Canadian brings power to the people with clean technologies

By Trista di Genova
Staff Writer

* Phipps' Clean Development Group tackles eco-friendly development and IT issues at the same time.
* Phipps' Clean Development Group tackles eco-friendly development and IT issues at the same time.
Toronto native Scott Phipps came to Taiwan with a mission. After graduating from the London School of Economics with a master’s degree in Communication and Development, he consulted governments, then worked with academia, NGOs and international organizations – and the private sector.

“As impetus for starting my own company, I realized I wasn’t happy with how all these different sectors dealt with international development. I’d taught at universities, advised in private sectors and decided to start my own approach to dealing with international development with a sustainability component,” he said in an interview last week.

Less than a year later, he gained recognition from the United Nations for his efforts, “and from that on, it started growing.”

Two years ago, he started his own consulting company, the Clean Development Group (CDG), which provides solar, wind and biomass energy to communities, companies and individuals around the world. According to CDG’s website, its focus is “directly addressing issues of environmental sustainability and the global digital divide, building a full-scale project group that does everything from the original design of each renewable energy project to its construction.”

“Most of my work is done with federal governments and international organizations,” he says, and mostly in developing countries.

“Now, the big issues are energy — clean, effective energy. That’s why I work with wind, solar and biomass energy. Then other issues are dealing with conflict resolution and education. And they’re all heavily entertwined.”

“The reason I’m here in Taiwan is because I order my equipment from here, because it has high production values, the quality control is good and prices are good. I could go to China and get better prices, but the quality isn’t as good,” he explained. “I’m focusing on Taiwan’s solar products, particularly photo-voltaic (PV), but also wind and biomass equipment.”

Then it takes a lot of skillful negotiation. “I negotiate the projects with the other countries and international organizations. Once I’ve done that and come to necessary terms, I design the project or projects, because sometimes it’s more than one. Then I order all equipment based on those designs and ship it, then follow it up shortly after I ship it. Then I go to the country and build the project with a local crew. In that way, there’s somebody in each country who knows how it works and how to maintain and repair it.“

Scott is currently working on two projects in Samoa, and starting one project in Panama. “Those are my three current projects, with others on the go. But they’re long-term projects with many multi-leveled stakeholders involved, and will take a number of years to complete because of their scale and number.”

He’s been coming to Taiwan off and on for past three years and “basically came here with a long-term girlfriend.” He stayed in Taiwan after “they went their separate ways,” because he “quite enjoys the quality of life;” Taiwan and England, he feels, are his second home. “Taipei as a city is totally discombobulated but that’s a part of its charm,” he remarked.

Scott spends time in Taiwan touring different factories and companies, and attending trade shows. He goes to international trade conferences, here and abroad, such as the one sponsored by the U.N. in Athens and Kuala Lumpur. In 2006, he spoke on a panel on the world’s information infrastructures with one of the two “fathers of the Internet,” Dr. Vinton Cerf at the IGF (International Governance Forum).

He’s constantly having meetings, figuring out what new technologies are available in solar and wind fields, identifying different suppliers of solar, wind and energy storage. He and his new partner, Jonathan Raabe of Colorado are soon going to British Columbia to check out cutting edge technology in industrial storage systems.

“There are many different types of clean energy, renewable energy. Oil, coal and gas are going out the door because they create a lot of pollution, and involve power control structures, and violence ensues from that. So they’re not very viable sources of energy anymore. All these companies are realizing that waves and geothermal are new sources of energy that are reliable and clean, and they’re more and more abe to build their infrastructure upon that, as the development become more reliable,” he said.

“Taiwan is very good at the development, design and manufacture of the newest technologies in these areas, such as polychrystalline and monochrystaline (the two most popular ones), amorphous thin film, and CIGS (Copper indium gallium selenide). But they’re not technologies that are widely used in Taiwan. I would like in my efforts to speak with the government to expand these technologies further in Taiwan, and see them more readily utilized, as in the most progressive countries of Germany and Japan,” he said.

“And there isn’t just one type of solar energy, there are multiple types,” he stressed. “In technology like solar and wind there’s no production of emissions. That’s why I tend to favor those technologies. And wind – we’re looking at Canada and the U.S. for cutting-edge wind technologies and turbine design.”

He sees biomass technology, which he describes as “finding a better way to get rid of and incinerate garbage and produce energy from it,” as more readily available in smaller economy situations and more readily applicable to larger economies like India and China.

“But biomass doesn’t burn so cleanly so the offshoot is minimal. Wind production is a very enviable attractive energy option. So sometimes I like to bring hybrid systems of PV and wind. It’s most logical to use that because otherwise we’re currently unable to maximize the power outlet of the system.”

At time of print, he was off to North America to ready the next batch of equipment and return to Samoa, and was looking forward to spending quality time with his family.

Originally published in The China Post Sunday, September 21, 2008

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We pop the question to Taiwan's 'young heavenly king'

Jay Chou is the emperor of Mando-pop. But does he plan to conquer the West, too?

By Trista di Genova

 Jay Chou has model looks, management skills and classical music training. It's a recipe for success.
Jay Chou has model looks, management skills and classical music training. It's a recipe for success.

Westerners react to the music of Jay Chou (周杰倫) in one of two ways. They either see it as an introduction to Chinese language and culture; or they cannot bear it because there’s not enough rock ‘n’ roll for their tastes. There’s never been a rock revolution in Asia, so Jay Chou’s work could seem like a litany of love ballads that all sound alike.

However, on listening closely a Mando-pop first can be heard: the successful marriage of East and West.

Chou was trained in classical music and has combined this with Western elements — R ‘n’ B, pop, rap, heavy metal and experimental genres.

This winning formula isn’t something he aims to change. His awards number in the hundreds. This year alone he’s won 58.

He’s been awarded the accolades of best Asian male singer, best songwriter in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China (to name just a few) and has appeared on the cover of Time. But for Chou, “Sales are more important than awards.”

Not bad for a 27-year-old from Linkou (林口), Taipei County.

The release last week of Chou’s sixth album, November’s Chopin (十一月的蕭邦) was awaited by millions. Named after his favorite musician, the album is another cultural fusion and includes five torch songs crafted specifically for the KTV market.

Sony BMG is already pleased with the album’s pre-sales, 1.5 million in Asia.

Jay’s total artistic control over his work was earned after years of composing, gaining rights to his own music, managing his image, and directing music videos.

For Hair Like Snow, Alpha Music wanted to pursue a traditional Chinese music style.

Jay only agreed to do the song after the label promised that it would break with tradition.

With lyrics written by Vincent Fang (方文山), Chou composed the melody, using an eight-tone Chinese “hook.” Then an imperial-style set was rented for the music video that cost NT$1.5 million and which Chou directed.

His manager, Yeung Jin-long (楊峻榮), trusts Chou’s creative judgment, saying he “doesn’t care what Jay does with the money, because good music is money.”

“Director Chou” is using the experience to vault into film and music production.

He’s been nominated for the Best New Performer award at this year’s Golden Horse awards for his role in the film Initial D (頭文字D).

Chou plans to direct a movie, Bangka (艋舺), and has even announced his intention of starting a music studio to foster other people’s talents when he hits 30.

Jay exercises the same sensational effect the Beatles had on the West in the 1960s.

Yet when asked who his favorite Beatle is, he said “everybody loves them,” and said he couldn’t name one in particular.

In Taiwan, every telephone shop, tabloid or passing public bus seems to carry his image and every 7-Eleven and hair salon seems to play his music.

Referred to as the “young heavenly king,” (小天王), Chou is considered to be among the generation of Asian Pop kings that include Andy Lau (劉德華), Aron Kuo (郭富城), Jacky Cheung (張學友) and Leon Lai (黎明).

Some say he’s the best Taiwanese artist to emerge in decades, if not ever — a raw talent becoming ever more refined.

All those years spent daydreaming in class, learning the ropes from former manager Jackie Wu (吳宗憲), and crashing on the couch at the recording studio have finally paid off — big time.

Jay is the pride of Taiwan, although he may deny it. He wisely ducks politics, enabling him to tour China, something his compatriot, singer A-mei (張惠妹), has had trouble doing.

Does he feel Taiwanese or Chinese? “Wherever I go I tell others I’m Asian, because we have the same yellow skin,” Chou said.

Is Jay Chou a man in complete control of his career?

By the way he strode into a press conference on Monday, a dark silhouette with the elegant slouch of a poet musician, it would seem so.

Directed to pose, he did so — in a rather deadpan way — patiently fielding questions from TV and radio journalists, then settling down to a roundtable talk with 16 reporters, including myself.

Reputedly a “mumble-rapper,” in person Jay Chou is poised and articulate, deftly parrying the inevitable questions about his private life.

“Would you invite [your girlfriend] Pattie Hou (侯佩岑) to be in your music videos?” one asked.

“That would be awkward,” Chou quipped back.

“You are always the one in a relationship to finish it. What do you think?” another asked.

“Gossip again,” he said, mentioning a compulsion to “be careful about the girls.” He and past collaborators have gone on the record as “non-lovers.”

The paparazzi have been intrusive though. Several paparazzi chased him down Keelung Road a few weeks ago as he was driving a car with Hou by his side. An angry Chou pushed over a Next magazine reporters’ scooter.

“I focus on my career,” he said. “Music is what’s important. There’s a day when I’ll kiss girls and they won’t care,” he said.

Even so, he said he wrote Tse Mian Chu Ge (四面楚歌) about his relationships. A proverb signifying “surrounded on all sides,” the song likens Apple Daily journalists to a “team of dogs (狗仔隊).”

“They bite an apple in their mouths, long cameras in their hands, seems they want to talk conspiracy,” the lyrics say.

When asked about his English ability, Chou replied, “I have no talent for studying, only for making music.”

When I asked how he planned to enter the Western market, Jay said that since his English “had stopped at junior high school,” and his native languages are Chinese and Taiwanese, he made music “in Chinese only,” adding he would “never do a song in English.”

In the past, though, he has incorporated some Hakka, Japanese, Korean and Cantonese into his songs.

The following day’s media reports focused on Chou’s “poor English,” and how there were many foreign reporters at the press conference. There was only one — myself.

Despite the media, Jay seems to have taken his meteoric rise in his stride.

It is widely known he still manages to shoot some hoops.

And he’s been given credit for not contracting “the illness of conceit.”

The pressure of fame, he once said, “was like watching a movie. I change into a detective, or maybe a racer when others chase after you. You need to adjust your own mood.”

Jay plans to tour Japan in June, and is considering playing in England.

Maybe he will decide to hire an English teacher, but then again he doesn’t need to tap into the English-speaking market.

With an average 3 million sales per album in China alone, and lucrative Pepsi and Panasonic contracts as icing on the commercial cake, his English skills are irrelevant.

First published in the Taipei Times, Sunday, Nov 06, 2005, Page 18
This story has been viewed 5586 times.

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