Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Academic Research: Basic Referencing 101 -- A case study of Bernstein's Beveridge, Zhu & Pun (2016)

Image from virtualhighschool

"If something is difficult but important and necessary for the future, do it now and don't do it later. Down the road, nobody will be sorry that they took early action, most people are sorry that they take late action." -- Elon Musk

Everybody knows that the future is renewable energy because it is sustainable energy production, and everybody knows that the future has no internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles because what we need is sustainable energy consumption. Then why are there still people who want to protect the oil industry? Do they even care about our children, grandchildren and future generations?


And I'm not even going to talk about distortion of data and deceptions in argument today. If you are interested in those, please read Letters to the editor, April 26 2016 on SCMP written by Charged Hong Kong chairman, Mark Webb-Johnson.

I'm just going to talk about Referencing 101 for research students.

As a lecturer/tutor at a university, I always use the first lesson of any course to talk about the importance of referencing and citation, no matter it is a Bachelor's or a Master's degree course. Cite clearly and only the creditable and authoritative. It's fine to cite yourself, but only if that has been published and peer reviewed. Most important of all, be aware of what you make reference to at all time, read thoroughly what you cite, ask where the data come from, how it was analysed and how it comes to its conclusion. Why? Because if what you cite is based on outdated data, faulty method of analysis or conclusion, and if you develop your study on it, then your study is pretty much worthless. My students are pretty awesome, they often understand the logic behind, but sometimes, even the professional researchers can go wrong with the basics.

I refer to the Bernstein report titled "Bernstein Energy: Oops - Hong Kong (and China) EV Subsidies Are Leading to More CO2 Emissions, Not Less" by Neil Beveridge, Ph.D., Robin Zhu and Tracy Pun (2016).

Before we even go into the data, let's talk about general referencing issues with this report Beveridge, Zhu & Pun (2016, p.4).

Figure from Beveridge, Zhu & Pun (2016) Exhibit 4
Now, if you pay attention to the 'Source' in the above Exhibit 4, you will see it comes from "Bernstein analysis and estimates". The problem lies in what analysis and estimates they have done. When I do my analysis and estimates, I will publish it, every single step and detail of it, and I will cite myself by offering every bit of detail to readers such that they can find it, and I'll make sure they are publicly available. Now if I want to look for the analysis and estimates performed by Bernstein, where can I find it? Who can I look for? Now, in "Fuel Efficiency of Electric Vehicles (2) 18 kWh per 100km, it is made reference to "Bernstein Technology Team", which means basically, it is either not published or it is published but readers won't be able to find it due to the lack of source in this 'Source'.

Then there are 3 items which are not even cited, they are "CO2 produced per 100km", "Total Lifetime Distance", Total Fuel Related C)2 Emissions". Already, I am getting a feeling of 'Don't ask, just trust me'.

Under "Battery Production CO2 Emissions (3)   5.6 tonnes CO2", we finally get a bit of reference, which goes to McManus (2012) "Environmental Impacts of batteries for low carbon technologies compared" published by Applied Energy, so we take a look at this reference, turns out, it is not even the full report but just a newsletter summary and it is not published by Applied Energy, but by European Commission.

Bernstein Energy: Oops - Bernstein Research Team cited Wrong Reference, Not Correct (Recreativity of their original report title).

So, I went the extra mile and try to find where that McManus (2012) really is, turns out the title is different when it was published, instead it is "Environmental consequences of the use of batteries in low carbon systems: The impact of battery production". The name is different in the journal version, changed from "Impact" to "consequence". Now if I were marking this paper, I would have stopped here and sent it back to my student and asked them to re-do it before resubmission. But, because I'm a nice teacher, I let-it-go for once.

Before we go into looking for the number from McManus, I need to know what number I should be looking for, so I looked at p.4 of the report, an excerpt is shown and highlighted below.

Excerpt from Beveridge, Zhu & Pun (2016, p.4) 

So despite lots of assumptions based on no reference other than Bernstein Technology Team ('Don't ask, just trust me') and a comparison of a car which hasn't even in the production stage and has not released details of its battery size, it is this line -- "a typical lithium ion battery produces 12.5kg of CO2 for each kg of battery produced" that I should be looking for. So, I went into the FULL report, which all students should, to search for the quoted figure. And here is Table 2 in McManus (2012, p.293).

McManus (2012, p.293)
Before we go deeper into asking McManus where he got his number from, take a look at the unit "kg CO2 eq". CO2e or carbon dioxide equivalent is not exactly the same as carbon dioxide because the former includes other greenhouse gases such as methane, perfluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide. Okay, but I'll let-it-go again.

Looking at these numbers from McManus (2012, p.293), if I were going to use them, I would first ask myself, how did McManus arrive at these numbers? Did he make reference to each/some of these numbers? No. Could he have calculated these numbers from some raw data? Maybe, because I can't find the exact match for these numbers even going all 31 references cited by McManus (2012). But where do the raw data come from? No idea. What's the formula used in calculating each one of the above item? No idea.

Hey, Locky, maybe you don't know how to calculate because you are not in this field! True, I admit, but back to the basics of referencing, it is clarity that matters most, because any papers published in good journals are supposed to be comprehensible by newbies like me, if I have to go and ask all these questions and do my own calculation of each of the figures, then something has gone very wrong with this paper. Or again, should I 'Don't ask, just trust me'?

Okay, let's assume McManus's figures are brilliant and very much reliable, but how can he get Climate change (kg Co2 eq) right? Because emission of CO2 eq differs from country to country, grid to grid. What fuel mix is used in calculating this? 99% coal or 55% coal for Hong Kong's average? Some might say, hey, what does it matter? They are taking a constant across all battery types. True, but doesn't that affect the Fossil fuel depletion (kg Oil eq) because that is exactly a dependent variable of Climate change (kg CO2 eq)? Okay, say I let it go again! Say I trust McManus (2012) 100%, without knowing the fuel mix used in this paper, do you think Bernstein's calculation will be problematic in their Exhibit 4? Obviously Beveridge, Zhu & Pun (2016, p.4) haven't considered this, otherwise they wouldn't have just done that simple calculation on p.4.

One last point I have to make in terms of good referencing especially when dealing with technology-related numbers: technology advances quickly, numbers go down in reliability with time. For Beveridge, Zhu & Pun (2016) to be citing McManus (2012) who used NMP data from Zackrisson, Avellan, Orlenius (2010) who used numbers from Rydh & Sanden (2005a, 2005b) who used numbers from Almemark, Granath & Setterwall (1999) whose report is available only in Swedish and can no longer be found on the internet.

Now, do you see a problem here?

All in all, when writing an article, one needs to realise the reliability of your calculation if you have based it on certain references and assumptions. For the former, if you don't know how the author arrives at that number and you used it, the reliability of your calculation has just dropped at least 50% and it can go all the way to 0%. For the latter, if your assumption has about 90% reliability, but you make 4 of these in the same calculation, then it only has 66% reliability (=90% x 90% x 90% x 90%). Personally, anything less than 80% reliability is unreliable. Don't agree? Ask people who complain about the weather forecast in Hong Kong.

PS: BTW, Zackrisson, Avellan, Orlenius (2010) actually realised the problem with fuel mix but McManus (2012) didn't. That being said, their paper is actually on plug-in hybrid, and they also took numbers from Saft (2008), a battery making company that does NOT supply batteries to the company Bernstein's report is comparing with, Tesla.

Elon Musk talks sustainability with Norway Prime Minister (2016.4.21) @YouTube

Letters to the editor, April 26, 2016 @SCMP

Beveridge, Zhu & Pun (2016) "Bernstein Energy: Oops - Hong Kong (and China) EV Subsidies Are Leading to More CO2 Emissions, Not Less" published by Bernstein, not freely available to public.

Environmental impacts of batteries for low carbon technologies compared +European Commission

McManus (2012) Environmental consequences of the use of batteries in low carbon systems: The impact of battery production

Zackrisson M, Avellan L, Orienius J. Life cycle assessment of lithium-ion batteries for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles – critical issues. J Cleaner Prod 2010;18:1519–29

Rydh CJ, Sanden BA. Energy analysis of batteries in photovoltaic systems. Part 1: Performance and energy requirements. Energy Conserv Manage 2005;46:1957–79.

Rydh CJ, Sanden BA. Energy analysis of batteries in photovoltaic systems. Part 2: Energy return factors and overall battery efficiencies. Energy Conserv Manage 2005;46:1980–2000.

Saft, 2008. Annual Report, Saft Batteries.

Almemark M, Granath J, Setterwall C. Electricity for vehicles—comparative life cycle assessment for electric and internal combustion vehicles for Swedish conditions [in Swedish]. Elforsk report 99:30, ELFORSK, Stockholm, Sweden, 1999.

Friday, 18 March 2016

News: A Ransomware called Locky and TeslaCrypt!!!

Image from ESET

I know I have been writing about Tesla quite a lot lately, as this is what I have been doing day in day out, but I swear these ransomware have nothing to do with me and Tesla!

According to welivesecurity,

Since the end of February we have observed several propagation campaigns of ransomware – for example Locky and TeslaCrypt – being spread using the JS/TrojanDownloader.Nemucod malware. Those campaigns have achieved very high detection rates in ESET telemetry systems, such as LiveGrid®, with countries like Japan reaching almost 80%.
Those detection rates are calculated thanks to the users who are sending data automatically using the LiveGrid® System; it shows what percentage of the total amount of detected malware in our servers belongs to one variant.
Image from ESET
I'm not very happy about this, because now if I search my name, my blog doesn't show up as first search results any more!
"Locky" as search keyword
Image from Google

Trojan Downloaders on the rise: Don’t let Locky or TeslaCrypt ruin your day @welivesecurityNews

Friday, 26 February 2016

Auto & Environment: EV Numbers and Growth in Hong Kong as of Dec 2015

EV Numbers and Growth in Hong Kong as of Dec 2015
Image from Locky's English Playground

The Transport Department of Hong Kong (TD) has released the finalised figures yesterday and it shows how precise my estimate is. Comparing with my post 2 days ago, the total number of EVs is off by just 1, that is my estimate of 4068 versus TD's 4067. And because the number is only differed by 1, all calculated  percentages about Tesla Model S stay unchanged and accurate.

(For calculations of those percentages, please read my previous post Auto & Environment: EV Numbers and Growth (Estimates) in Hong Kong as of Dec 2015 (Pre-TD Figures).)

In the final quarter of 2015, Hong Kong enjoyed the best EV number increment since EV FRT waiver has been installed in 1994. With three consecutive record-breaking numbers from Oct 2015 to Dec 2015 (352, 437, 504), Hong Kong has added 1293 EVs in this period, or 31.8% of the total EV population in the city in just 3 months. The total number of EV per new vehicle purchase has raised from 12.87% in Oct to 16.26% in Nov and to 17.66% in Dec, which translates to 1 EV in every 6 new vehicles. Indeed, an incredible achievement and victory for all people of Hong Kong! Then again, because EVs only constitute 0.51% of all vehicles in Hong Kong, this victory is only a 0.51% victory. In order for Hong Kong to reach 25.5% of Norway, there is still a long way to go.

A long way, but the best and only way.

Hong Kong has lost its fighting spirit as a leader in Asia or the world for a quite some time, many of those No. 1 status Hong Kong was once proud of are now with Singapore and major cities of China. Now, for once in a very long time, Hong Kong has finally found something that they can be in a leader's position, not only in Asia but in the world, Hong Kong must not easily throw it away this time. As Tesla CEO Elon Musk puts it,

“Hong Kong is a beacon city for electric vehicles, [it can] serve as an example to the rest of the world on what to do, I currently do not foresee any city exceeding Hong Kong. It will be the leader of the world.”

Electric vehicle, battery technology and green energy are the future, and the future starts now. Will Hong Kong continue to embrace EV or will Hong Kong let all EV initiatives end by March 2017 with the expiration EV FRT waiver? "Government is committed to promoting the use of electric vehicles." How committed is the Government? How much effort are they willing to devote to fight climate change?

"When you are talking about losing all of nature, it's not a spectator sport anymore." -- Louie Psihoyos, director of Racing Extinction


Auto & Environment: EV Numbers and Growth (Estimates) in Hong Kong as of Dec 2015 (Pre-TD Figures)

LCQ9: Exemption of payment of first registration tax for electric vehicles

Norway Begins 2016 With Over 25% Market Share For Plug-In Electric Cars @InsideEVs

With Tesla’s Model S now Hong Kong’s top-selling sedan, chief Elon Musk predicts city to become world leader in electric vehicles @SCMP

Electric Cars Could Wreak Havoc on Oil Markets Within a Decade +Bloomberg Business

Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (3)

"Racing Extinction" Official Trailer @ YouTube

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Auto & Environment: EV Numbers and Growth (Estimates) in Hong Kong as of Dec 2015 (Pre-TD Figures)

EV Growth in Hong Kong
Image from Locky's English Playground

First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to Forbes journalist John Kang for using my Jun/Jul 2015 estimates. It was a good article he wrote so please show your support by reading it.

While I anxiously wait for the Transport Department of Hong Kong (TD) to release their December 2015 statistics (which should be within this week), I am interested in knowing how far my estimates are from the actual ones, which is why I am releasing my latest estimates now. I will release another update when the actual figures are out.

EPD provisional overestimates VS TD actual
Image from Locky's English Playground
The main difference between this estimate and all previous estimates (eg. June/July, Oct) is the prediction of TD's actual numbers from the provisional ones released by the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong (EPD). As the above table, it is obvious that EPD's overestimates are somewhat consistent every month. Therefore, taking the extra 130 from 11/30/2015, I can predict the TD actual numbers to a very high level of accuracy. In the case of 12/31/2015, the predicted total EV number in Hong Kong is 4068.

With this number, the total number of EV sold in Hong Kong in 2015 can be backtracked, hence 2630 (= Dec 2015 - Dec 2014). Since Tesla Hong Kong's official numbers of Tesla Model S sold in 2015 is 2221, Tesla Model S sold in Hong Kong in 2015 accounts for 84.45% of all EVs sold in the city last year.

Based on the assumption that this percentage remained the same in 2014, the number of Tesla Model S sold since July 2014 launch till end of 2014 will be 708 (= (Dec 2014 - Jun 2014) x 84.45% = 838 x 84.45%).

Combining 2014 and 2015 numbers, the total number of Tesla Model S sold in Hong Kong should be 2,929 (=2221 + 708), thus giving a percentage of 72% (=2929/4068) in the entire EV population in the city.

The limitation to this estimate is obviously the assumption made that Tesla Model S was sold with the same percentage in 2015 and between Jul 2014 and Dec 2014, which may or may not be true. However, should I further assume that the percentage between Jul 2014 and Dec 2014 was only half of 84.45%, bringing the total down to 2640 (=838 x 0.5 + 2221), Tesla Model S would still account for 64.9% of the entire EV population in the city, in a sense, still very close to 70%.

Let's see how close my estimates are when actual numbers from TD is released later this week.

Tunnels, Sliding Doors And Mars: Tesla's Elon Musk Speaks In Hong Kong +Forbes

Auto & Environment: EV Numbers and Growth In Hong Kong As Of June/July 2015 @Locky's English Playground

Auto & Environment: EV Numbers and Growth In Hong Kong As Of Oct 2015 @Locky's English Playground

Promotion of Electric Vehicles in Hong Kong @ Environmental Protection Department

With Tesla’s Model S now Hong Kong’s top-selling sedan, chief Elon Musk predicts city to become world leader in electric vehicles @ SCMP

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Food & Dining: Crab & Prawn Soup Udon by DONKA @North Point

Image from Locky's English Playground
What's better than a bowl of hot noodles for lunch on one of those coldest days of the year?

DONKA in North Point could be one shop you might want to visit some day. The shop is about 5 mins walk from Fortress Hill MTR station, right beside City Garden Hotel.

Looking out from the shop
Image from Locky's English Playground
The shop is not exactly a big one, and not exactly at a popular area where there are numerous pedestrians, instead it is one family-owned mini-restaurant which you will expect quality food from.

Image from Locky's English Playground
Before we placed our orders, we were drawn to the garden-style decor.

Homeliness and coziness
Image from Locky's English Playground
Very simple blend of real plants, wooden furniture and ceiling, warm ceiling lamps to create focal points. It is like one of those warehouses in the gardens, or a sweet little wooden hut up on hill tops.

Daily lunch sets
Image from Locky's English Playground
It offers a variety of selection for lunch, but its signature dishes are not on the lunch menus.

A la carte menu
Image from Locky's English Playground
The best are on the a la carte menu.

Image from Locky's English Playground
The four most lethal soup bases: crab soup, vegan soup, fish soup and prawn soup.

Crab soup udon
Image from Locky's English Playground
My wife is a crab lover, so she never hesitated. Crab soup was thickened with eggs, perfect for mixing with adequately chewy udon.

Hot lime tea
Image from Locky's English Playground
And it comes with a lime drink! My wife loves this set, and wants to go back for more just by looking at the photo.

Prawn soup udon with prawn and fish fillet
Image from Locky's English Playground
As for mine, the prawn soup udon with prawn and fish fillet was definitely the best choice for someone like me who adores richness and depth in taste. One sip and I could tell the soup was the essence of hundreds of prawn shell extract. Never have I encountered a more stimulating version of this soup. It is the one soup that is capable of making all bland tastes great!

Charcoal grilled prawn and deep fried fish fillet in soup
Image from Locky's English Playground
In addition to the incredibly mesmerizing soup was the charcoal grilled prawn. Too bad there weren't four or five of them in the bowl because one was less than my bare minimal requirement.

Deep fried fish fillet failed
Image from Locky's English Playground
The udon was almost perfect, except that this wonderfully golden deep fried fish fillet was only semi-cooked. Probably because the fillet was frozen before fried, so the centre had little time to reach maturity.

Beautifully fried fish fillet (second piece)
Image from Locky's English Playground
The chef cooked a second attempt for me without hesitation, but in spite of this, the second attempt yielded similar result. This confirms my prediction that the fillet had not been probably defrosted. The second piece did have a better bite as it was soaked in the soup, and maybe it should be served separately in the future.

Image from Locky's English Playground
Overall, it was a great experience and I drank every last drop of the soup. The fish fillet though, I did not dare to consume.

Happy couple feeding
Image from Locky's English Playground
At over $120 a bowl, I would say once in every 3 months is about what we can afford, but if you can afford it, it is the one bowl of udon you will be impressed with every time you have.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Event & People: 2 Cool Ways to Take a Selfie with Elon Musk

Elon and I
Image from Locky's English Playground

You can either go meet him face-to-face,

Elon and I on SCMP
Image from SCMP
or, be placed on the same news article as he does, either way, what an honour!!!

Of course, the best is still getting an actual one side by side... pity... oh, that makes 3 cool ways and not 2 right? Whatever!


With Tesla’s Model S now Hong Kong’s top-selling sedan, chief Elon Musk predicts city to become world leader in electric vehicles