Sunday, August 19, 2018

Umpteenth time the citizen is willingly robbed: Gov't utility makes less efficient panels, closes production line, retools premises & tries again with federal (Italian gov't) and confederal (EU Commision) money

In Shadow of Mt. Etna, Europe Makes a Last Stand for Solar. Stanley Reed and Keith Bradsher. The New York Times, Aug 18 2018,

Many governmens do this, allowing themselves to support experiments with the citizen's money despite previous costly failures. Example this time in Italy, courtesy of the New York Times.

After shutting down a previous line that made panels a third less efficient than Chinese technology, they are at it again:
CATANIA, Italy — The enormous glass building on the outskirts of this Sicilian city had been intended for making silicon wafers for flash memory chips. That plan got crushed by the global financial crisis.

Built in the early 2000s, it was overhauled in 2011 to churn out conventional panels used to build solar farms in Greece, Italy and South Africa. Once again, the factory struggled, this time losing ground to Chinese rivals that trumped it on price, as well as on technology.

They speak of ENEL as if it were a utility company:
Now, the facility’s owner, the Italian utility Enel, is changing tack again, betting on an advanced, commercially untested system for solar panels. This time, Enel hopes it finally has what it takes to challenge the industry behemoth — China.

But these are ENEL owners, data from 2017, starting with the most important one (

Name                                                   Equities      % 
Government of Italy                                2,397,856,331    23.60%
The Vanguard Group, Inc.                             204,756,632     2.01%
Norges Bank Investment Management                    192,438,206     1.89%
BlackRock Fund Advisors                              134,870,693     1.33%
Capital Research & Management Co (World Investors)   129,335,830     1.27%
BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Ltd.            110,581,006     1.09%
Capital Research & Management Co (Global Invest's)   102,060,459     1.00%
Franklin Mutual Advisers LLC                          87,716,590     0.86%
JPMorgan Asset Management (UK) Ltd                    80,839,145     0.80%
BlackRock Advisors (UK) Ltd.                          62,558,753     0.62%

And now, again after about two decades trying and losing money, they are at it again:
Enel believes that by focusing on an esoteric technology, it can afford to make panels here and avoid a price war. It hopes that its products, which can capture more energy from the sun’s rays than those of rivals, will offer greater value than cheaper models.

China is a tough challenger to beat. The country’s manufacturers have established giant factories, complex supply chains and global networks of suppliers. Having driven prices relentlessly lower, they, too, are now innovating, rivaling the world’s best in efficiency while scoring breakthroughs like building enormous floating solar farms or experimenting with installing solar panels in roads.

“Making solar power is not rocket science,” said Jenny Chase, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research firm. “It is something you can do more cheaply when you have a big manufacturing base.”


In the latest such instance, as prices for solar power dropped sharply in recent years, the Italian utility came to a difficult conclusion: Its panels were already a third less efficient than those developed by Chinese manufacturers, and that gap is likely to widen over time.

“We said to ourselves: ‘We have bought the company. What do we do?’” said Antonello Irace, the head of the Catania unit, known as EGP 3Sun.

Mr. Irace eventually admitted defeat, shutting down the old production line last fall to retool the plant.

How is this new production line getting the money? Are they competing with others, or are they getting their backs covered? See the guarantors:
Enel is spending 87.5 million euros, or about $101 million, on new equipment and other changes, of which the Italian government is chipping in €14 million. The European Union is adding an extra €9 million to help cover operating expenses.
The Catania plant is likely to begin producing state-of-the-art solar panels next year, after trial runs in the coming months. It is embracing heterojunction technology, a system that has not been commercially proven. It involves adding a new, microscopic layer of silicon to solar cells, increasing their ability to gather sunlight and convert it into electricity.

These new panels will also be “bifacial,” meaning they will be able to gather light not only directly from the sun but also from stray beams that bounce off the ground.

Enel expects that panels made in the first year will be able to convert around 20 percent of sunlight to energy, which is toward the higher end of industry averages. It hopes to reach 25 percent in five years — which would help offset their higher cost.

That could make a big difference in winning projects. Bids on giant solar farms worth hundreds of millions of dollars are increasingly price sensitive, and costs are falling fast.

Mr. Irace said the new designs were especially promising for the sunny Middle East, where countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been ramping up solar programs.

Those efforts may amount to little, however, if Enel cannot produce its panels on a larger scale, sufficient to compete with rivals from China.

For now, Enel aims to produce around 500,000 panels a year, a drop in the bucket compared with its Chinese competitors. In effect, it is “shipping cartons and crates,” said Chris Buckland, head of technology at Lightsource BP, a British solar developer. By contrast, Chinese companies are filling “40-foot containers.”

The Italian utility’s difficulties ramping up output point to the vastly changing fortunes of the solar sectors in Europe and China.


That is the route Enel is trying to follow in Sicily. Although heterojunction technology is not patented, Enel hopes that refinements it has made to the manufacturing process will give it a head start on rivals.
Deep, intelligent intervention of a patriotic man, who fights for the greening of the economy, the planet's health and for all of humanity:
“We have to manufacture modern, advanced, innovative products in their initial life cycle,” said Antonio Cammisecra, the chief executive of Enel Green Power.

This is the real reason for the governments support (with both federal and national level backers): Government assistance to regions, according to quotas:
If Enel succeeds, it will give a crucial lift to a region that has lost as much as a quarter of its industrial capacity since the financial crisis, said Armando Castronuovo, an expert on the area at the University of Catania. The city’s economic backbone — agribusiness and tourism — has held up relatively well, but youth unemployment remains around 40 percent.

Enel has drawn on the local university to find the advanced science graduates necessary to ensure it can continue to come up with cutting-edge technology. In all, it has preserved some 300 jobs at the plant and a nearby research center.

There is nothing that can be done, since everybody has stakes in this kind of fraud. The citizen expects to take some of the spoils of the Treasury to give employment or at least subsidies to their children. And the politician gives his closest ones good jobs and a future.

Enhancing CCTV: Pixel averages improve face identification from poor‐quality images

Enhancing CCTV: Averages improve face identification from poor‐quality images. Kay L. Ritchie et al. Applied Cognitive Psychology,

Summary: Low‐quality images are problematic for face identification, for example, when the police identify faces from CCTV images. Here, we test whether face averages, comprising multiple poor‐quality images, can improve both human and computer recognition. We created averages from multiple pixelated or nonpixelated images and compared accuracy using these images and exemplars. To provide a broad assessment of the potential benefits of this method, we tested human observers (n = 88; Experiment 1), and also computer recognition, using a smartphone application (Experiment 2) and a commercial one‐to‐many face recognition system used in forensic settings (Experiment 3). The third experiment used large image databases of 900 ambient images and 7,980 passport images. In all three experiments, we found a substantial increase in performance by averaging multiple pixelated images of a person's face. These results have implications for forensic settings in which faces are identified from poor‐quality images, such as CCTV.

Human testes are relatively small for body size: Copulatory and Postcopulatory Sexual Selection in Primates

Copulatory and Postcopulatory Sexual Selection in Primates. A F Dixson. Folia Primatologica 2018;89:258–286.

Abstract: Many aspects of primate reproductive anatomy and physiology have been influenced by copulatory and postcopulatory sexual selection, especially so in taxa where multiple-partner matings by females result in the sperm of rival males competing for access to a given set of ova (sperm competition). However, the female reproductive system also exerts profound effects upon sperm survival, storage and transport, raising the possibility that female traits influence male reproductive success (via cryptic female choice). Current knowledge of sperm competition and cryptic choice in primates and other mammals is reviewed here. The relevance of these comparative studies to our understanding of human reproduction and evolution is discussed.

White-collar offenders, including those holding high-trust organizational positions, engaged in regulatory income tax violations and regulatory traffic violations at significantly higher levels than did controls

Rule-violating behaviour in white-collar offenders: A control group comparison. Joost HR van Onna, Victor R van der Geest, Adriaan JM Denkers. European Journal of Criminology,

Abstract: This study aims at enhancing our understanding of criminogenic individual-level factors in white-collar crime, that is, fraudulent acts carried out in an occupational capacity or setting. We do so by examining consistency of rule-violating behaviour across different settings outside the occupational context in a sample of white-collar offenders (n = 637) and comparing it with a matched control group (n = 1809), controlling for socio-demographic, crime and organizational characteristics. Results show that white-collar offenders, including those holding high-trust organizational positions, engaged in regulatory income tax violations and regulatory traffic violations at significantly higher levels than did controls. This study concludes that individual characteristics are likely to underlie the identified cross-contextual consistency in rule-violating behaviour and debates the relevance of the findings for white-collar crime in organizations.

Keywords: control group, high-trust position, individual differences, rule violation, white-collar offenders

Antisocial personality constructs: Tactical and strategic image cultivation and defense behavior

Profiles and profile comparisons between Dark Triad constructs on self‐presentation tactic usage and tactic beliefs. William Hart, Gregory K. Tortoriello, Kyle Richardson, Christopher J. Breeden. Journal of Personality,


Objective: The present research profiled antisocial personality constructs in relation to tactical self‐presentation behaviors and various beliefs associated with such tactical behavior.

Method: An MTurk sample (N = 524; Mage = 37.89; 61% female) completed indices of the Dark Triad (DT; narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy) and self‐reported their use of various self‐presentation tactics, their beliefs about the subjective logic for executing the tactics (which encompassed ratings of the tactics’ utility, ease of execution, and normativity), and the potential for each tactic to arouse self‐recrimination.

Results: Results revealed high convergence between the DT constructs on a relatively malignant approach to self‐presentation. DT constructs related to enhanced usage, enhanced subjective logic, and reduced self‐recrimination ratings for all the tactics, except pro‐social ones (exemplification and apologizing). Nonetheless, results also revealed some notable anticipated instances of nonconvergences between the DT constructs and tactic usage.

Conclusions: The findings highlight that DT constructs function rather similarly at the level of self‐presentation and suggest value in considering the DT constructs as indicative of strategic, subjectively logical image cultivation and defense behavior.

Memory for everyday driving: Large number of “false alarm” answers suggested recall was coloured by what usually happens on familiar roads

Memory for everyday driving. Samuel G. Charlton, Nicola J. Starkey. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Volume 57, August 2018, Pages 129-138.

•    Drivers completed 14 km circuit of familiar roads on road or in video-based simulator.
•    Participants’ free recall of drive frequently included bad behaviour of other drivers.
•    No observed differences between on-road and simulated drives in accuracy of cued recall.
•    Large number of “false alarm” answers suggested recall was coloured by what usually happens on familiar roads.

Abstract: As drivers, we often have the sense that we can recall very little about our everyday trips, particularly on familiar roads when nothing untoward occurs. The failure to recall incidental events from a routine drive is not surprising if these drives are performed at a fairly automatic or preconscious level of engagement. Some researchers have suggested that danger, difficulty, and consequentiality are what make events and actions memorable for drivers. To investigate what drivers remember from a routine trip, we asked participants (n = 75) to drive familiar local roads on a 15 km urban route either on-road in an instrumented car, or in the University of Waikato driving simulator (with and without a passenger). At ten predetermined locations on the drive participants were asked to provide ratings of perceived risk, difficulty and anxiety. At the end of the drive, participants were asked a free recall question about what they remembered from the drive, followed by cued recall questions about six of the locations from the drive prompted by photographs. In general, participants recalled very similar things from the drive, notably what they saw as the poor behaviour of other drivers. The participants’ recall accuracy was rather poor, with memory for whether they had stopped at a particular location having the highest accuracy. Memory of whether there were vehicles ahead and whether they had stopped had a high number of recall false alarms, adding to the suggestion that participants remembered the locations and what usually happens there rather than detailed recollections of a particular occasion. There were no observed relationships between recall accuracy and perceptions of driving risk, difficulty, or anxiety. The results indicated that memories of everyday driving are combinations of examples of bad behaviour of other road users and our recollections of what typically happens at familiar locations.