“The proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it.” —Barry Commoner
I've always loved nature from a very young age. So growing up and seeing its destruction in the name of progress has always made me question how we humans view development.
How is it that we build new roads, skyscrapers, schools, hospitals, and more, which are needed to advance the human race? But at the same time, we can't find a way to live in harmony with the planet and balance the two: infrastructure growth + a sustainable planet.
My mission has always been how we live in harmony with the planet. If we killed humans at the same rate we kill animals for food, the entire population would be gone in 17 days. The reality is that we only live on mother earth for 50 to 100 years at most, while she’s been around for 4.5 billion years and likely for a few more billion years.
So really, we’re just passing through, and as a good guest, we should always leave the place in a good way, or an even better way, than when we first arrived.
This is why it excited me when I learnt about the power of the sun as a source of energy, and similarly with hydro and wind. I’m also a big fan of sustainable nuclear power as a clean and cheap energy source.
As a tech geek, I’ve always loved inventions that use technology and renewable energy to advance our development yet live in harmony with the planet.
The foray into renewable energy
About nine years ago, I read an article that said Malaysia was the world's third largest solar PV manufacturer. That was, in many ways, an AHA moment for me.
Seeing that this RE Tech (renewable energy technology) is available in my backyard, I must see what my team and I can do to participate. And that’s how we first launched the Solar Academy to train B40 youth with the technical skills to be able to participate in this evergreen (pun intended) industry.
We then started SOLS Energy in 2015 to help more Malaysians have green solutions for their homes and businesses.
Eureka! Charge Singh is born
As a Malaysian born in a multicultural society I love and cherish, I've always been grateful to be born Punjabi.
Though we're a minority in Malaysia, we're full of colour, music, food and intelligence. Thus, in honour of my heritage, I wanted to name my latest startup ChargeSingh. Plus, it's catchy, easy to remember, and a play on chargING.
In many ways, ChargeSingh is a promise that this Singh makes to Malaysia: that we are accessible, committed and are here to walk with you side by side on this fantastic EV (electric vehicle) journey.
The venture into EV chargers
I’ve been a petrol head all my life. I love cars. I love to drive them, try out different types of cars and, much to my wife’s annoyance, I’m constantly modifying, upgrading and tweaking them.
Years ago, I read on Tun Mahathir’s blog that Proton had built an electric car that won an award in Australia for going a long distance. This first piqued my interest that electric cars are a real possibility.
Then Elon Musk started building this world-changing, gorgeous, super-fast electric car, and I was sold.
For me, electric cars are the future of road cars. We already have electric trains, trams, and bicycles that work well, so bring on this new exciting future for road cars!
After that, I came across a second issue. When I considered buying a Tesla from the GreenTech program about 4 to 5 years ago, I realised there wasn't enough infrastructure to maintain the cars in Malaysia and, more importantly, charge the cars. So I had to put my plans on the back burner.
Then last year, I read that the Malaysian government was offering fantastic tax incentives on electric vehicles and, more importantly, tax rebates for homeowners buying EV chargers for their homes. I was like, "This is it". Now is the time for my team and me to start getting into this.
It's important to realise before any market can truly grow, the innovation-invention needs to meet the regulatory and government support with financing options. With these, you have the recipe for growing actual market adoption.
Now that all these pieces were more or less in place it was time for my team and I to start our EV journey.
Future of EVs in Malaysia
Oh, the future is BRIGHT! (pun intended). Today, we are already starting to see that fossil fuels are unsustainable and getting more expensive. It burns a massive hole in anyone's wallet which uses RON 97 and above. The government cannot sustainably subsidise RON95 as the international markets are getting increasingly expensive.
This is another excellent opportunity to help the Malaysian market realise that EVs and chargers are great for the environment and you and your family. They are sustainable and affordable; trust me; they will only keep getting cheaper.
Just like the case of solar power. It’s cheaper to produce energy by solar today than it is by coal or gas. The cost has decreased by 90% in just ten years and stabilised.
The other key component needed for energy storage is batteries. And just like solar, more and more inventions are coming out almost every week, making battery tech more affordable, long-lasting and sustainable.
I believe in the next five to ten years, we will no longer require gas, coal or diesel power plants.
ChargeSingh complementing the EV landscape in Malaysia
We believe that we should democratise the nascent EV market in Malaysia. I can see more big corporations are trying to enter the market and create locked ecosystems. If we truly want every Malaysian to choose an electric car, we need to give them options that work anywhere and everywhere.
EV chargers should be placed in all strategic locations such as office buildings, homes, malls, hospitals, airports, parks, restaurants, etc. Basically, any place someone could drive to and spend a good 30 or more minutes stationary at the location. This is more than sufficient time to charge an EV.
ChargeSingh is bringing chargers that are truly amongst the best and cheapest in the market... More importantly, we promise to walk side by side with our customers to ensure their EV journey is smooth and risk-free.
We’re also building the tech that will allow anyone to find and use our chargers. We’d love to work with all the EV manufacturers and providers to bring EV Chargers to all Malaysians. We must unite if we genuinely want to see a fast and excellent EV adoption rate here in Malaysia. Monopolies will only dampen our EV adoption rate, thus all chargers should work for any and every Malaysian who has an Electric Car, just like how you can pour petrol in any petrol station, the standards and system are exactly the same, it’s only the brand that differs.
I encourage every one of you to come to talk to us and check out www.chargesingh.com. See the types of chargers available, the cost, and also read the articles on our blog to learn more and be inspired to build a greener and sustainable future for our children and us.
By Teacher Raj