Laid back for summer

Bernard Grech has become less and less effective as time passes...His words hardly excite the most loyal PN supporters, let alone those who have led their independent way on their favourite issue without taking any notice of what the PN is saying or doing – or not doing to be more precise

Summer-time and the temperature that comes with it in Malta does not provide a good background for political battles and in that hot season, there is usually a lull in political comment and criticism, and more so in action. Thanks to climate change, this year the heat is even harsher than usual.

This lull seems to be affecting Bernard Grech and the party he is said to lead more than others. With the established blogs keeping on blogging the same type of ineffective anti-government criticism, it was left to Graffitti to take the lead.

In the past, I have found myself at loggerheads with Graffitti on several instances but I cannot but admire the way they handled the Comino deckchair issue – not that it makes their political tenets more palatable. But they cleverly realised that action on the Comino cause could propel them into being more effective than all other NGOs. To me this means that Andre Callus has more leadership qualities than Bernard Grech.

On a national level, the political opposition to the government is in tatters. The promise of so many new and young Nationalist MPs following the election has vaporised into thin air. We have several NGOs, bloggers, political commentators and news sites that more often than not are more interested into picking issues between themselves, at the expense of giving less importance to criticism of the Abela-led government. Differences have sprouted even within the PN itself, with Grech proving to be incapable of steering a tight ship in stormy weather. This bickering will lead nowhere except to more Labour electoral victories.

And so we have a lot of dogs biting at the bear with no one capable of giving it the mortal blow, so to speak. It’s even worse because the dogs are continually being tempted to bite each other, thus relieving the bear of a lot of pressure.

Malta needs a leader that is capable of galvanising so much energy and guiding it in one direction: to attack fatally the government of the day... if we really hope to end the seemingly never-ending series of Labour administrations that looms over the horizon. How can the PN move forward when it has even failed to pick up the issues that could possibly tempt recent Labour voters to switch to PN?

Has anybody in the PN taken up seriously the research required to assess the end result of our ‘Dubai-based’ economic model? That is what the PN should be doing while in Opposition: proposing a new economic model that will replace the one that Joseph Muscat had opted for. Robert Abela has continued on the lines established by Joseph Muscat, with nobody studying the eventual effects of the constant rapid increase in population that is needed for Malta to keep on pursuing this economic model.

The political lull in August and the first half of September is nothing new. More so, as traditionally during this period, the PN used to be preparing for the political season – so to speak – to open up with a bang through the Independence anniversary celebrations centred around the 21st September. These party celebrations have recently been very subdued with very poor attendances, reflecting the shocking dip in popularity that the PN has managed to reach. This year it will be worse not better.

Bernard Grech has become less and less effective as time passes – and the surveys have reflected his waning popularity. His words hardly excite the most loyal PN supporters, let alone those who have led their independent way on their favourite issue without taking any notice of what the PN is saying or doing – or not doing to be more precise.

I remember that when Josie Muscat tried to take a different political line than that being pursued by Eddie Fenech Adami as PN leader, he was quickly stopped. Whether Josie was right or wrong was irrelevant: the PN could not afford to fight on two fronts that were in some aspects contradictory.

Now we have innumerable NGOs picking up their favourite issue and ‘fighting’ on their own while the PN looks on, confused as to what issues it should pick up in its attempt to regain the popularity of the past.

Meanwhile, I bet that the PN’s summer lull will continue all the year round.

Attractive solar panels

A report on Euronews says that researchers in China have been working on an inexpensive way of colouring solar panels without reducing the power they produce. At the same time, researchers from the American Chemical Society have created solar panels that can take on a whole range of colours while producing energy just as efficiently as traditional ones.

As solar panels become a more popular source of energy, they are no longer being used only on rooftops. In urban areas abroad, where space is at a premium, placing solar panels on facades or other more visible parts of buildings is becoming a necessity.

However, their standard dull colour leaves designers with few options to make buildings attractive. Some architects have even described solar panels as ugly or an eyesore, saying their appearance is an obstacle when integrating them into projects.

Things appear a particular colour because they reflect back that particular wavelength of light instead of absorbing it. So if solar panels are to absorb as much heat as possible, they need to be a deep black colour.

Previous attempts to make the panels more attractive have resulted in less power being produced, apart from higher costs.

The American team sprayed the surface of the panels with a thin layer of something called photonic glass. It is made of microscopic spheres of zinc sulphide that allow most of the light to pass through. Some light, however, is reflected back depending on the size of these spheres.

Using this material, researchers made the solar panels take on hues of blue, green and purple. And, despite the coloured coating, their efficiency only dropped from 22.6% to 21.5%.

These panels with photonic glass maintained their colour and performed well in durability tests too. The team behind the research say that the technology can also be easily scaled up for manufacturing.