in a space of 6 months in the later part of 2015. Vehicle price was around 2.5m to 3m in those days. Some users Even paid close to 3.5m happily when the car had a favorable public opinion. 

So, if we assume the other numbers in the list are there, then people would be happy to pay around Rs 4m today (adjusting for inflation since 2016) for a high end electric car like the LEAF. It has to be a 3 year old previous model, reconditioned car of course to fit into that budget. Prices close to Rs 5m mean that they are simply out of reach for most of middle class in here and hence will fail to make a noticeable impact on larger society and country. So the taxes will have to come down for 3 year old cars.

This could mean a mid range EV would do well for 3m and a low end one for around 2m. This is also a good space for a creative local manufacturer to fit in!  It is difficult to say anything more than that with any level of assurance because vehicle prices depend on so many things, personal preferences, support, reputation of the dealer etc... 

So, there we have it, 8 magic numbers! 

$5000 brand new battery, 20 battery replacement/assembling places, Rs 50 per unit fast charging, 10 000 vehicles, Rs 13 electricity cost for fast charging stations, 60 fast charging stations and Rs 1m priced 30KW charger. (Rs 4m LEAF would be nice too!)

Little more than just a wish list... We will need these or similar numbers for EVs to thrive in here and to pass that point of no return for adaption. Currently we are far away from these numbers so we have all these present problems and are facing immediate survival challenges.

I owe you more explanations for first two items regarding batteries, how to achieve those, plans and more details. 

We can do this if we are prepared to act! 

Let's meet again in the next post to discuss just that.

Similar posts on EVs - 

Business Model differences between a fuel station and a charging station
Outlook the future of electric vehicles in Sri Lanka

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Some statistics, numbers and predictions on electric vehicles in Sri Lanka

We thought of sharing some of interesting fast charging statistics and numbers we have in the Green Frontiers network during last two years. We hope these will be useful for those who are in the EV field involving in services of fast charging, manufacture, software/hardware development and investments etc as well as those who are interested in involving in those activities in future.

Any questions and further information, request in the comment section of this blog. (It would be easier for us to answer and provide further information in one place, thanks!)

Statistics are mainly limited to automated stations since the automation began in them. No personal info is used or shared with anyone, only the general statistics, so there can be no privacy violation issues.

Based on these numbers, we will also try to do some predictions on some future aspects of electric vehicles in the country.

First of all, let's start with something simple and obvious. What do you think the day of the week where the most charging happens ? Turns out (as you may suspect) it is Saturday. Friday is a close second and the Sunday is a very close 3rd. Thursday seems to be the day least amount of fast charging happens. No surprises there.

What is the most charging month and the least? again, not surprisingly December, April and August. School holidays obviously has a part to play in that. Months immediately preceding these months seems to be the months with lowest amount of charging.

Now to a surprise finding. On earlier occasions we have said that out of 5000 or so electric vehicles in Sri Lanka only 2000 or less are coming to fast charging stations. What is the distribution of these users are like... How many of them are regularly visiting charging stations, say more than once a week ? how many of them are visiting less than once a month etc. Here, we have considered station by station. How many days after a visitor would be visiting again the same station.

Turns out around 90% of users visit the same charging station less than once a month! While there are regular users, most of users are rare and irregular visitors. Combined with the earlier section, this may mean that most of EVs are used rarely for long distance travel and those mostly happen in school holiday months. Looks like unless going on a trip or some special occasion (an event happens once in few months), most vehicles only do short distance travels. 

This could mean that our number of 5000 vehicles in the country is actually not that meaningful. Most of those 5000 cars are not used anywhere close to their potential. Total mileage wise, EV usage could be far smaller than we would think. We are studying these numbers in detail to understand more. Unfortunately this analysis can be done only for stations which are operated only by automation, with no amount of manual (operator assisting) charging. So the sample data sizes are small to feel entirely confident about this number.

Another metric is the average number of units charged in a session. In 2016, on average a charging session was like 8 units. This has now gone down below 6. This again indicates that vehicles run more and more short distances and also may reflect the fact that they now have degraded batteries. Not so good signs one would think...

This got us thinking. In an ideal situation... in terms of sustaining the industry, encouraging highest possible number of cars to take long distance travel and charging, affordable battery solutions etc. What would be the critical numbers and parameters needed for EV industry in Sri Lanka to be sustainable and stable ?

Numbers such as these: Charging rate for 1kwh (currently it is Rs 60 - 100, depending on the location and network), How many charging stations in minimum we should have in the country, How many EVs we should have in the minimum (critical mass) to get things going and stable. What should be the cost of a 30KW fast charger where we would see investors would start to feel more willing, What should be the electricity cost for charging, and finally the most interesting one: How many battery replacing/assembling services/personal we would need in the country to sustain that number of vehicles. What should be the cost of a brand new (or near brand new quality) battery?

What numbers for above will make EV industry in here self sustainable, surviving and comfortable...

Let us know your thoughts... based on our analysis, we have some ideas and figures. Will share in the next post.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Business model differences between a Fuel station and a Charging Station - Lessons from the business of EV charging (2) -

Now we consider our mission of setting up fast chargers in Sri Lanka has been achieved, we thought of sharing with others the experiences and lessons we learned on our way. Part of 1 of this series can be found in here.

On the surface, Fuel stations and charging stations seem nearly identical in function. Let's forget the environmental aspect a bit, they provide a similar service. Vehicles come to the station, one charges an electric car, the other fills it with fuel, very similar. Business models also need to be identical right? Wrong! These two businesses are worlds apart and require totally different everything. Let's discuss.

 1) Fuel stations (unless situated on a main road connecting two big cities) largely depend on customers who live/work around it in a certain short (few kilometers) radius. Let's just think about our regular filling station. Most of us either live near it or work near it.

In contrast, an EV charging station always serves users who live far away from it. People who live nearby will conveniently charge from their homes at night, Those who lose their charge level near a station are the usual customers, who typically come from further away.

Some of our partners when querying about starting a new charging station, typically say things like "There are about 20 EVs in my town.." Actually, that's the exact wrong figure to focus on. Those 20 cars are the most unlikely ones to visit us for charging, focus should be on other vehicles which pass us.

This little difference requires both businesses to follow totally different marketing strategies from each other. Fuel station need not do much since it will naturally attract people who live/work near it. However, for a charging station, whose customers live far away from it, needs other mechanisms to let those customers know about it's presence.

2) Fuel station is kind of a lone ranger unless you live in a big deserted country. Each station is more or less independent from each other. This is because once the tank is full a vehicle could go 500km or more.

Charging stations, on the other hand, need each other to work together. A car needs the help of several stations to complete a journey. Each station should promote others and help users overcome their range anxiety. In a local example, Kurunagala station may need to convince it's customers of the feasibility of traveling to Colombo by mentioning about the Nittambuwa station in between and vise versa. Charging stations need to think like a team and a network for better results. Kurunagala would get more customers if there is a station in Anuradhapura. Ginigathhena would get more business once there is station also in N'Eliya etc.

3) Fuel station need a huge investment to start and so the barrier of entry is so big that only big corporates can do it. Then again, one would need a government permit or a license to operate.

A charging station, on the other hand, requires a very little investment to start and only need a 3 phase line to operate. This means virtually anybody can start a charging station in quick time and it will be almost impossible for the government to curb or regulate them. It also means that it is very hard for anybody or a big company to develop a monopoly in the charging business like they can do it in fuel station world.

Just think, Sri Lanka only has 2 main parties who do fuel, after all these years. Ceypetco and IOC. In charging, however, even after 3 short years, we already have 4 main networks, two local manufacturers and some independent stations as well.

4) Customers come and leave quickly in a fuel station.

In a Charging center, they will stay at least half an hour and sometimes an hour or more. This means lot of opportunities if the station have other services to offer to it's charging customers. It also means a charging station better have some basic facilities and acceptable environment for it's waiting customers.

In the past, we though fuel stations are ideal for charging station since there will be operators 24/7, all year around. However, with the arrival of total automation, this is no longer a big advantage. Restaurants, Hotels, Service Stations, Shopping malls etc seem to be better stations now. A Fuel station, after all, is not the nicest of places to spend 30-40 minutes with kids and family.

When we put our first two stations and contemplating on bringing on 5 new fast chargers, we contemplated on this question long and hard. We were anyway not after creating a business empire out of charging, we were just impatient to cover the island and see the impact we are making. This realization of impossibility for anyone to make a monopoly in this business made our choice easy. So we came up with our current business model which is bit similar to a franchise.

We did not have the capital to invest in many chargers around the country. Also, it was quickly shown that when the premises owner have more at stake (more to gain and more to lose), that motivates them to do the business well and ensure the survival of the charging station. So we came up with a model where premises owners will be the main investors. It will not allow us to create a business empire but will make sure we reach the goal of covering the whole country with fast chargers. 

We started by reducing the initial charger investments. 30KW charger which was beyond RS 2m, we made availalbe for about 1.35. 20KW charger which was about 1.2M, we made available for under 1m. Then we would invest and finance a further 10% of that investment. Suddenly things started to move!

Green Frontiers mainly focus on software, automation, apps, promotions, payments, maintenance and the network in general. We sometimes do direct investments on fast chargers as well based on strategic decisions, but mainly we limit ourselves to 10% investment only and let the premises owner invest the rest. It also freed us for investing on chargers on areas where others would not invest, to fill the gaps in the network. This is a win-win situation on many levels.

Even though we invest 10%, we have decided from early on to pass full ownership of the charger to the main investor. This will make the investment decision easy, for he can sell anytime or walk out anytime without facing legal complications. We thought making it easy for people to leave will, in the long run,  make it easy for them to take the joining decision. We only took 10% of charging revenue and the rest goes to the investor, this will leave the network with a steady income so we thought to continue providing services. By our quick success and survival past 3 years, I think this model has proved a success.

This is just to say that analyzing problems (even when they look like not directly relevant to what you are doing) sometimes help, even when the problem seems somewhat abstract than practical. Those help you focus on the right areas and figure out your place in the service you intend to provide.

If time permits, we will discuss few more such topics as well as some useful statistics....

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Lessons from EV fast charging in Sri Lanka and other stories. Part 1

Now that we consider our mission in Sri Lanka on EV charging is successfully concluded (we may still put a new charger or two but mostly will maintain the existing infrastructure and focus on some new area), thought of sharing some of things we learned about doing business in Sri Lanka especially in the field of environmentally sustainable solutions.

First, two little stories about "patriotism"

I met an old friend of mine who has a university science education as well as some business experience of his own as well. When discussing other things the topic turned towards the home solar energy solutions we do on a limited scale. The Solar Drive project. He asked why we don't try to manufacture solar panels in Sri Lanka. To him, it didn't look like a patriotic enough activity to import panels from another country and install solar systems in here. He actually was willing to postpone thinking about solar energy until the day Sri Lanka start to produce panels of it's own. Perhaps you also have a friend like this.

What should we call this attitude.. naive patriotism, extreme patriotism or is it just a lack of objectivity? While I do appreciate and share his passion to see things made in Sri Lanka, I'm simply amazed at the big picture being missed there. We are already wasting trillions of Rupeess worth of solar energy every year which fall upon our lands! If we could harness that, it could do following things :

1) Save billions of Rupees which would otherwise go to middle east.
2) Prevent environment pollution
3) Contributing to the battle against global warming and climate change
4) health benefits
5) Ability to run our vehicles also from solar power (via use of EVs)
6) Become a nation with near total energy self-sufficiency. (considering the amount of hydroelectricity and wind power resources we have)
7) A strong and stable local economy
8) Many business opportunities and new jobs for our youth in the solar market.

Considering all that and considering the fact that we are now losing all those benefits and wasting billions daily... Isn't it much better to import solar panels from whatever country which do it well and reach our primary goals?

There is the side of manufacturing as well. Solar panels are something which needs to manufacture in very high quantities to be profitable. Sri Lanka is not such a huge market for very large scale production. We also do not currently have the expertise in this kind of high tech products. China has such a stranglehold in the global market for solar panel production that even many US factories had to shut down due to not being able to compete with China on price. It would be naive indeed, to wait until the day we produce our own panels.

This reasoning applies to few other products as well. Electric Vehicles,  computer microprocessors, etc products which help us save money or generate revenue. It does not apply to luxury items, things we can produce in here, things we are already producing or many other products which we can easily do without.

BTW, our take on the future of Electric Vehicles in Sri Lanka can be found on here, if you are interested.

Another side story related to 'patriotism'..

This is a bit long and not all that pleasant as the first one, but gives a strong and useful lesson for someone who is new to business in Sri Lanka.

When we started EV fast charging, two other parties joined us and we together imported few fast chargers. We even got an easy payment option where we could pay some amount of the investment monthly within 6 months. Chinese factory has trusted us and issued chargers. Actually, all three of us got the easy payment scheme due to one party (let's call them A) and we (let's call B) managed to get a very good price quote from them. Both A and B have already bought chargers from this company before. Party C was totally new at this stage, they were just placed to benefit from this collaboration.

Unfortunately, once receiving the chargers, this party C, would not pay up as promised. He has suddenly become a patriot and would say things like "saving Sri Lankan Rupees from going to China", safeguarding people from buying 'low quality' Chinese chargers etc. after more than a year of delay, the Chinese company got frustrated and stopped support services for all 3 of us. Whole EV network in the country was facing a shutdown. Two remaining parties in our collaboration (A and B) then went to China alone and settled payments and got the support and trust back. For us, they even awarded the sole agentship for Sri Lanka. The party which would not pay up was finally forced to pay after a few more months of delay. They also asked for agentships and training etc but the Chinese company who by now knew what's happening didn't give them any. From this day onwards they have stopped any more easy payment schemes for whole Sri Lanka for all their businesses. Ironically, this was the end result for the country which came out of 'patriotism'.

Now, if we bought something from someone and came to an agreement, we have to pay up as promised. It is laughable to think about the country losing foreign exchange only at the time of paying up for the things we already bought.

It did not stop there. When we developed charger automation kits, the same individual asked us to install these on his chargers too. We did and he again did not pay up, to this date, did not even return us our equipment back. Now that he does not have an automated system, he has adopted another tone. His new tone then was that: EV charging automation and self-service systems are bad, manual operators are the best thing, charging networks are bad and not necessary, people should not buy access cards etc..  in short, grapes are sour. Indeed!

These experiences got us thinking... there is a thing called getting fooled by own propaganda. After a  while, liars start to think that they are actually telling the truth!

Patriotism is something one should show by their own actions, no need to advertise it in words. Those who talk about patriotism but do not have anything to show for it in their past actions... well, it's better for others to be a bit careful from such people. Patriotism also is not an excuse to cover up a lack of objectivity or common sense.

Working towards achieving even a little thing is far better than just wishing we have everything but doing nothing towards achieving anything.

Not to say that we do not have real patriots among us, we do. We wouldn't have managed to defeat terrorism and save the country if we didn't have any, for instance. Just that real patriots don't have to shout out loud and advertise it, because they have their own past actions and achievements to show for it.

Until we meet from part two... What's your take on this?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Outlook - The future of electric vehicles in Sri Lanka.

Now that the Green Frontiers mission we started in December 2015 has reached it's objectives, the fast charging network of the country is reasonably spread out covering most of main routes and main outstation locations... and we have maintained and kept all this alive for more than 3 years. Moreover, this was done while keeping to low rates of Rs 50-60 rate and without enforcing membership fees.

It's now time to evaluate what's the impact has been and what lies for the future of EVs in the country.

EV s on their hey day - @ Green Frontiers, Battaramulla -

For the moment, it looks like charging and range anxiety is not as big issues as they were. There are few new players who has entered into fast charging, CEB is also there. Several people are experimenting with battery solutions, Service providers and spare parts vendors are emerging etc.. Petrol vehicle taxes have gone up. One may think EVs might make a comeback. However, the looks can be deceiving...

With the help of many partners and brave individuals and support from the community, we may have managed to prevent EVs from totally collapsing for 3 years, without any government help, but that's all there is to it. There is a limitation on what few individuals or an organization can do, in the absence of a national policy and active government help. Everywhere in the world where EVs has succeeded, that has happened only with active government help. EVs has not thrived in anywhere yet, without some form of state help.

In Sri Lanka, EVs have started to come in numbers in 2015 when the import tax was just 5%. By around end of that year, the number of pure electrics and plugin electrics were around 4500. Then in November 2015 budget, the government has introduced the draconian new EV tax which suddenly penalize an EV import to as much as 50% of CIF value. Subsequent budgets and ministers boasted they have helped EVs but they were only number games. Final actual tax was always around 40-50% and to this date, the total number of EVs in the country stand only around 5000. The progress was virtually stopped in November 2015 and remains the same.

When new arrivals of cars are scarce, any new investor, service provider or business will think twice before entering into EV sector. Market growth, which is a key indicator of any business analysis is simply not there. With this background, it is unavoidable that even the existing EV related businesses to be winding down. Fast chargers do not have enough cars on roads to sustain their business, once the existing chargers which are outside of warranty periods (that is most of the chargers in here) need to import parts to replace broken ones, most investors are bound to ask the question whether it's worth it. Same goes for other areas of support. New battery replacement related experiments and investments might also slow down. All this would affect the second-hand car market of EVs -which is already struggling- in a very adverse manner.

All above issues will be non existant and EVs would thrive if only the EV tax is reduced at least partially. Therefore, the future and sustainability of EVs in here is going to be critically and directly depend on this years budget which is due in few days/weeks. Without a noticeable reduction of the EV tax, this environmentally vital sector will face a certain slow and painful demise in this year itself.

One may think, there are other helps the government can do. We do not believe so. Most things some expect the government to do are actually not beneficial and even damaging. For instance, CEB has started put up fast chargers, one may think this is a good move, but this is Sri Lanka and here's how the situation will play out in the end. We are a notorious country for government waste, mismanagement and corruption. Sri Lankan Air lines, Mihin Lanka, Railway, CTB, Ceypetco, CEB are just few examples. One minister has said once that the total problem of Sri Lankan economy can be equated to the loss at CEB. Ceypetco, Sri Lankan airlines and other organizations listed also are very much capable of profit making but instead, they remain as burdens on tax payer and huge black holes which gobbles up our resources. Why ? the reason is that governments can not do business.

Let's take fast charging. Very expensive brand of fast chargers arrived years after the tender proceedings, installed many months after arrival, some says that even the warranty periods are now expired. Some stations are still not even operational. Even if they become operational, how long they would remain so, who would take care of maintenance and proper operations? will a government institute which has other high priority tasks put on them will be passionate and dedicated to operating charging stations fluently for a long time? experience on our government service tells us otherwise. This is no body's fault. A government is inherently not suited do businesses.

One day, there is a good chance that these expensive stations will be tendered and sold out cheaply due to small maintenance issues accumulated over many months and that would be a tremendous waste of public money. If the government or the CEB really wanted to encourage and promote EVs in here, they could have simply, granted a favorable electricity tariff to charging stations. proper supply lines which don't cause voltage fluctuations and equipment damage. While one department of the government is putting a tax and preventing EVs from coming here, another department of the same government is importing and putting up fast chargers for those very EVs the first department is discouraging!

So it's our understanding and experience that the only and most effective way for the government to encourage and promote EVs in here is by reducing the import tax. Nothing else is needed and anything else will not be as effective. When more vehicles start to come, other services will naturally appear and develop. There is no need for the government to take the burden of importing batteries, putting up fast chargers, service stations etc. Those would just be avenues for public money wastage only. Government's main job is to provide legislation, policy and overseeing of proper implementation of those policies.

We have done our best for the past 3 years to keep things together... the ball is now with the government, which is still not too late to save the electric vehicle.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

විශ්මිත විද්‍යාව (2) - කාලය යනු කුමක්ද?

ආලෝකය සාධාරණය. ලොකු කුඩා, උස් පහත්, වේගයෙන් ගමන් කරන සහ හෙමින් ගමන් කරන, එය වෙතට සහ ඉන් ඉවතට ගමන් කරන, මේ හැමටම එකම වේගයෙන් නිරීක්ෂණය වෙයි.

මෙම දැනුම, මිනිස් සිතට සහජයෙන් ගෝචර නොවන එහෙත් වඩාත් වැදගත් සැඟවුනු රහසක් හෙලි කර දීමට උදවු වෙයි!

පසුගිය ලිපියෙන් ආලෝකයේ වේගය, එහි උත්පාදකයේ වේගයෙන් සහ නිරීක්ෂකයාගේ වේගයෙන් බාහිරව පවත්නා නොවෙනස්වන විශ්වීය නියතයක් බව දුටුවෙමු.

ආලෝකය මෙසේ හැසිරෙන්නේ අපට ඒ බව විශ්වාස කිරීමට පවා නොහැකි විටදීය. නමුත් අපි හැමදාම විශ්වාස කරන, නොවෙනස්ව හැමටම එක සමාන ලෙස සලකන බවට කවි පවා ලියැවෙන "කාලය" සැබැවින්ම අපි සිතන තරම් සාධාරන නැත. අපට සිතාගැනීමට පවා අපහසු වුවද, කාලය එකෙනෙකාට වෙනස් ලෙස සලකන බවත් වෙනස් අවස්තාවලදී වෙනස් වේග වලින් ගමන් කරන බවත්, ඔප්පු කර පෙන්විය හැකිය.

ඉහත රූපයේ වම් පස (a) සිටිනුයේ වේගයෙන් යන රොකට්ටුවක සිටින වාසනාවන්ත තැනැත්තෙකි. ඔහුට ඉහලින් සහ පහලින් ඇති කන්නාඩි දෙකක් හරහා හුවමාරු වන අලෝක කිරණයක් ඇත (ලේසර් කදම්බයක් ලෙස සිතමු ). යටින් ඇති බල්බයෙන් පිටවන එය ඉහත ඇති දර්පනයෙන් පරාවර්තනය වී නැවත පහලට පැමිනෙයි. රොකට්ටුව තුල සිටිනා මිනිසාට මෙය ඉතා පැහදිලි ලෙස දිස්වෙයි. හරිම සරලය.

දැන් දකුනු පස (b) බලන්න. මෙහි පෙනෙන්නේ පොලොව මත සිටිනා (අප වැනි ) අවාසනාවන්ත අයෙකුට ඉහත කී සරල සිද්ධිය පෙනෙන සැටිය. එම සිද්ධියමය. නමුත් ආලෝක කිරනය බිම සිට උඩට ගොස් ආපසු එනවාට අමතරව, ඉදිරියටද ගමන් කර ඇත. ඒ ඇයි? රොකට්ටුව ගමන් කර ඇති නිසාය. ඇතුලේ සිටින අයට නොපෙනුනත් එලියෙ සිටින අයට මෙම සමස්ත චලිතය පෙනෙයි. රොකට්ටුව අපට සාපේක්ෂව  චලනය වෙන බැවිනි.

පොලොවට සාපේක්ෂව මෙම ආලෝක කිරණය වැඩි දුරක් ගමන් කර ඇත. රොකට්ටුවට සාපේක්ෂව නම් ගමන් කර ඇත්තේ අඩු දුරකි (ඉහලට සහ පහලට පමනි). නමුත් මෙම දෙදෙනාටම නිරීක්ෂණය වන ආලෝකයේ වේගය එකමය. (පසු ගිය ලිපියට අනුව, අලෝකයේ වේගය සෑම නිරීක්ෂකයාටම එක සමනය ) වේගය යනු දුර බෙදීම් කාලය වේ. a සහ b දකින ආලෝකයේ වේගයන් සම විය යුතුමය. නමුත් දුර පැහැදිලි ලෙසම වෙනස්ය. b ගේ දුර වැඩිය. එසේ නම්, b ගත කර ඇති කාලයත් වැඩි විය යුතුය. එකම සිදුවීම එකම වර සිදුවන මුත්, b ට වඩා හෙමින් a ට කාලය ගතවෙයි. (වාසනාවන්ත යැයි කීවේ එනිසාය) වේගයෙන් ගමන් කරන විට කාලය හෙමින් ගමන් කරයි.

රොකට්ටුව තුල සහ පිටත ඔරලෝසු දෙකක් තිබිනි නම් සහ ඒ දෙකම එකවර ක්‍රියාත්මක කර එකවර නතර කරන ලද නම්, අතුලත ඔරලොසුව අඩුවෙන් ගමන් කර ඇති බව පෙනෙනු ඇත. මෙය සැබැවින්ම සිදු කර ඇති පරීක්ෂණයකි. ඉතා නිවැරදි පරමානුක ඔරලෝසු අජටාකාශ යානා මත තබා පොලොවට ආපසු සසඳා තිබේ. රොකට්ටුව ඇතුලත කාලය ගමන් කර ඇත්තෙ හෙමිනි.

පෘතුවිය තත්පරයට කි.මි. 30 ක වේගයෙන් යන රොකට්ටුවකි. සූර්ය ග්‍රහ මන්ඩලය තත්පරයට කි.මි. 230 ක වේගයෙන් යන රොකට්ටුවකි. විශ්වයේ අපි සියල්ලෝම නොයෙක් වේග වලින් ගමන් කරමින් සිටින්න්නෝ වෙමු. සාපේක්ෂව වැඩි වේගයෙන් ගමන් කරන්නා අසලදී කාලය හිමින් ගමන් කරයි.

ඉහත රූපයේ සිදුවීම නිරපේක්ශ කාලය නම් සංකල්පයෙන් බැහැර වීම මගින් පැහැදිලි කිරීමට මුලින්ම නිර්භය වූයේ අයින්ස්ටයින්ස්ය. අනෙක් හැමෝම කල ලෙසට, කාලය නිරපේක්ශව තබා (අපගේ ඉන්ද්‍රිය ගෝචර මනසට අනුකූල වන ලෙස ) අලෝකයේ වේගය සාපේක්ෂ ලෙස ගෙන මෙය විසඳීමට නොහැකි වූයේ එය පරීක්ෂණාත්මක දත්ත හා නොගැලපුන බැවිනි. එකල පරමානුක ඔරලෝසු සහ රොකට්ටු නොතිබුනත් මීට ඉහත ලිපියේ පරිදි මිචෙල්සන්-මොර්ලි පරීක්ෂණය මගින් අලෝකයේ වේගය නියත බව පෙන්නන ලදී.

දත්ත සහ තර්කනය සමඟ නොගැලපෙන විටදී ඉන්ද්‍රිය ගෝචර මනසේ සීමාවන්ගෙන් බැහරව තර්කානුකූල විසඳුම් දෙසට නොබියව පිය නැගීම මගින් සාපේක්ෂතාවාදය ලොවට හඳුන්වාදීමට අයින්ස්ටයින්ට මෙසේ හැකිවිය.

අපගේ ඉන්ද්‍රීය ගෝචර මනසට ගෝචර වන ලෙසම හැසිරීමට විශ්වය බැඳී නොසිටී. ඉහත සිද්ධිය දැන් අයින්ස්ටයින් මුලින්ම කල ලෙසට සරල ගණිතයෙන් පෙන්වමු. විශ්වයේ භාෂාව ගණිතයයි.  මෙයට අකමැති අයට ලිපිය අවසානයේ ඇති ගැටලුව වෙත කෙලින්ම යොමු වීමට හැකිය.

   (වම් පස දී නිශ්චලව සිටින්නාට අනුව කාලය t යනු දුර බෙදීම වේගයයි.)    1

 (දකුනු පස, ගමන් කරන්නාට අනුව කාලය t')                                        2

දැන් පයිතගරස් ප්‍රමේයය අනුව

{\displaystyle D={\sqrt {\left({\frac {1}{2}}v\Delta t'\right)^{2}+L^{2}}}.}                                                                         3

ඉහත සමීකරණ 1, 2, 3 විසඳීමෙන්

{\displaystyle \Delta t'={\frac {\Delta t}{\sqrt {1-{\frac {v^{2}}{c^{2}}}}}},}

මේ අනුව ගමන් කරන්නාගේ කාල ප්‍රමාණය (t) නිශ්චලව සිටින්නාගෙ කාල ප්‍රමාණයට (t') වඩා අඩු බව පෙනෙයි.

1 ගැටළුව : 
ඔබ අලෝකයේ වේගය මෙන් අඩක (c/2) වේගයෙන් ගමන් කරන රොකට්ටුවක නැගී වසර 10 ක් ගමන් කර, නැවත පෘතුවියට පැමින සිටී. පෘතුවියේ සිටින ඔබගේ මිතුරන් (හෝ සතුරන්) වසර කීයක් ගත කර තිබේද?  

2 ගැටළුව :
ඔබ 300 ක වේගයෙන් ගමන් කරන අතර ඔබගේ මිතුරා 200 ක වේගයෙන් ඔබ දෙසට එයි. පසුකර යන මොහොතේදී ඔබ දෙදෙනාම අනෙකාගේ ඔරලෝසුව කැරකෙන වේගය බලා එය තමන්ගේ ඔරලෝසුව කැරකෙන වේගය සමඟ සසඳයි. ඔබ දෙදෙනා ගේ සැසඳීම් වෙන වෙනම කෙසේ වේද?

දින කීපයකින් පිලිතුරු සඳහා කොමෙන්ට්ස් බලන්න. එමෙන්ම ඔබගේ පිලිතුරු සහ අදහස් කොමෙන්ට්ස් වල පල කරන්න.

මීලඟ ලිපියෙන් තවත් විශ්මිත විද්‍යා සොයාගැනීමක් සමඟ හමුවෙමු!