Industry Europe – Issue 31.5

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VOLUME 31/5 – 2021











Shortages, deluges and a bridge to net-zero In our final issue of the year we focus on three of the stickiest challenges facing global industry right now: the semiconductor shortage, the rapidly growing deluge of single-use plastics, and the ongoing push – especially in harder-to-abate sectors such as aviation and shipping - to reach net-zero as humanity attempts to mitigate the worst effects of climate change and keep the planet below that crucial 1.5 C temperature rise, as laid out in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

Chips on our shoulders? 2021 has been a year marked by various shortages from gas to truck drivers to shipping containers to abattoir workers. These shortages have been compounded by supply chain disruptions occurring in the wake of the the pandemic. The first of these stories of scarcity, and arguably the one with the biggest impact, has been the shortage of semiconductors - the focus of our cover story. While the root causes of this are manifold, the event that brought it to a head is somewhat obvious – Covid-19. 2020 - the year when we all stayed home - saw a boom in sales for consumer electronics such as games consoles and 5G-enabled smartphones, as a bored, locked-down population looked for things to do and spend their money on. At the same time, the automotive industry was attempting to shake off oil, accepting the inevitability of the shift to electric vehicles, and increasing investment in eMobility. As we all know, home electronics and EVs all require semiconductors. Suddenly, a new spotlight was shone on hitherto relatively obscure multi-billion tech companies like Taiwan’s TSMC as electronics companies, automakers and governments alike looked to woo them to fulfil their production demands. Of course, as with many manufacturing sectors, the pandemic had put a dampener on production within the semiconductor sector itself. The situation was worsened by the disruptions to global shipping caused by Covid. One telling moment was when Samsung, which sells $56 billion of semiconductors to others, and consumes $36 billion of them itself, had to postpone the launch of its own Galaxy Note smartphone due to the crisis.

In September, Industry Europe’s very own Ash Jones spoke to Rekha Menon-Varma and David Chouvelon from Vertaeon. The interview focused on the global chip shortage and took a deeper dive into how the automotive industry should prepare for the looming supply chain disruptions and chip scarcity that may lie ahead for the EV market.

The Plastic Population While plastic is unquestionably one of the most versatile man-made materials, and one which is incredibly useful, we all know by now that we can’t go on like this. Humanity’s plastic addiction has reached feverish levels and shows little sign of abating. According to the UN Environment Programme, if current trends continue, plastic could account for 20% of the world’s emissions by 2050. Indeed, some elements within the oil sector are banking on our continued, unquenchable lust for plastic driving profits as the combustion engine car is phased out. Plastic has now become so prevalent in our environment that some are touting it as one of the indicators for the dawning of the Anthropocene era. A recent study also found that the Covid-19 pandemic has only made the issue worse, with billions of pieces of Personal Protective Equipment further compounding the problem. It’s not all doom, gloom, and dead sea animals though. Many companies are making efforts to replace single-use plastics, and legislation like the EU’s ban on certain single-use plastics may be flawed but certainly offer baby steps in the right direction. While plastic has seen its reputation fall from its golden era in the 1950s to the environmental bogeyman it is today, there is still room for a nuanced debate on its future as a material. In our second focus, Ben Smye, Head of Growth at Matmatch, argues that there is still a place for it in our world. As a material, its versatility makes it hard to replace. What is needed, he says, is to rethink our approach. Designers should no longer view it as disposable but as durable and long-lasting. He argues that an improvement in waste management and recycling techniques,

coupled with a more long-term approach to product and packaging design, should allow plastic to assume a new role – one of long-term permanence rather than singleuse, disposal products.

Cleaning up our act As Covid-19, hopefully, turns into something we are learning to live with, and the lukewarm successes of COP26 are still fresh in our memories, attention has turned back to the other, much larger crisis of climate change. Recent events in Madagascar, which simply appears to be drying up, not to mention all those Pacific island nations which will probably be submerged over the course of the next century, are stark reminders that a global pandemic is only the start of our troubles. The burning issue of our time is how we transform our energy supply, our transportation, and our manufacturing processes. As urgent as things may seem, necessity has and will always be the mother of innovation. The climate crisis comes at a time when our technological ability provides us the tools to make that transformation. What’s more, the political will is there too, by and large, both in governments and the private sector, as well as among the general public. Decarbonisation is a process and as such there are numerous ways in which we can clean up our collective act. One of the interesting grey-areas in the energy transition is biomass. While it’s renewable, it can be destructive to biodiversity, especially when forests are cut down to make way for plantations. And while emissions are far lower with most forms of biomass, they are not carbon neutral. Our third focus is an interview with Lord Adair Turner and Dr Meera Atreya of the Energy Transitions Commission about their report on the role that biomass can play. Unlike the previous ETC reports this year on hydrogen and electrification, this one strikes a more cautious note. And while biomass may not be a viable end solution, they argue that it could provide an important bridge as harder-to-abate sectors invest in developing net-zero technologies which help power their own transitions to n a cleaner future. Industry Europe 3



VOL 31/5

Comment 3

Editorial Director Steve Gislam

Managing Partner & Production Director Stephen Moore

Editorial Manager Ash Jones

Operations & Finance Director Tania Balderson

Profile Writers Romana Moares Barbara Rossi Dariusz Balcerzyk Edina Beale Philip Yorke Emma-Jane Batey Eugenia Fiusco Piotr Sadowski

Sector Managers Oliver Clements Michael Hudson Szidonia Hajdu

Katarzyna Pozoga

Editorial Shortages, deluges and a bridge to net-zero

Focus on Industry 4.0


Looking beyond the semiconductor shortage Vertaeon

Focus on Chemicals & Biochemicals 8

PET hates: rethinking the demonisation of plastics PET

Focus on Energy & Utilities 10

Biomass and Its role in the energy transition ETC

Aerospace & Defence 14

Aerospace & Defence news The latest developments in the sector

Chemicals & Biochemicals 18

Chemicals & Biochemicals news The latest developments in the sector

Construction & Engineering

Art Director Leon Esterhuizen

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Supplier of innovative cable and wire solutions Coroplast Group Experts in plastic products Bepolplast Construction & Engineering news The latest developments in the sector

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LOOKING BEYOND THE SEMICONDUCTOR SHORTAGE Industry Europe talks with Rekha Menon-Varma and David Chouvelon from Vertaeon about how the automotive industry should prepare as supply chain woes and mineral scarcity loom for the EV market.


upply chain woes originating during the coronavirus pandemic have affected industry in several ways, but none are more pressing than the ongoing semiconductor shortage which has slowed the automotive sector to a crawl. The sector is currently under regulatory pressure across the world to reduce its overall carbon emissions, resulting in a massive transition to electric vehicles, a trend that is certain to continue throughout the next decade. Supply chains have had to become more robust to accommodate, with key automakers and tech firms investing more and more

into semiconductor capacity, urged on by governments like the US and EU. "The imbalance created by the ongoing chip shortage is an excellent example of a perfect storm caused by the convergence of evolving market trends and semiconductor industry structure, overlayed with geopolitical tensions, and post-pandemic demand surges,” Rekha Menon-Varma, co-founder and managing partner at Vertaeon told Industry Europe. “The chip shortage highlights the need for the automotive industry to have better visibility into manufacturing suppliers and partners, to gain a clear understanding of

the volatility and shortcomings within its supply chains. While there’s an enormous amount of data available, many organisations haven’t leveraged it toward meaningful contingency planning for the next shortage," she added. Vertaeon currently specialises in cloudbased analytics tools that provide risk assessment and mitigation planning for companies that act as important links in global automotive supply chains. "All the evidence we've found points to the semiconductor shortage lasting until at least 2023," according to David Chouvelon, a business development advisor for Vertaeon. Industry Europe 5


"The systemic shortage of the raw materials required for the production of chips may not continue long-term, unlike the issues with battery development for EVs, which we are already seeing becoming an issue in the future," he added. As demand for electric vehicles continues to surge, the demand for batteries will continue to climb. While the semiconductor shortage may end relatively soon, battery supply can only be dealt with by automakers increasing domestic supply, as is being seen with some larger developers such as Nissan in the UK or Bosch in the EU. However, industry leaders may have missed two major points regarding the semiconductor shortage. The first, Menon-Varma claims, is the investment and planning needed to prepare for such a shortage would take "years and billions of dollars", and the second was a "slew of macroeconomic factors" such as demand fluctuations preceding the shortage which suppliers were unprepared for. Investment in early warning signals could be key in preparing for any potential pitfalls in the future, and AI and machine learning 6 Industry Europe

could better equip companies to tackle supply chain issues. Chouvelon added: "Software and algorithms can help companies reduce uncertainty by providing them with increased visibility that has been extracted from available data. Artificial intelligence and machine learning come into play here, as it would otherwise take an incredible amount of manpower to crunch the information available from different sources to find trends. "This is what software-as-a-service models (SaaS) do - we customise based on a specific sector so that we can extract trends or identify risks for large sets of companies. "It's not just about predicting the future, it's also about preparing for specific events. If you have disruptions due to extreme weather, for example, you need to know what specifically would be impacted on the supply chain, and having the tools in place to anticipate and enact contingency plans could prevent risks escalating." "Many of us have automotive industry experience and the human element can be key to applying things to various industry sectors to help them best accommodate

their needs," Menon-Varma added. "Knowing what data to analyse is just as important as having the means to do so." Government support for domestic chip production has been very strong. Back in April, US President Joe Biden rallied automotive leaders and tech giants to invest in infrastructure to help combat the shortages. This initiative was given a $150 billion injection in May. In addition, Biden also recently pledged to make half of the US' cars electric by 2030, which should cause something of a demand boom for batteries. It is therefore imperative that automakers get ahead of current issues to meet these goals. Chouvelon said: "There is still something of a resistance to change, be it through range anxiety or any other number of issues. Demand is often not enough, and government incentives are a good way to convince people to make the switch. Demand is often not enough, and government incentives can skew the natural market dynamics." Samsung is also in the process of deciding on a location for a mammoth $17 billion gigafactory. The city of Taylor, Texas, which

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has become infamous for its use of conflict minerals, such as cobalt. Credit: The Carter Center / G. Dubourthoumieu

is one of the potential sites, has recently offered large property tax breaks as an incentive to chose their city as the location. Samsung already operates a chip production plant in Austin, Texas. The EU has also made moves to tackle the chip shortage and the advancement of quantum technology, the former of which may be a bit ambitious owing to Europe lacking sufficient market infrastructure to justify the investment involved in a megafactory. Furthermore, Tech giant Intel has also pledged €80 billion in funding for EU chip development. The rally to get EV production rolling at maximum capacity is even more crucial in the UK, which has vowed to ban fully petrolpowered cars by 2030 and trucks by 2040. "Another trend we are seeing is in the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) side. We fully expect to see more partnerships happening - perhaps not through outright purchases - but we should see more alliances, memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and deals between suppliers and manufacturers", Menon-Varma added. "We may also see a new initiative known as 'friendshoring', or collaborations and partnerships between governments to tackle the crisis." However, she warned that, despite investments, rollout onto the production lines may take several years and M&A may come under more regulatory and political scrutiny, such as what is being seen with NVidia's recent acquisition of Arm. Tackling redundancies in supply chains was an issue only exacerbated by the pandemic and the growing demand surge, she added, with it being present for several manufacturers before. This can be done by ensuring you have multiple suppliers or through the contingency measures mentioned earlier through having a clear understanding of market dynamics. "Another hotspot we identified was through financial risk analytics. Early on, we could tell who would struggle and who would operate at a decent capacity through their cash flow and liquidity", she said. "Some smaller players have been acquired by a larger company or gone out of business during the pandemic." Chouvelon said: "Downstream value chains are usually vulnerable to one key component, which may spark innovation to see what can be done without the raw materials, such as alternative technologies or ways of operating with a reduced supply.

"The other way is to invest in ways to gain alternate forms of raw materials - such as the recent joint venture by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Bloomberg to look at mining in Greenland." The three primary raw materials used in the creation of car batteries are lithium, cobalt and nickel. Lithium mining has always been carbonintensive, so alternative solutions are being devised, such as the Zinnwald lithium project on the German-Czech border which will look at reducing the emissions along the lithium value chain and should see use within the EU. The primary concern for cobalt is the human cost. Much of the world's cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has seen issues regarding child labour being used in mining, leading to initiatives, such as "controlled mining zones" in the country. Other manufacturers, such as Intel, are taking a harder stance by refusing to do business with unethical suppliers. "There are many different ways you can acquire these minerals, but the global market and environments are changing, and I don't think we can accurately predict who may control supply in key areas such as Greenland or South America within a decade," Chouvelon added. Vertaeon believes there could be "tremendous geopolitical shifts" at play that could control who has access to endproduct raw materials. "Each country has very aggressive goals for EV production," Menon-Varma. "An issue

that is likely to arise is raw material supply not being able to keep up with demand. "One solution we saw during the chip shortage was a change to some of the features. We may see this again, but within actual designs for the electric vehicles themselves to manage with the existing supply of batteries and raw materials," she added. As they stand right now, current goals for EV production could be perceived as unrealistic, but Vertaeon has suggested breakthroughs in recycling technology could stand to revolutionise battery capacity. Chouvelon said: "Gaining a strong foothold in the supply chain rather than depending on traditional supply and demand may be key to overcoming shortages with raw materials. Whereas before the primary issues associated with these raw materials involved costs, now there are other things to be concerned about, such as reliability. "Sometimes, it may be worth paying a little extra on materials to ensure the delivery of parts, because the cost of production pitfalls can exceed any extra you pay on materials." The firm also suggests working to ensure conflict minerals - such as those mined in the DRC - are responsibly sourced, which could also stand to increase reliability downstream along the value chain. "Ultimately, having adequate intelligence is key to navigating the complexity of these markets and is what we offer with our risk analytics platform which can aid companies in strategic decision-making in a secure and user-friendly manner", Vertaeon concluded. n Industry Europe 7



By now, we are all familiar with the controversy and challenges surrounding the usage of hydrocarbon-based plastics, which have fallen from wonder materials to world-polluting menaces in the span of 100 years. One particular plastic, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), has borne the brunt of this global scrutiny.


ere, Ben Smye, head of growth at sustainable materials researching and sourcing platform, Matmatch, explains why there is still a place for PET in the modern world. It may seem unusual, but one of the best snapshots of modern society’s changing relationship with plastics can be seen in the fashion shows of New York. Several models graced the catwalk with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) bottles of Evian water in the 1980s, silently endorsing single-use plastics to onlookers. 8 Industry Europe

Some 30 years later, during 2019’s New York Fashion Week, Evian launched a sustainable, reusable glass water bottle with a bamboo lid. For a brand synonymous with single-use plastic bottles, the shift to glass — if only for a limited edition range — was a clear reflection of modern anxieties surrounding plastic pollution. It is worth noting that Evian has also set the target of using recycled PET (rPET) in its bottle production by 2025 to create a somewhat closed-loop and reduce the carbon intensity of its operations.

Plastic pollution has become an increasingly pressing global issue due to the scale of plastic manufacturing, the wide availability of single-use plastic products and shortcomings in waste management of these products. For many, PET has become the face of this pollution problem. Since the 1990s, the thermoplastic has been the material of choice for bottled beverages due to its strength, stiffness, barrier properties and lightweight nature. Mordor Intelligence estimated that more than 80 million tons of PET were produced in

2020 — a large figure, but one that Mordor notes was “negatively impacted due to COVID19”. In the wider plastics market, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) cites a 2017 statistic that “more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s”, of which 60% has ultimately ended up in landfill, oceans or landscapes. Based on this, we could estimate that, of the PET produced in 2020, 48 million tons will wind up in landfill or as plastic pollution. This is problematic because of PET’s notoriously long degradation rates and the way in which it breaks down over time. In a 2020 paper in the European Polymer Journal, Tian Sang et al. comprehensively reviewed degradation conditions of PET. The paper concluded that the ability of PET to degrade — whether it is via accelerated weathering, hydrolysis or photolysis — is highly dependent on temperature and time. In the cases that most closely resembled natural conditions, the bulk of the polymer was unaffected by reaction conditions, with only the surface chemistry altering. It’s from chemical bonds breaking on the surface of the plastic that we encounter the issue of microscopic plastics. First defined in 2004 by Thompson et al. as up to 20μm in diameter, more recent definitions encompass plastic fragments up to 5mm. Although plastics such as PET do not naturally biodegrade, exposure to certain environmental conditions can cause partial breakdown. Despite the environmental issues, PET still has its functional merits in a more sustainable world. If used and managed in a responsible way, manufacturers can get the benefits of PET, but with a lower carbon footprint and fewer concerns of pollution.

Responsible PET management In many ways, it would arguably have been a better decision for Evian’s 2019 limited edition reusable glass bottle to be made of a durable PET. Doing so would have made a strong statement on the nuance of the plastic debate. One of the primary problems with the likes of PET is the role it is designed into. If a PET bottle is designed to be used once and discarded, the premise of the application itself is wasteful. Plastics such as PET are better suited to longer-lasting, multi-use applications. For example, a reusable bottle made of PET would not be in landfill or recycling plants within a week after purchase. In

effect, it is captured carbon that is being used sustainably. In this sense, there is a responsibility for product designers to rethink the long-term use of their products if they wish to use hydrocarbon-based plastics for application areas such as packaging. Most of the PET that is listed on Matmatch reinforces the idea of long-term use, with many being used in applications such as mechanical systems, conveyor rollers and automotive components. Another way of using PET responsibly is to ensure it is recycled and that rPET is incorporated into new product designs. Currently, PET is the most recycled plastic, with PET resin having a recycling rate of approximately 58% in Europe as of 2017. Recycling PET reduces the need for additional raw materials, with it being possible to use up to 35% recycled granulate in the forming of new bottles. Given that one of PET’s raw materials is crude oil, the 35% reduction has a direct environmental benefit. Contrary to widely held belief, recycled polymers do not always suffer from a loss of performance compared to newly produced plastics. An example of this is the VYPET™ material portfolio by Lavergne. These rPET resins are produced predominately from post-consumer recycled plastics, occasionally reinforced with other materials to enhance the core PET properties.

VYPET resin boasts the durability, high stiffness, high-temperature and chemical resistance and lightweight structure of PET. This makes them ideal for even demanding applications, such as automotive parts, electric motor insulation or structural components. For example, VYPET VNT 615FR is a flame-retardant PET compound reinforced with fibreglass. It is designed specifically for electrical and structural applications, owing to its dielectric strength of 37 kV/mm and excellent mechanical properties. PET’s popularity has persisted because of the properties it provides, which can be challenging to perfectly replicate with alternative types of plastic. To continue making the most of this plastic, there must be a shift in how product designers perceive the material, as well as greater adoption of rPET among plastic suppliers. The continued use of PET depends upon it assuming a new role, as a plastic of longterm permanence rather than of single-use products. If models are to take to catwalks with plastic bottles in hand, it should be a reusable bottle of rPET — showing that the once wonder material still has a place in a n sustainable world. The author, Ben Smye, is head of growth at Matmatch. Industry Europe 9


BIOMASS AND ITS ROLE IN THE ENERGY TRANSITION IE's Steven Gislam spoke to the Energy Transitions Commission's Lord Adair Turner and lead author Meera Atreya about biomass, and how it can help reach net-zero.

10 Industry Europe


June, IE spoke to the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) co-chair Lord Adair Turner to find out about the first two of five reports being published this year on how the world can transition to net-zero – one on electrification, the other on green hydrogen. In July, the ETC released its third report, ‘Bioresources Within a Net-Zero Emissions Economy: Making a Sustainable Approach Possible’, in which it sets out how the rapidly increasing demand for bioresources could outstrip sustainable supply. We caught up with Lord Turner along with the report’s lead author, Dr. Meera Atreya, to

learn more about the role that bioresources can play in the transition. “We'd been developing an overall view of the technologies required to decarbonise the economy,” explained Turner. “About a year ago, we took a step back and looked at all these technologies. That way, we could work out the relative balance, and see where the limits are on how much and how fast you could build. That led to the five reports we’re publishing this year.” “This report is different in tone to the last two. The ‘Making Clean Electrification Possible’ and the ‘Making a Hydrogen

Economy Possible’ reports, essentially say ‘build, build, build, as fast as you can’. There are no mineral constraints, there are no resource constraints, and there aren't, except at the margins, serious local environmental impacts. “This report has a different tone. It says, ‘be careful of overbuilding because you can create adverse consequences. There are inherently constrained supplies. You have to work out what those are and live within those limits.” Bioresources are organic materials made from biological sources, such as plant biomass. Biomass can be directly burned for heat or converted to gaseous fuels and renewable liquids via several processes. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre found that in 2016 energy from biomass accounted for 59% of the EU’s renewable energy consumption, and 10% of total energy consumption. However, as the ETC report points out, “not all biomass is ‘good’ biomass”. This statement is more than simply a soundbite. It cuts to the heart of the sustainability issues connected with biomass production, of which, according to Turner, there are two main elements. The first of these relates to situations where biomass production directly competes with food production. An example of this would be when land for palm oil plantations in Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, began directly competing with land used for food production. Also, these massive plantations can have a detrimental effect on local biodiversity. The second element to consider is landuse change, such as deforestation. “If a piece of tropical forest is burned down and then used for biomass production, while the biomass production from that point on may have a good carbon balance, it'll take centuries before it offsets that one-off carbon release from clearing the forest in the first place,” said Turner. There is also an important distinction to be made, says Dr Atreya, between forms of biomass that require dedicated land use and those that come from waste and residual sources, of which she outlined three main types – agricultural residues, forestry residues, and municipal and industrial wastes. “Biomass in the waste and residues category, which doesn’t require dedicated land use, is synergistically created by industries such as forestry and agriculture. You’re creating timber or food, but some of the

branches, husks, and other leftover biomass can also be used for materials and energy. “There can be a role for land use dedicated to biomass production, but the focus needs to be on land that isn't already being used for human habitation or biodiversity, such as protected forests or natural lands. There really isn’t much land available that isn’t already playing an important role,” she added. Ranking actual types of bioresources on the ‘good to bad’ scale, Lord Turner places palm oil, rapeseed, and soybean biodiesel as on the bad end vs fossil fuel. Better are other ‘first-generation' biofuels such as bioethanol from sugar cane,

Lord Adair Turner, co-chair of the Energy Transitions Commission

sugar beet and to a lesser extent corn. But bioethanol with the lowest global warming potential comes from ‘second generation’ biomass such as straw, husks, forest residues and so on from non-dedicated land, or from switchgrass or short rotation coppice grown on dedicated land. “The crucial thing is, as far as possible, not using biomass from dedicated land, but waste and residues. And then within dedicated land, you've got to ask what would be the alternative use of that land? And if that use was anything to do with tropical forest, don't touch it,” he said. Given that biomass is a finite resource, the next logical question to ask would be about allocation. With different industrial sectors, all having vastly different material and energy requirements and all at differing points along the road to net-zero, there must be an ideal way of putting this resource to use. The main priority, according to the ETC, would be to use it as a material – the increased use of timber in housing, cellulose

fibres in clothing, and as a feedstock for plastics, are just a few examples. Lord Turner argues, however, that beyond material uses there are “two, maybe three contenders trade-offs”. “As a fuel, focus biomass use on aviation simply because we don't have a better alternative. Shipping has better alternatives in ammonia or methanol, road transport has better alternatives in either battery or hydrogen. Eventually, synthetic fuels may beat biofuels in aviation, but for the moment that seems like a higher priority use. “The other high priority use is where you can use it to produce negative emissions because you are attaching it to carbon capture and storage, for example in a power station. So, basically, only use it for combustion without CCS in an environment where there are no alternatives. Where you can use it with CCS, then it may be valuable as a route to creating negative emissions.” While the use of biomass, especially as a fuel may not be ideal, the fundamental point of the ETC report is that it should be prioritised for materials uses and used sparingly, particularly for energy uses as a stopgap while better technologies are being developed. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. With new technologies and improvements to existing technologies coming thick and fast, any breakthrough technologies are more likely to reduce the demand for biomass, rather than unleash new ways of producing it. “To give an example,” Turner says, ending on a note of optimism, “we assume that longdistance aviation needs biofuels or synthetic fuels, but when somebody comes up with a battery which is six times as energy-dense as it is today, you are extending the range of electric flight. Also, the cheaper solar PV and batteries get, the less you need biomass. “We tend to think that we need either fossil fuels or biomass to produce intense industrial heat, but people are working on the issues of how to electrify high-temperature heat production. So, there's a series of technologies, which suggest that bioenergy is not needed. And then there are biotechnologies, which will reduce the amount of land needed to produce food and fibre. “So the good news is that through a combination of those, we may be able this century to release a significant amount of land back to the natural environment and n that includes reforestation.” 11 Industry Europe


New developments in the Aerospace & Defence

Credit: OSORIOartist / Shutterstock

Fujitsu's Quantum-Inspired Solution To Space Junk Industry Europe speaks to Ellen Devereux of Fujitsu UK about its digital annealer technology. by Ash Jones


arth currently has thousands of man-made satellites orbiting it that cover a number of key technological functions, from tracking weather, operating network and GPS services, to taking pictures of space and other planets to help scientists better understand the universe. The issue of space debris and loose objects colliding with each other becomes a more active threat with each passing day. Each successive incident creates a larger pool of junk and the threat progressively builds up until collisions become nearly inevitable. 14 Industry Europe

Space represents the next frontier for human exploration, and a space race between humanity's richest people currently presents both new opportunities and new dangers for the industry as new endeavours are launched to attempt to clean the fields of debris currently laying in orbit. One company that is leveraging its heritage in the Japanese space industry is Fujitsu, which attempts to provide solutions and optimisation across a number of key sectors, from IT to renewable energy.

"This is our first project in space in the UK," Ellen Devereux, a consultant for Fujitsu's digital annealer technology told Industry Europe. "We're operating using similar technology that we use to provide solutions to industries such as logistics, manufacturing, energy efficiency and drug discovery." The company answered a call from the UK Space Agency to tackle the growing issue of space debris after it offered £1 million in funding to aid in the development of technologies in this field. The company's major innovation is its "digital annealer" technology - a quantum-inspired


INDUSTRYNEWS architecture based on current computing capabilities, which Devereux claims is a "fast and powerful tool" for solving certain types of problems - primarily issues outside of human understanding or capability. Fujitsu has partnered with Astroscale, which provides the debris removal tech, Amazon Web Services and the University of Glasgow to perform optimised mission planning to help prioritise which pieces of space debris to remove. "Mathematically, we give the annealer weightings and each piece of debris will be given a desirability rating and the neural network calculates the cost of removing the debris and the time it takes", Devereux said. "With this information at hand, we then take it to the customer, who will specify what type of mission - longer, shorter, cheaper - or do they want to go after the more valuable targets that are more practically or commercially valuable, such as when attempting to prevent collisions with space stations," she added. Fujitsu claims this technology can help companies like Astroscale in their missions to drastically reduce the risk of catastrophic collisions. Debris, whether large or small, can pose a threat to anything in orbit due to the speeds they are travelling at - often as much as 17,500 mph (28,100 km/h). In late May the International Space Station reported a tiny hole in its robotics arm around 5 millimetres in diameter. While the culprit is unknown, it is estimated the object would have been around the size of a fleck of paint. Devereux revealed this highlights how dangerous even tiny pieces of debris can be, but said she was unaware of any current procedures that can be used to remove smaller pieces, as many are untrackable. The parameters of missions are often catered to the specific needs of any potential customers, who will be targeted by Astroscale. Currently, the debris removal device can only target space junk with the same magnetic connector, which makes it particularly helpful in dealing with more recent debris. To this end, there are also a number of sustainability criterium companies looking to launch crafts into space have agreed to, such as having a decaying orbit, effectively allowing the satellite to burn up in the lower atmosphere, or attaching connectors to anything that may detach from the main craft to allow for future missions to salvage them.

Ellen Devereux: Digital Annealer Consultant, Fujitsu UK

Other methods include reusable rockets, such as those being pioneered by SpaceX or development in materials to prevent paint from scraping off, to prevent smaller, untraceable pieces from sitting in orbit. Astroscale's Chaser, a satellite that forms part of the debris removal, is also powered by solar energy, but the use of fossil fuels in the space industry still remains a topic of contention. The technology used in the digital annealer represents the cutting edge of advancement, making use of quantum mechanics that can be combined with AI. Devereux said: "The AI can accurately estimate costs and then creates a wide range of options, from here for the digital annealer to then do the heavy computational calculations to find the optimal answer. This is useful for very large data sets that take a long time to compute values - it allows you to perform calculations far more quickly. "The annealer is working in the same way as a quantum annealer and is capable of considering lots of different options very quickly, whereas using something like a supercomputer would take impractical amounts of time. "The AI is primarily used to predict costs and the amount of fuel required which involves running algorithms on a data set and it will offer results for each piece of debris which allows the AI to 'learn' the best way to handle new pieces of debris." Due to it working with deliberately similar mathematical equations, much of the information could

be lifted straight from the annealer and placed into more advanced quantum architectures of the future to solve larger and more prescient issues once that technology becomes available. "There are still some open questions," she added. "Who owns pieces of debris that have been in orbit for decades? Is it acceptable to deorbit debris originating from other nations? These are things legislators should be asking themselves in order to help streamline and remove barriers for the space industry." Fujitsu's ultimate goal is to make multidebris removal missions more commercially viable using artificial intelligence and quantum-inspired digital annealer technology. However, they also have ambitions to aid in the growth of the UK's own space sector. The UK government has set itself a goal of operating with a 10% market share in the global space industry by 2030. The specific areas the UK Space Sector is looking to develop include space surveillance and tracking, PNT navigation - an advanced, new form of GPS - as well as setting up a UK spaceport in the Shetland Isles alongside Lockheed Martin. Sustainability is also the aim of the game, with Fujitsu constantly optimising fuel usage and mission time, which could stand to reduce the risk of an incident as well as aiding several advantages in the fields of logistics, cost analysis and transport. "If we manage to reduce fuel costs significantly, there is also the option of potentially capturing more debris within a trip, which would also have an effect on our sustainability footprint," Devereux said. Minimising fuel costs can also keep missions more in line with the UK's sustainability goals, particularly its pledge to be carbonneutral by 2050. Outside of space travel, Fujitsu has also applied to present the digital annealer at the COP26 summit, set to be held in Glasgow in November, to help with optimising virtual power plants and helping them use more renewable and sustainable energy with the potential to grow that solution to maximise the efficiency of the entire national grid. "This is still very much in the ideas stage, but the desire to present at the conference is driving n interest," she added. Learn more: Visit: Industry Europe 15


New developments in Aerospace & Defence

Rolls-Royce Completes Flight With 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel by Ash Jones


olls-Royce has successfully completed a flight of its 747 Testbed aircraft using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a Trent 1000 engine. Working alongside Boeing and World Energy, the aircraft flew from Tuscon airport in Arizona, flying over both Texas and New Mexico before touching back down at the same airport nearly four hours later. While the plane's other three engines - all RB211 engines - still ran on jet fuel, the flight marks a milestone for Rolls-Royce as it looks to further SAF for commercial use as part of a push to reduce emissions in the sector. Initial reports from the company hint there were no engineering problems encountered during the flight. The flight was aided by Boeing, who provided technical support and oversight on aircraft modifications and assurance of the aircraft systems for the flight test, while World Energy supplied the fuel.

In a statement, Rolls-Royce has hinted all its Trent family engines could be powered using 100% SAF by 2023 and has called for greater collaboration to reduce emissions in aviation, alongside working with governments to bring in legislation and more ambitious targets. It also hopes to enable the transition for long-haul aviation towards netzero ahead of goals set by the UN's Race to Zero campaign. “We believe in air travel as a force for cultural good, but we also recognise the need to take action to decarbonise our industry", said Simon Burr, the director for product development and technology at Rolls-Royce's Civil Aerospace arm. "This flight is another example of collaboration across the value chain to make sure all the aircraft technology solutions are in place to enable a smooth introduction of 100% SAF into our industry.” Most aircraft are currently only certified to fly on 50% SAF, but RollsRoyce claims certification of flights on 100% non-blended fuel are essential in decarbonising the long-haul sector. Initiatives such as US President Joe Biden's Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge or the European Commission's ReFuelEU scheme are looking to increase commercial adoption of SAF in the aviation sector. World Energy's CEO Glen Gebolys said: “Rolls-Royce’s work to prove the viability of powering the jet engines they make with the 100 per cent renewable SAF […] lays the groundwork for fossil-fuel-free flight. This work is incredibly important, and we applaud and appreciate RollsRoyce for working with us to do it". Visit:

Air Travel Bounceback Expected For 2024, Boeing Predicts by Ash Jones


S airliner Boeing has predicted air travel will return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024 - another two and a half years - following the nearly two years the travel sector has already owing to the coronavirus pandemic. The group's CEO has revealed he expects domestic commercial flights to be at the forefront of sector recovery, particularly for Boeing whose rough year due to low demand was exacerbated by the halting of 737 MAX deliveries following two fatal crashes. Darren Hulst said the industry would recover "to 2019 levels of traffic by the end of 2023, early 2024", adding that long-haul international flights will see a stunted recovery due to continued government restrictions. Boeing's latest annual outlook, which was published on Tuesday (September 14) attempts to predict the long-term outlook for the industry. Overall, the airliner predicts a $9 trillion market over the next decade, up from the $8.5 16 Industry Europe

trillion predictions made in 2020 and the $8.7 trillion predictions made pre-pandemic in 2019. Recovery will also be aided by the addition of 19,000 new aircraft, with the airliner's 20-year predictions up until 2040 estimating 43,500 planes will be in service. Like with many other airliners, Boeing has seen an explosion in demand for its air freight services and projects the global freighter fleet will be 70% larger than the pre-pandemic fleet by 2040. "While we remain realistic about ongoing challenges, the past year has shown that passenger traffic rebounds swiftly when the flying

public and governments have confidence in health and safety during air travel. Our industry continues to serve an essential role of bringing people together and transporting critical supplies," said Stan Deal, the president of Boeing's commercial arm. Passenger numbers last year marked the worst year for the aviation sector on record, with numbers down 60.1% to 1.8 billion, down from 4.5 billion in 2019, according to the IATA. Over 5,000 people from across 20 different travel and tourism associations signed an open letter in September 2020 to call on EU President Ursula von der Leyen to reopen travel after demand was gutted during the pandemic. In the UK, British Airways lead the charge in encouraging governments to reopen travel by promoting the idea of mandatory Covid testing. Vaccine rollout did not dissuade them from these goals, although strong vaccine demand in the UK and the summer holiday boom has allowed for the travel industry to offer some level of recovery. Visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS NASA Perserverance Rover Collects First Martian Rock Sample by Ash Jones


ASA's Mars Perseverance Rover has completed the first step in its decade-long mission to study the surface of Mars by collecting its very first piece of rock from the planet's surface. The rock was collected from the Jezero Crater on September 6 - the 190th day of its mission, which began on February 18 - and was revealed to be slightly larger than a pencil, overcoming previous issues the rover had with collecting samples. The sample is destined to be returned to Earth at some point in the future, but packaging and sending it home will be another ordeal in itself. Collection of the sample began on September 1 when the rover’s robotic arm drilled into a flat, briefcase-size Mars rock nicknamed “Rochette.”

After the coring, it manoeuvred itself so a camera unit attached to the rover could snap the rock as it was placed into a sample tube. NASA is set to host a video conference on Friday (September 10) giving more details about this first phase of the mission and will discuss what the team learned about the rock, and the implications on future sample collections. The sample is currently in an airtight titanium sample tube, with NASA planning future missions to retrieve it. If successful, these samples would be the first set of scientifically identified and selected materials returned to our planet from another. "NASA has a history of setting ambitious goals and then accomplishing them, reflecting our nation’s commitment to discovery and innovation,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This is a momentous achievement and I can’t wait to see the incredible discoveries produced by Perseverance and our team," he added. The rovers missions and sampling is twofold: the first is to search for signs of ancient microscopic life and the second involves studying the Jezero area for indicators on how the planet's climate has changed over time.

German Economy Ministry Releases Arms Industry Sales Data by Steven Gislam


ermany's Economy Ministry has released data revealing the country's arms industry had committed to sales of €22.5 billion since October 2017, when the current legislative period began. The figures also showed that the main recipients of German arms export licences during that period were Hungary, with licences of €2.66 billion, and the US with €2.36 billion.

Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington referred to this as a "historic" moment and compared the sampling to similar goals from the Apollo Moon missions. "Using the most sophisticated science instruments on Earth, we expect jaw-dropping discoveries across a broad set of science areas, including exploration into the question of whether life once existed on Mars," he added. NASA claims the sampling technology is currently the most complex mechanism sent into space containing nearly 3,000 parts. The area of Jezera Crater where the rover is patrolling contains two ridgelines believed to contain the areas deepest and most exposed bedrock. Geologists at the agency hope these samples could tell them about some of the earliest chapters in Mars' history. The rover's initial mission is expected to last hundreds of Martain says and will conclude when the rover returns to its landing site. Following this, it will travel north and west, continuing to collect samples from other parts of the Jezero Crater region. Visit:

Export licences refer to the licence to permit sales in the future, and not the actual transfer of weapons between countries. In the list of Germany's top ten arms industry customers were several non-NATO and non-EU countries, including Algeria (€2 billion), Egypt (€1.88 billion) and Qatar (€720 million). Berlin has also approved several lucrative export licences for Pakistan, India and Indonesia. The Economy Ministry made the information publically available after a request was made by Sevim Dagdelen, a Bundestag MP from the socialist Die Linke (The Left) party, and a vocal critic of German arms sales. Dagdelen is especially critical of some of the export licences granted for sales to some developing countries, which she says only adds fuel to the fire of existing conflicts. According to her office's calculations, which were later reported by Catholic news agency KNA, the released data represents a sharp increase in licences issues to such countries when compared with the two legislative periods prior. During the 2009 to 2013 and 2013 to 2017 legislative periods, arms export licenses issued to developing countries totalled €1.8 billion in comparison with €3.26 billion in the current legislative period. Previously, these sales accounted for 7.2% of total arms sales in the 2013 to 2017 legislative session. In the current session, which will conclude in September, arms export licenses to the developing world account for nearly 15% of those issued. Industry Europe 17


New developments in the Chemicals & Biochemicals

INEOS To Build Large-Scale Green Hydrogen Electrolyser In Germany by Steven Gislam


hemicals giant INEOS has unveiled plans to construct an industrialscale 100MW electrolyser to produce green hydrogen at its site in Cologne, Germany, as the country moves towards its legally enshrined goal of net-zero by 2045. The first stage of the €2 billion project, which is being undertaken by INEOS subsidiary INOVYN, will see the green hydrogen produced at the site being used to power green ammonia production. Ammonia is one of the largest global chemical products and the company says that a transition towards green production methods could lead to a 1% per year reduction in global emissions. The project will also look at the development of synthetic fuels using power-to-methanol, which will also be produced on a large scale at the Cologne chemical park. The company added that it also intends to use carbon capture to aid the decarbonisation of the chemicals sector and, together with green hydrogen, to produce more sustainable methanol As well as ammonia production, the green hydrogen will be used to power other onsite processes at the INEOS facility, to the chemical park's operating company Currenta, as well as other users in the region. The project's overall aim is to reduce direct and indirect carbon emissions by over 120,000 tonnes per year.

Hans Casier, CEO INEOS Phenol & INEOS Nitriles said: "This development builds on INEOS leading role in the decarbonisation of industry with green ammonia, and methanol production from green hydrogen. The transition is driven by the growing demand for low-carbon and affordable energy sources." The project has also passed the first phase of the EU's IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest) process, which looks to bring together key players from a range of sectors into consortia so as to better face the market challenges and systemic failures as it moves towards decarbonisation. Visit:

Twelve & LanzaTech Are Turning CO2 Emissions Into Polypropylene by Steven Gislam


arbon transformation specialists Twelve and biotech company LanzaTech have partnered to transform CO2 emissions into polypropylene, an important thermoplastic used for medical devices including syringes and IV bags, as well as for large-scale applications in the automotive sector, furniture, textiles and other everyday products. California-based Twelve converts CO2 into materials traditionally made using fossil fuels using its carbon transformation technology.

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The process has helped brands reduce or even eliminate emissions by substituting the petrochemicals that were previously in the products with their CO2Made carbon-negative chemicals and materials, as well as carbonneutral fuels. Illinois-based LanzaTech brings to the table its carbon recycling Pollution to Products tech, which uses nature-based solutions to make ethanol and other materials from waste carbon. The companies say that the partnership will bring the two technologies together, allowing for the development of more products from CO2 streams. "Polypropylene is a key material for essential medical supplies and for many products we rely on in our daily lives. Today, 100% of new polypropylene in use worldwide is made from petrochemicals. We now have a way to produce this critical material from CO2 and water instead of from fossil fuels, with no tradeoffs in quality, efficacy or performance. Replacing all of the world’s fossil polypropylene production with CO2Made polypro-

pylene would reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 700 million tonnes per year or more," said Twelve Chief Science Officer, Dr Etosha Cave. "By harnessing biology, we can leverage the power of nature to solve a very modern problem. The overabundance of CO2 in our atmosphere has pushed our planet into a state of emergency. We need all carbon transformation solutions to turn this liability into an opportunity, keeping fossil resources in the ground, and our climate safe for everyone," said LanzaTech CEO, Dr Jennifer Holmgren. To continue the partnership, the two companies were awarded a grant of $200,000 from Impact Squared, a $1.1 million fund established by Barclays bank and entrepreneur platform Unreasonable. They say that the grant money is being used to take a collaborative approach towards mitigation of the impact fossil fuels have on essential products. Visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS All Tomorrow’s Plastics: Data Reveals Which Firms Are Innovating In Bioplastics by Steven Gislam


urope and the US are at the forefront of innovation in plastic recycling and alternative plastics technologies, a new study published by the European Patent Office (EPO) has shown. Europe and the US each accounted for about 30% of patenting activity worldwide in these sectors between 2010 and 2019, a combined total of 60%. Within Europe, the report found that the UK, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium stood out due to specialisation in both plastic recycling and bioplastic technologies, while Germany as the top patent applicant among European countries, lacks specialisation in these fields. The report, entitled Patents for tomorrow’s plastics: Global innovation trends in recycling, circular design and alternative sources, also revealed that the cosmetics and detergents sector is innovating most intensively in bioplastics, with the UK’s Unilever among the top ten patent applicants in this field. “While plastics are essential to the economy, plastic pollution is threatening ecosystems all over the planet,” said EPO President António Campinos. “The good news is that innovation can help us to address this challenge by enabling the transition to a fully circular model. This study offers key insights into a range of promising new technologies that foster the reusability, recyclability and biodegradability of plastic products. It highlights Europe’s contribution to innovation in this sector, but shows that much more can be done to turn pioneering European research into inventions and to bring them to market.” The study made a comprehensive analysis of the innovation trends for the period 2010 to 2019 that are driving the transition to a circular economy for

plastics and looked at the number of international patent families (IPFs), each of which represents an invention for which patent applications have been filed at two or more patent offices worldwide. It revealed that of all recycling technologies, the fields of chemical and biological recycling methods generated the highest level of patenting activity in that ten-year period, accounting for 9,000 IPFs in total - double that of mechanical recycling, the most common method of plastic recycling. While the patenting of standard chemical methods, such as cracking and pyrolysis, peaked in 2014, emerging technologies such as biological methods using living organisms (1,500 IPFs) or plastic-to-monomer recycling (2,300 IPFs) have brought with them new possibilities to degrade polymers and produce virgin-like plastics. In terms of bioplastics inventions, the study found that healthcare is by far the most active industry with more than 19,000 IPFs from 2010-19. However, the cosmetics and detergents sector was named as the most intensely innovative in this field. In cosmetics and detergents, the ratio of bioplastics IPFs to conventional plastics IPFs is 1:3, compared to only 1:5 in the healthcare sector.

With 1,654 IPFs - a global share of 2.9% - the UK, was placed at number 7 in a global country ranking and at number 3 in Europe after Germany and France. A UK-specific ranking of top bioplastics applicants placed Unilever in top position and British American Tobacco and Invista Textiles in second and third place. The study also highlighted the significant potential in alternative technologies focused on new plastic designs that make recycling easier, an area that has developed exponentially in recent years. These technologies have potential applications in aerospace, construction, transportation, wind turbines and microelectronics. The rapid growth of patenting in these fields was found to have been driven almost entirely by innovation in dynamic covalent bonding – an approach allowing for novel designs of durable plastic materials capable of self-repairing. The report also looked at the especially significant role that research played in chemical and biological recycling, with nearly 20% of inventions originating from universities and public research organisations. Most of these research facilities were based in Europe and the US, each with 29%. However, Europe was also found to be the only major innovation hub to contribute a larger share of the chemical and biological recycling inventions from upstream research (29%) than overall in the field (26%). Meanwhile, US companies had generated four times as many IPFs in chemical and biological recycling as their European counterparts - 338 and 84 respectively - suggesting that Europe, despite being active in fundamental research, is not exploiting its full potential when it comes to transferring these technologies to industry. Visit:

Green Wolverine: Fertiberia Joins Green Ammonia Project In Sweden by Steven Gislam


panish fertiliser company Fertiberia has signed an agreement with the Norrbotten region in Swedish for the development of a facility producing emissions-free green ammonia and fertiliser. An investment of around €1 billion is required for the project, which would produce as much as 520,000 tonnes of green ammonia per year for use in the fertiliser and industrial markets. Using electrolysis technology, the only raw materials used at the site will be air and water and will be powered by renewable wind and hydropower energy. Dubbed 'Green Wolverine', this is Fertiberia's first green ammonia project outside Spain. The new facility will be constructed in the Lulea-Boden

area and will feature over 600MW of electrolysers and a green ammonia plant producing 1,500 tonnes per day. The green ammonia from Green Wolverine will also be used in strategic, harder-to-abate sectors such as mining and shipping to aid decarbonisation efforts. Sweden is one of the few EU countries that produces no fertiliser domestically and imports around 600,000 tonnes per year, of which 150,000 tonnes is ammonia. The Green Wolverine project is a bid by the nation towards self-sufficiency, and potentially to become one of the first exporters of low-carbon ammonia and fertilisers in the world. Visit: Industry Europe 19


New developments in the Chemicals & Biochemicals

Yara Acquires Finnish Ecolan To Expand Its Organic Fertiliser Business by Romana Moares


ara Suomi has announced the acquisition of Ecolan, a Finnish producer of recycled fertilisers as the company cements its commitment to play a bigger role in organic farming and in contributing to the circular economy. Yara Finland is a subsidiary of Yara International, a Norwegian chemical company that was founded in 1905 to solve the emerging famine in Europe. It has established itself a unique position as the industry’s only global crop nutrition company. With around 17,000 employees and operations in over 60 countries, the group has a proven track record of strong returns. The Finnish subsidiary makes fertilisers, industrial chemicals and environmental protection products in three production plants that employ 900 people. The company claims that its crop nutrition solutions and digital tools help improve nutrient management practices and land-use efficiency for all farming methods, including organic farming. “By expanding our offerings into the growing organic farming segment in Europe, we can help improve nutrient use efficiency in this segment by capitalizing on our deep crop nutrition knowledge,” says Mónica Andrés, Executive Vice President for Yara Europe. “Our core competence lies in managing nutrients in the most sustainable and efficient way, whether this is for organic farming or conventional

farming. We want to be the leading partner for all farmers, regardless of which farming system they use,” she adds. Ecolan, a Finnish front-runner in the circular economy, utilises industrial side streams to produce high-quality fertilisers for agriculture and forestry. As a result of several years of research and development, Yara brought a new organic fertiliser line with a high nitrogen content, which was produced by Ecolan, to the Finnish market in 2019. “Starting from small-scale production, Ecolan has grown into one of Finland’s leading circular economy industrial companies. Through Yara’s ownership, Ecolan’s know-how can be utilised also internationally,” says Vesa Lehtomäki, Chairman of the Board of Korona Invest, Ecolan’s majority owner. Today many organic waste streams are not being reused or recycled. Recovering nutrients from waste streams and bringing them back into agricultural production helps contribute to a circular economy and reduces nutrient losses. The circular economy has an important role to play in improving nutrient use efficiency, which is one of Yara’s core areas of expertise. Through our strategic partnerships with waste management and food companies, and by leveraging our crop nutrition knowledge, Yara is working to find optimal ways to recycle nutrients that would otherwise end up as waste and then process these to produce organic fertilisers. Visit:

Versalis’ Two New Italian Acquisitions by Romana Moares


he chemical company and Eni subsidiary Versalis has acquired the technology and plants of Ecoplastic, an Italian company that is currently part of the De Berg group specialising in the recovery, recycling and transformation chain of styrenic polymers. Versalis says the deal will allow it to accelerate developments in advanced mechanical recycling and expand the portfolio of the Versalis Revive range of recycled polymers. Ecoplastic has developed a production process of styrenic polymers, expanded polystyrene (rEPS) and solid polystyrene (rGPPS) with recycled content up to 100% starting from secondary raw material obtained from expanded polystyrene waste selected from the industrial and commercial sectors. The new products will be aimed at markets in which sustainability and circularity requirements are rapidly becoming more essential, such as packaging and construction. The agreement with the De Berg group is an important step for the start of the first phase of construction of the advanced mechanical recycling hub as part of the transformation project of 20 Industry Europe

the Porto Marghera plant, where the installation of the units acquired from Ecoplastic will take place from next year. Versalis CEO Adriano Alfani said: “The recycling of plastics is one of the fundamental levers to accelerate the transformation of Versalis through circular models and is part of Eni’s broader strategy for the energy transition, of which the circular economy is one of the core strategic pillars. “This agreement represents a further important step in the development of a portfolio of recycled products capable of meeting the needs of the market both in terms of high performance and sustainability, leveraging technological innovation and strategic supply chain partnerships, as well as our people’s expertise.” This year, Versalis has been on a steep growth path. On 23 September the company announced

that it has exercised the call option to buy the remaining 60% of the shares of the Marche-based industrial group Finproject, which specialises in the compounding sector and in the production of ultralight products, in order to raise its stake to 100%. The transaction, which will be formally completed with closing expected in the fourth quarter of 2021, follows the initial acquisition of a 40% stake in the company in July 2020 from VEI Capital, and is part of Versalis’ strategy to become the Italian leader in the high-performance formulated polymers sector. The full ownership will allow Versalis to develop innovative technological solutions for fashion, design and footwear brands as well as for industrial applications such as cables, pipes, renewable energy, construction and automotive, with significant growth prospects at an international level using a globally consolidated commercial network. Adriano Alfani said: “The acquisition of the total share package of Finproject is a strategic step to further accelerate Versalis’ path towards portfolio specialisation and access to new markets. The combination of our expertise and Finproject’s will allow us to create an integrated technological platform and grow rapidly in the joint development of products and solutions of great value.” Visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS Haldor Topsoe Fires Up Sustainable Methanol Production by Romana Moares


anish chemical technologies specialist Haldor Topsoe is aiming to reduce carbon emissions from fuels and chemicals by setting up a sustainable methanol demonstration plant in its native Denmark. Topsoe specialises in energy-efficient technologies that produce clean transportation fuels as well as ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen – universally regarded as the most important fuels and chemicals in a carbon-neutral future. The company is part of two of the world’s largest renewable hydrogen projects, the NEOM

project in Saudi Arabia and the Copenhagen project, both based on power from wind turbines and solar panels. In October, the company began operating a demonstration plant for the production of sustainable methanol production from biogas. With the demonstration plant, Topsoe will validate its electrified technology for cost-competitive production of sustainable methanol from biogas as well as other sustainable products. The demonstration plant is located at Aarhus University’s research facility in Foulum, Denmark. The plant will have an annual capacity of 10,0000 litres of CO2-neutral methanol from biogas and green power and is scheduled to be fully operational by the beginning of 2022. “Fighting climate change demands clean fuels for all sectors. With this initiative, we will demonstrate that we are able to transform classical production process into a fully carbonneutral scheme,” says Kim Grøn Knudsen, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Haldor Topsoe. “Specifically, we will demonstrate that sustainable methanol can be produced from

biogas at a very competitive cost compared to other green methanol produced from nonfossil fuels.” The main feature in the demonstration plant is Topsoe’s eSMR technology, which enables not only the production of sustainable methanol, but also other sustainable products such as green hydrogen, green ammonia, eFuels, and more. The eSMR technology produces synthesis gas (syngas), an essential building block in the production of polymers (plastics) and chemicals. The eSMR technology is CO2-neutral when based on biogas as feedstock and green electricity for heating. The technology even utilises half the CO2 that makes up about 40% of biogas and typically is costly to separate and vent in the production of grid quality biogas. Methanol is used as a clean fuel or an important intermediary in the production of various fuels, chemicals and polymers. The demonstration programme is part of Topsoe’s ambition to take part in the global movement to reduce the global carbon footprint and one of many initiatives to develop solutions for sustainable aviation, shipping and heavy transportation in general. Visit:

Plastic Waste-To-Hydrogen Technology Greenlit For Trial by Ash Jones


lastic waste could soon be converted to energy and powering towns, according to a new deal Polish energy company Hydrogen Utopia International (HUI) and German chemicals company Linde have signed with Powerhouse Energy. The project, which is currently in the feasibility stage, involves converting plastic, end-of-life tyres and other forms of chemical waste into green hydrogen using technology that both companies have been greenlit to deploy at various locations across Europe. The joint venture has currently secured access to the technology at plants in Greece, Poland and Hungary. Rollout in these areas is expected following the feasibility stage, subject to whatever agreements HUI is able to secure. The main focal point of the feasibility study will be a preliminary plant set up in Konin in Central Poland where it will be tested. Powerhouse claims its Distributed Modular Generation technology - a form of chemicals recycling - is to convert 40 tonnes of plastic waste into 58 MWh of renewable electricity and clean hydrogen per day. If successful, the hydrogen created at this plant will be used as fuel for local buses and other heavy-duty vehicles, such as vans and trucks and is designed to be low-cost. It could also be used in future central heating systems for the homes of Konin, thanks to an aspect of the technology that allows for integration with central heating systems, according to a company statement.

When completed, the project will lead to 10 DMG units being placed at a single location. Hydrogen is considered to be essential in the transition away from fossil fuels, owing to it being relatively cheap to produce, its versatility and its ability to use existing oil & gas infrastructure for transportation. Many proponents of the technology say it is also preferable to electrification for heavy-duty and long-haul transportation. Poland is also looking to increase its hydrogen sector, among other sectors such as nuclear, as it seeks to transition away from coal, which is becoming increasingly uncompetitive. Over the course of 2019, the city of Konin prepared a new energy transition strategy for the city, which includes both waste-to-energy initiatives as well as using hydrogen as a fuel for local transport and municipal companies. The city is currently engaged, together with other relevant regional stakeholders in preparing the territorial just transition plan for the Eastern Wielkopolska region. “In the case of DMG deployment in Poland, Linde’s efficiency will speed up decarbonising my country,” HUI CEO Aleksandra Binkowska said in a statement. “Thanks to our Powerhouse Energy DMG technology, we also aim to offer a valid solution to a massive plastic waste issue which we are facing at the moment in Poland,” she added. Visit: Industry Europe 21

SUPPLIER OF INNOVATIVE CABLE AND WIRE SOLUTIONS Coroflex Poland is part of the Coroplast Group, a family-owned company with its headquarters in Germany. Coroflex is a leading global manufacturer of cables and wires for industrial and automotive applications.

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oroflex Poland is based in Strzelce Opolskie , producing industrial wires and cables. - Coroplast Group was founded in the 1920s in Wuppertal, filling a market gap by providing innovative cables and wires for the local industry. Over time, the company has expanded its production towards high-tech tapes, which were first used to insulate the manufactured cables. Furthermore, Coroplast also specialized in manufacturing wire harnesses. Coroplast Group is not only active in Germany, but it is also present in other countries. Employing approximately 7,000 people, it has local branches in Poland, China, Tunisia, Moldova, Mexico and the USA. In 1994, Coroplast Group first ventured abroad and founded the subsidiary Coroplast sp. z o.o in Dylaki, Poland. With the opening of the second facility in Krapkowice in 1998, as well as the third facility in Strzelce Opolskie in 2014, Coroplast clearly expanded its presence in Poland’s market. Today the site in Strzelce Opolskie is Coroflex main Polish location and operates under the name of Coroflex Poland. Coroflex, as a subsidiary brand of the Coroplast Group, develops and manufactures innovative cable and wiring solutions primarily for customers that come from the automotive sector, mechanical and plant engineering, automation technology, and the electrical industry. As part of the automotive supply chain and supplier for a wide range of industries, Coroflex is actively shaping the developments within the sector to maintain its position as a powerful and flexible technology leader. The company’s in-house material development and processing lab puts its trust in thermoplastic and elastomer solutions (such as PE, PP, TPU, TPE, TPO, TPS, ETFE, FEP, PFA, SiR or EPDM). Coroflex

uses more than 100 different insulation and sheathing materials to provide its customers with smart cable and wiring solutions. The company cooperates internationally with many renowned companies from the automotive industry, automation technology or the manufacture of electrical appliances. A good cooperation also connects it with its sister business units Coroplast Tape and WeWire.

Dariusz Praga, MBA Head of Business Unit Wires & Cables / Managing Director Coroflex Poland

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The secret of success Even though the market has ample competition and is constantly undergoing changes, Coroflex is able to react quickly and flexibly to the needs of the markets and can adapt to its conditions due to a lean organization. According to the company, its success is based on its commitment to high quality and its great innovative power. In case of Coroflex the quality begins with the first talk to a customer and continues throughout the entire production and service chain from material to processing and all the way to service. When choosing the raw material, the company focuses primarily on the appropriate selection of suppliers. Each of them must be characterized by delivery reliability, impeccable quality flexibility in responding to changing demand, support in optimizing logistics costs and competitive offers. Innovation power is the second important pillar of the company’s success. Coroflex prides itself on having a wide range of research, development, and the high speed of its innovations. The special thing about Coroflex is that it develops and tests its insulation and sheathing materials by itself. This way, its engineers can implement an idea immediately in the technical center and test the result in the company’s test laboratories. Coroflex provides its business partners with unique and modern technologies as well as innovative solutions that meet the highest quality requirements. By constantly striving to optimize processes based on a lean organization, the company supports its business partners in their development, allowing them to achieve a competitive advantage. The most important thing for Coroflex is its development and adaptation to the changing needs of the market. The company’s team is its greatest asset and strength, and therefore the develop-

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ment, both in Poland and in Coroplast as a whole group, would not be possible without the enormous commitment and professionalism of the employees. Poland is an important production site for Coroflex. In recent months the investments in machinery were an important aspect of the company’s development. These investments increase Coroflex’s flexibility and versatility. The expansion of its machine park enables the company to introduce new products, optimizes its processes as well as increases its capacity and flexibility. Environmental protection is another very important aspect of the company’s business policy, which is why it is currently working on the regranulation of waste, which will be an important step towards a sustainable production. For its efforts and success, Coroflex Poland was awarded the “ Business Gazelles “ prize in 2020 and received the European Business Award for the best German Business of 2019 at a gala in Warsaw.

Strategy for the future The Coroflex’s development strategy for the coming years is based on expanding the range of products in the automotive and industry sectors. The company sees great opportunities in electromobility in general, as well as digitalization and automation, which is increasingly relevant for all sectors. Its goal is it to offer not only universal solutions but also those that are dedicated to specific applications and customers. Coroflex declares it does everything it can to continue to develop innovative solutions and pursue the company’s goal of n improving sustainability. For more information, visit:


Bepolplast, a family-owned company from Zarnowiec, is Poland’s leading producer of technical plastic components and injection moulds.


epolplast has been operating on the market for more than 30 years. Since the beginning of its activity, it has specialized in the production of high quality, precise products made of standard and composite thermoplastics. The products are manufactured by injection moulding, based on individual requirements of business clients, using injection moulds made in our tool shop. 26 Industry Europe

Bepolplast products have gained recognition from executives at automotive component firms as well as from leading furniture makers. For many years it has systematically entered into long-term contracts and has been increasing exports. While it does offers products made in bulk, the company is in line with the market trends showing the need for small, unique batches, thus Bepolplast manufactures also limited-edition series.


The company’s logistics system works according to the seven Rs, which the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport UK defines as: getting the Right product, in the Right quantity, in the Right condition, at the Right place, at the Right time, to the Right customer, at the Right price.

Experienced staff and innovative technologies According to the company’s management, the company’s staff are the key to Bepolplast’s success; their qualifications, their commitment and their professional experience. Many employees have been working in the company for 15 years and more. The strong and direct involvement of Bepolplast’s business partners also plays a strong role. Constant investments in innovative technologies, helped with significant funding from the European Regional Development Fund, has also helped the company become more successful. Bepolplast can pride itself on its R&D department that has precise measuring tools, including the industrial measuring microscope, a device for measuring roughness, devices for strength tests and other measuring tools. Through the implementation of innovative technologies, the company has been able to expand its offering and make it possible to remain competitive on the plastics processing and tooling market, as well as attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.

Scope of the offer Bepolplast is a producer of suspension elements for the automotive industry as well as furniture elements, masking elements and closing metal profiles and other technical fittings of a high quality with a full tool service. Its products prove to be useful everywhere that it can be found big pressure, aggressive influence of the environment, adverse physical movement conditions or close proximity and contact with foodstuffs. The company it processes high-tech thermoplastics, composite and standard plastics and makes two-material elements using the overmoulding technology. Since there is a visible increase in interest in bi-material, they are made using 2K technology - injection moulding in one process. Most of Bepolplast’s products are sold directly to on the Polish market, though they are also found in more complex products exported all over the world. These are often elements with complex geometry, parts for adjustment mechanisms with the need to maintain high dimensional accuracy. In the field of furniture and lighting, fittings manufactured by Bepolplast are installed in exported luxury products, where the quality requirements are high. The company’s offer also includes tool design and fabrication (injection moulds, forging dies, blanking dies) on the basis of pictures, lump models , patterns of the small part or specific structural and functional Industry Europe 27

Mold and die solutions

assumptions. Bepolplast covers the full production process, from the idea stage to the finished product. Each injection mould, before being delivered to a customer, is tested.

Towards the future PROPLASTICA is one of the leading companies in the industry in Europe and our products are distributed also to other continents. Our wide offer includes: • mold components: ejectors, guide pins and bushes, locating rings, locks, sliders, counters, cooling accessories, date stamps and marking inserts, insulating plates, ISO springs and mold plates. • die components: guide pins and bushes, punches and dies, gas springs, lifting components and die sets. Our strength is special machining services, such as: CNC torch cutting, grinding and precise surface milling, comprehensive machining on CNC milling machines up to 4 axes, drilling deep holes and machining of round elements - turning, shaft grinding, honing, hot forging. A large selection of materials used which are subject to a complete and controlled stress relieving process. The company is focused on meeting customer requirements and maintaining high quality products and services. It has a certified quality management system according to ISO 9001: 2015 and operates in accordance with its requirements.

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Bepolplast’s latest offer includes plastic products, injection moulds and metal elements with the surface texture made according to the client’s needs by the laser ablation method. Current and potential clients have been diagnosed with need to functionalise surface and so focused on a method of modification that did not change the chemical composition, add an additional layer made of another material, or require the use of chemicals. In other words, when most companies moved towards additive manufacturing, Bepolplast went in the opposite direction, implementing new subtractive technolo-


gies. Co-financing by the European Union from the ERDF made it possible to build a facility and to purchase the equipment to implement laser ablation technology, enabling further innovation and expanding its range of products and services. Surface properties must be controlled and modified to meet the high technical requirements in various sectors. In addition to the enormous design possibilities, surface modification allows to provide products with dedicated functionalities such as friction adjustment, lubrication intensification lubrication, intensification of heat transfer, stimulation of microflows, increase of chemical activity, reduction of adhesion forces between the material used and the die socket surface, etc. Preliminary results of the ability to obtain textured surfaces on metal are shown in the attached images. We are currently in the process of making injection moulds with a textured surface. We will then move on to injection moulding of various plastics including wood filled plastics. Bepolpalst operates in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. It will continue the current development strategy consisting of the implementation of innovative technologies enabling the achievement of ever higher quality and precision of plastic elements intended for technical applications, with high functional and aesthetic values, also by modifying the surface. Moreover, it is to develop the processing of ecological plastics . The company strongly emphasises that it fully accepts the trend aimed at eliminating single-use plastics from the consumer market, since it has never made such products. In terms of management methods, it benefits from a diversity of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Therefore its strategy is for further diversity in its workforce and to deepen cooperation between in various roles, regardless of political views, religious beliefs or race. The next necessary step is to implement, deepen and extend the elements of World Class Manufacturing, an integrated management system, the basic assumptions, of which are the absence of losses, n failures, defects and accidents. Industry Europe 29


New developments in the Construction & Engineering

New Trimble Tech Can Provide "On The Spot" Site Analysis by Ash Jones


S tech company Trimble has integrated a laser scanner and 3D capture software to Boston Dynamics' robot dog Spot as part of an ongoing collaboration. Spot, which was developed jointly by both companies, has been specially designed to survey construction sites by using its unique kit to deal with any challenging or potentially unsafe working environments and relaying this information back to site owners. Trimble's 3D capture technology enables a continuous flow of information between the field and the office for consistent, ongoing documentation of jobsite progress. The robot harnesses artificial intelligence to process data and draws up progress reports and provides analysis of site conditions and areas of improvement. It can carry up to 14kg of equipment and is remote-controlled via a tablet.

The X7 laser scanner has been fully integrated into Spot's control software, which allows for the controller to mark waypoints to follow and collect scans, which can be scheduled to run regularly for efficient onsite management. The FieldLink software displays a 3D render of the site onto the tablet's surface, allowing users to analyse problems in real-time. "Users don't have to figure out the integration of the scanner", said Thai Nguyen, director of Virtual Design and Construction, at Hensel Phelps, one of the venture's key clients, revealing the technology can help save days of time performing and relaying analysis to project staff. "This allows us to make the best decisions as quickly as possible with the best information", he added. "Our construction customers require turnkey solutions for autonomous jobsite documentation and analysis. Boston Dynamics' strategic alliance with Trimble has allowed us to build that solution collaboratively by combining our strengths in robotics and construction, respectively," said Brian Ringley, construction product manager at Boston Dynamics. "This unique integration is simply unprecedented—it's never been easier to scan a

jobsite, and the increased scanning frequency is creating new opportunities in automated project analysis and insight", he added. Spot has already been rolled out to several key customers within the sector. Aside from Hensel Phelps, other customers include General Contractors, Woodside, National Grid, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. The robot is currently sold by Boston Dynamics for $74,500 (€64,000) and comes ready for operation straight out of the box. As of now, it is available in two packages: the explorer package, which offers basic support; and the as-yet-unreleased enterprise package, which will come fully equipped with data analysis software, increased WiFi range and self-charging. Visit:

New ABB Partnership To Help Tackle Egypt's Water Shortages by Ash Jones


wiss engineering company ABB has partnered with the world's largest wastewater treatment plant, the Bahr El Bakar facility located on the Sinai peninsula in Egypt, to help the country overcome water scarcity issues. The record-breaking plant will help deliver over 5.6 million cubic metres of treated water per day - equivalent to roughly 2,000 Olympic swimming pools - which could help revitalise over 140,000 hectares of farmland east of the Suez Canal. Started as a joint venture between The Arab Contractors and Orascom, the plant is considered a vital step in helping to alleviate the country's water shortages. Several factors, from insufficient irrigation techniques to population growth and adverse effects from climate change have led to water shortages in Egypt in recent years. The country is currently facing a water deficit of 7 billion cubic metres annually and is becoming more and more dependent on the Nile river for its agricultural sector and water scarcity poses real risks to the population not having access to clean drinking water. The scheme is also working alongside various government programmes to "improve the environment", create new jobs and help actively tackle its drinking water issue. The schemes will also look to improve on existing infrastructure to expand on cultivation, particularly on the Sinai peninsula. 30 Industry Europe

“Providing resilient, energy-efficient, and cost-effective technology to [the El Bakar] plant will help meet the needs of population growth and the changing landscape of this remote area in Egypt", according to Loay Dajani, the managing director of ABB's Egyptian arm. "It is an honour for ABB to provide a full package of products and solutions to this project, which will help better manage natural resources, raise efficiency, and upscale a limited water supply for agriculture. ABB will also be providing a gateway for the project to make use of increased automation and electrification to make it more renewable across the value chain. The firm's input will also allow for the facility to create its own microgrid to support infrastructure development and operations at the plant, including the installing of new technologies to ensure the plant can handle the large quantities of water treatment needed to tackle Egypt's issues. The project's director, Ehab Girgis, described it as "one of the key strategic pillars" supporting national efforts to aid in the Bahr El Bakar facility, which is considered a vital part of plans to develop the Sinai peninsula into arable and viable farmland. "Working together with ABB on this contract will help realize an important milestone of the plans for this region and expand the cultivated areas in Sinai, providing local food security for citizens, and better manage water resources for agricultural and industrial projects,” he added. For more information, visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS Sandvik Makes String Of Acquisitions In Summer Shopping Spree by Romana Moares, Steven Gislam


wedish engineering group Sandvik has embarked on a series of acquisitions throughout the past two months in a push to further expand the group's reach. Last month, the group signed an agreement to acquire Oregon-based DWFritz Automation, a company specialising in precision metrology, inspection and assembly equipment for advanced manufacturing. The company designs, builds, and supports engineer-to-order high-speed, noncontact metrology solutions and automation systems. "By acquiring DWFritz Automation we will be able to expand our metrology and automation offering further. This will not only strengthen our position, but will also enable us to offer full metrology solutions to our customers – which will reduce cost and improve quality significantly in their broader value chain," said Kim Hansen, President of the Metrology division in Sandvik Manufacturing Solutions. In mid-July, Sandvik announced it would acquire Polish round tools manufacturer Fanar. The company will be part of Seco, a division within Sandvik's Manufacturing and Machining Solutions division. “We continue to execute on our growth strategy and this acquisition is an additional step to strengthen our round tools offering,” said Stefan Widing, President and CEO of Sandvik. Fanar, established in 1966, is headquartered outside Warsaw and has 230 employees. In 2020, Fanar achieved revenues of about SEK 175 million (€17.1 million). The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2021 and is still subject to regulatory approvals.

In August, Sandvik signed an agreement to acquire US-based CNC Software, a provider of CAD/CAM software solutions for manufacturing industries and the company behind Mastercam, the most widely used Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) brand in the industry. Also in August, Sandvik signed and completed three agreements to acquire the shares held by DSI Joint Venture partner, Jennmar, in underground mining supply company Rocbolt Technologies businesses in China, South Africa and Mongolia. Jennmar will continue to be a JV partner in Australia. Last but not least, the company has completed the previously announced acquisition of 67% of China-based Chuzhou Yongpu Carbide Tools Co., Ltd, a solid round tools company, with a call option to buy the remaining part in three years’ time. Following the recent developments, Sandvik has updated its revenue target for its Manufacturing Solutions arm for 2025 from SEK 4 billion (€390 million) to SEK 6 billion (€587 billion) With the recently announced acquisitions, Sandvik says that it will establish a platform that, combined with the organic growth of the current business, is expected to exceed the earlier revenue objectives. “I am very pleased that we have managed to accelerate the M&A activities in Sandvik Manufacturing Solutions which means that we can update our target less than a year after it was set. With this solid platform, we have a completely different outset in executing on the organic growth ambition in the quest of improving our customers’ productivity within the manufacturing industry which is becoming more digital and connected,” said Widing. Visit:

Hanson Trial Provides Glimpse Into Net-Zero Cement by Ash Jones


anson UK, a subsidiary of HeidelbergCement, has successfully completed a trial involving a cement kiln powered using hydrogen, which could provide a glimpse into fully net-zero cement production. The project, which has government backing, took place at the company's Ribblesdale plant in Lancashire, and may yet show that cement production, which is quite energy-intensive, could be completed using renewable energy. Cement production currently accounts for around 7% of global carbon emissions, and it is considered a critical industry for decarbonisation, usually through sequestering technology. During the demonstration - the culmination of several years of work - the proportion of the kilns burner's energy mix was gradually increased until it was made up entirely of net-zero fuels. The mix consisted of tanker-delivered hydrogen as well as bone meal and glycerine, the company claims.

“The trial demonstrated the pathway to moving away from using fossil fuels in cement and concrete production,” said Hanson UK's sustainability manager Ian Walpole. If fully implemented into the whole kiln system, the Ribblesdale plant alone could save "nearly 180,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide" from entering the atmosphere a year, he added, claiming the company were already "the largest producer of low-carbon concrete in the UK". "The prospect of using hydrogen in the fuel mix at our cement plants will help us meet our ambition of supplying net-zero carbon concrete by 2050", he concluded. The trial received £3.2 million (€3.7 million) in funding from the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and was provided through the Mineral Products Association. It followed a 2019 feasibility study conducted by the business department which demonstrated that a combination of biomass, hydrogen and plasma energy could be used to eliminate 100 per cent of fossil fuel CO2 emissions from cement manufacturing.

There are plans to share the results of the trial worldwide in order to speed up the decarbonisation of the sector. However, according to reports by the EU, decarbonising the fuel for cement only removes around 40% of the emissions. Speaking at this year's EU Industry Days event back in February, Donal O'Riain, the managing director of a low-carbon cement developer Ecocem warned significant innovations would be required in order to fully remove emissions from cement production. "We have to change the technology around creating cement and look at things like using it more efficiently", he added. However, this appears to be an issue Hanson is aware of, as, according to their website, they have modified their cement formula to have "a much lower level of embodied carbon dioxide" than regular Portland cement. It also increases durability to sulfates that occur naturally in the ground, decreasing the likelihood that the concrete will crack or warp, increasing sustainability along the value chain by ensuring the final product has to be replaced or relaid. Visit: Industry Europe 31


New developments in the Consumer Goods

Brussels Proposes Mandatory USB-C Chargers For All Smart Devices by Steven Gislam


he European Commission has unveiled plans to establish a universal charger for smartphones and other electronic devices in a bid to reduce e-waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers. The Commission proposal states that all phones and electronic devices sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers, something that has already been adopted by most manufacturers. The notable exception to this is Apple, which warned the move would harm innovation and ultimately hurt consumers. The tech giant's iPhone is powered by a unique, Apple-made "Lightning" connector, though its newer models come with charging cables that can be plugged into a USB-C socket. "We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world," Apple told the BBC. The proposed rules would apply to the charging port on the device and will apply to smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers

and handheld games consoles. Other products such as fitness trackers, smart-watches and earbuds were not considered for technical reasons connected with size and use conditions. The proposal also calls for fast-charging speeds to be made standard, meaning that devices capable of fast charging will charge at the same rapid rate, and for consumers to have the right to choose whether to purchase new devices with or without a charger. The Commission's push comes after more than a decade of trying to persuade the industry to adopt a common standard in a bid to cut back on the 11,000 tonnes of electronic waste generated in the bloc every year. According to the Commission, its research found that the average EU household owns at least three chargers, with two being used regularly. It also found that 38% of people reported having not been able to charge their phone due to not finding a compatible charger. Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: "Chargers power all our most essential electronic devices. With more and more devices,

EU's New Energy Labels For Lighting Come Into Force by Steven Gislam


ue to vast improvements to the energy efficiency of lightbulbs and other lighting products on the market in recent years, a new version of the EU energy label has come into force. The changes come in the wake of energy label changes for four other categories of electrical appliances that have been benefitting from the new energy label since 1 March this year: fridges, freezers, washing machines, ovens, and TV sets. The biggest change is the removal of the A+, A++ and A+++ classes, which have appeared more and more frequently on the energy label recently, largely as a result of these improvements to efficiency. The label will revert to the popular A-G scale, as suggested by consumer groups. Most appliances were grouped in the '+' classes, thus leaving lower classes empty and making the label meaningless. The stricter measurement method means that a lamp previously ranking A++ may be downgraded to D for example, as found by Belgian consumer group Test Achats. This does not mean the lamp has become less efficient. The new ranking simply reflects the present state-of-the-art and leaves room for future innovative products to populate the A-class. The change was welcomed by the European Consumer Organisation BEUC. "Shoppers get much clearer information on the energy performance of dishwashers, ovens, fridges, and TV screens - and now lamps," said Monique Goyens, Director General of BEUC: "At a time when more 32 Industry Europe

more and more chargers are sold that are not interchangeable or not necessary. We are putting an end to that. With our proposal, European consumers will be able to use a single charger for all their portable electronics – an important step to increase convenience and reduce waste." "If Apple wants to continue to have their own plug, they will have the ability to do it. It’s not against innovation, it’s just to make the lives of our fellow citizens a little bit more easy," If the proposals are accepted by the European Parliament, then companies will then have two years to adapt. While they would only pertain to the 30 EU member states it could, much like the bloc's strict privacy regulations, could become the de facto world standard.

environmentally friendly consumption is growing on many minds, this is excellent news. We're looking forward to 2025 when the old energy label will be history." EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: "Our lamps and other lighting products have become so much more efficient in the recent years that more than half of LEDs are now in the A++ class. Updating the labels will make it easier for consumers to see what are the ‘best in class’ products, which in turn will help them to save energy and money on their bills. Using more energy-efficient lighting will continue to reduce the EU greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.”


INDUSTRYNEWS “An Experimental Powerhouse”: Arla Opens New Innovation Centre by Romana Moares


anish dairy company Arla has opened a new innovation centre for its subsidiary Arla Foods Ingredients (AFI), employing leading international scientists and innovators, and aiming to bridge the gap between sustainable food research and production. AFI specialises in high-quality milk and whey ingredients used to meet the specific needs of children, athletes, patients and consumers. Globally, the specialised ingredients market is a €10 billion business, and it is expected to grow at a high pace within the coming years. With the new innovation centre, AFI is able to further tap into this growth by intensifying its innovation efforts and taking its business to the next level both within its core markets in Europe, China and the Americas - and beyond.

Based in Nr. Vium in Denmark and with a total size of 9,000 square metres, the new Innovation Centre will be home to up to 100 scientists and technicians, who will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including laboratories for clinical trials and a pilot plant and office spaces. Here, they will cover all aspects of research and development within whey and milk – from advanced separation technology to improved functionality and shelf-life. Niels Østergaard, VP Research & Development at Arla Foods Ingredients, says: “Working with our scientific and industry partners, we’ll be able to undertake more research, embark on ambitious new projects, and innovate to tackle some of the world’s most urgent food and nutrition challenges.” The Innovation Centre is located right next to Danmark Protein – AFI’s flagship production plant that produces whey protein concentrate and lactose products, including for infant nutrition. This location is key for success as it closes the gap between innovation and full-scale production. Niels Østergaard says: “It was vital for us for the Innovation Centre to be at the heart of our supply chain. This is the closest to the highest quality raw materials that it could possibly be, enabling us to fine-tune ideas and scale them up in one quick and streamlined process. This is truly living up to our purpose of delivering the wonders of whey.” The Centre is also designed to create synergies between leading university researchers, PhD students and industry professionals. Partners will include academic institutions in Denmark (like the Copenhagen and Aarhus universities) and overseas (including UC Davis), as well as technology suppliers and Arla Foods Ingredients’ customers in the food and nutrition industries. Visit:

Nestlé To Promote Regenerative Food System by Romana Moares


wiss-based food and drink giant Nestlé has said it is aiming to accelerate the transition to a regenerative food system that aims to protect and restore the environment and enhance the well-being of farming communities. Nestlé will work with its food system partners, including the company's network of more than 500,000 farmers and 150,000 suppliers, to advance regenerative farming practices at the heart of the food system. As part of this journey, the company will also initiate new programmes to help address the social and economic challenges of the transition. "We know that regenerative agriculture plays a critical role in improving soil health, restoring water cycles and increasing biodiversity for the long term," said Paul Bulcke, Chairman of Nestlé. "These outcomes form the foundation of sustainable food production and, crucially, also contribute to achieving our ambitious climate targets."

Nestlé is a signatory of the UN Business Ambition for 1.5°C pledge and was one of the first companies to share its detailed, time-bound climate plan in December 2020. The company is taking measures to halve its emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050. "With our long-standing partnerships with farming communities globally, we want to increase our support for farming practices that are good for the environment and good for people," said Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO. "In the spirit of enabling a just transition, it is vital that we support farmers around the world

that take on the risks and costs associated with the move towards regenerative agriculture." Agriculture accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nestlé's total greenhouse gas emissions, with dairy and livestock making up about half of that. The company will start working with 30 reference dairy farms in 12 countries to test scalable, climate-friendly and regenerative agricultural practices that help achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, Nestlé will implement new living income programmes for farmers in its value chain to make farming more attractive. Later this year, Nestlé will unveil specific plans for its coffee and cocoa supply chains. To support young people who are passionate about farming, the company is launching a new training platform in November to attract and train the next generation of farmers. The training will focus on regenerative agriculture practices and improving the resilience of farms to climate change for more than 40,000 farmers participating in one of Nestlé's agripreneurship programmes. Visit: Industry Europe 33


New developments in the Consumer Goods

Coca-Cola To Pilot 100% Plant-Based Bottle by Ash Jones


oca-Cola is making further forays into sustainability by piloting a new drinks bottle made from 100% plant-based plastics in a bid to help reduce plastic waste. Based on a different prototype, first unveiled in 2015, everything on the bottle, aside from the label and cap, has been made using new plastic technologies that are reportedly ready for commercial use, including the ability to recycle bottle-to-bottle. This comes a little over a decade since the company debuted its “PlantBottle” made from 30% plant-based plastic (bPET). The company has looked to tackle the issue of plastic recycling in the past. In 2020, it revealed it would be eliminating virgin-oil plastics from production at various European plants as part of a wider goal of removing them from their entire production in Japan and Europe. Back in 2019, it also revealed a partnership with Ioniqa Technologies, Indorama Ventures and Mares Circulares (Circular Seas) to produce bottles made from recovered marine plastic. More than 900 sample prototypes of the new bPET bottle have been manufactured for a trial run. “We have been working with technology partners for many years to develop the right technologies to create a bottle with 100% plant-based content—

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aiming for the lowest possible carbon footprint— and it’s exciting that we have reached a point where these technologies exist and can be scaled by participants in the value chain,” said Nancy Quan, Chief Technical and Innovation Officer at Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is currently one of the world’s most famous consumer goods brands, and has long been associated with plastic pollution. The company was ranked the world’s top plastic polluter three years’ running in 2020. Reports in May hinted only around 20 companies - a mix of both state-owned and private firms - contribute to more than 55% of all plastic waste globally. PET is currently the world’s most recycled plastic and consists of two molecules:

Image: The Coca-Cola Company

monoethylene glycol (MEG) and 70% terephthalic acid (PTA). The PTA in the company’s original PlantBottle was, like most single-use plastics, sourced from fossil fuels. Instead, through a partnership with US-based chemicals company Virent, Coca-Cola will be creating a sustainable form of PTA from plant-based paraxylene - itself made from sugar derived from corn. The second major breakthrough for the firm allows for flexibility in its feedstock, increasing the types of renewable materials that can be used in bottle production. The process is also made simpler by removing the need for a source of bioethanol as an intermediate. “Our goal is to develop sustainable solutions for the entire industry”, said Dana Breed, the Global R&D Director for Packaging and Sustainability at Coca-Cola. “We want other companies to join us and move forward, collectively”. “We don’t see renewable or recycled content as areas where we want a competitive advantage”, she added. Since unveiling the original PlantBottle, the company has also allowed other consumer goods companies, such as Heinz, to use the technology developed in their own brands. In 2018, the PlantBottle IP was made more open in a bid to drive down pricing. All of this comes as part of Coca-Cola’s goals to collect back equivalent plastic waste for every bottle it sells by 2030 alongside schemes to make its drinks bottles 100% recyclable. Investment in new recycling technologies also forms a goal of having its bottles produced from 50% recycled plastic waste within the same time frame. It has also pledged to reduce virgin plastic use by 20% by 2025. “We are taking significant steps to reduce use of ‘virgin’, oil-based plastic, as we work toward a circular economy and in support of a shared ambition of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” Quan added. “We see plant-based plastics as playing a critical role in our overall PET mix in the future, supporting our objectives to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce our reliance on ‘virgin’ fossil fuels and boost collection of PET in support of a circular economy.” Visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS SalMar Acquires 45% Stake In Refsnes Laks


alMar, the Norwegian fish farm company and one of the world’s largest producers of farmed salmon, is to acquire 45% ownership in family-owned Refsnes Laks. Refsnes Laks AS, a family-owned company building on wide-ranging experience in sustainable fish farming, currently has four licenses for the production of Atlantic salmon and a timelimited viewing license in Central Norway.

SalMar is one of the world’s largest and most efficient producers of farmed salmon, pursuing its farming activity along the coast of Norway from Møre og Romsdal in the south to Troms og Finnmark in the north. The company aims to safeguard the seas, while maximising its salmon production, by contributing to the development of new technology to continue to reduce its biological footprint.

Brioche Pasquier To Extend Its UK Factory


rench bakers Brioche Pasquier has announced the start of a major extension to its factory in Milton Keynes with a view to expanding its offering to UK consumers. The current factory is home to two lines of brioche rolls - plain & choc chip - with a new snack brioche line due to be operational in early 2022.

To this end, the company has developed, along with its partners within aquaculture, offshore and relevant research, the world’s first ocean-based farming facilities, The Ocean Farm 1 pilot project has introduced a new and innovative technology that will benefit the entire industry. Offshore fish farming moves salmon to their natural habitat, which allows for farming at the terms of the salmon to a greater degree than is possible today. Chairman of the board of Refsnes Laks, Ivar Refsnes emphasised that for many years a close and value-creating collaboration has been developed between SalMar and Refsnes. This applies to production, processing and sales in an international market. SalMar’s acquisition of a significant ownership interest in the company is a natural continuation of this collaboration, he said. The transaction gives SalMar further sustainable growth in the immediate vicinity of existing fish farming areas in Central Norway and it will be a good industrial solution that ensures significant synergies and further development of existing activity and operational competence. The completion of the transaction is conditional upon that the Norwegian Competition Authorities does not intervene against the transaction. Visit:

The firm stated that the extension will allow the addition of two more lines over the next few years and enable the local production of even more products for the UK consumer. This is good news given the UK food sector has been hit by trade challenges and staff shortages in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic. Brioche Pasquier came to the UK in 2001 with its first factory in the country built 14 years later. “We have always wanted to provide our consumers with a fresh, quality product, which is why we originally decided to establish a bakery in the UK. Now we can extend the range of products which have been freshly baked in this country and transport them straight to market without delay,” said Ryan Peters, Industrial Director UK. “We are extremely excited to have started the work on phase two of our factory building programme which will provide jobs for around 130 people from the local community. The new lines, when built, will allow us to bake over 2.5 million of our various products every day.” Brioche Pasquier, a French family bakery established in 1936, specialises in traditional French bakery products. The company started its international expansion 10 years ago and now is present in 35 countries. This is in line with the company’s philosophy to be close to its consumers, and to understand the different cultures and the market, rather than being an exporter of its products. Visit: Industry Europe 35


New developments in Energy & Utilities

The Colours Of The Hydrogen Rainbow Your guide to the hydrogen kaleidoscope by Ash Jones


ydrogen is widely touted as an essential feature of the energy transition and the road to net-zero as governments and businesses look to shift away from traditional fossil fuels and scramble to cut carbon emissions.

However, not all fuels are made equal. Despite the gas itself being colourless, a number of types of hydrogen, colour-coded by industry over the years, could lead to confusion for those not in the know. This guide will help readers distinguish between the various forms of hydrogen, their uses, and their role in the road to reducing emissions. 36 Industry Europe

In its raw form, hydrogen is sometimes referred to in the industry as “white hydrogen”. This is hydrogen as it naturally occurs. Hydrogen, alongside helium, is currently one of the most readily available elements in the universe. The gas makes up 75% of the mass of the known universe and is currently theorised to have been created during the Big Bang. However, no real methods currently exist to utilise white hydrogen, so the gas must be sequestered or otherwise generated through different means. The primary form of hydrogen in use today is called “grey hydrogen”, which is currently

the most common form used in industry. Grey hydrogen refers to hydrogen that is generated with the use of natural gas, methane, or through a process known as “steam reforming” and involves no carbon capture. More than 70 million metric tonnes of grey hydrogen are produced globally every year, which offers room for a switch to more renewable generation and is a burgeoning market ripe for innovation. In the processes for these types of generation, the greenhouse gases used in the production of grey hydrogen production are not captured and leak into the atmosphere, which only adds to current


INDUSTRYNEWS greenhouse gas emissions. There are currently a number of initiatives to slowly phase out the use of grey hydrogen and replace it with its more environmentally friendly forms. However, despite its various downsides, grey hydrogen still generates fewer emissions than those produced by “black hydrogen” or “brown hydrogen”, which, as their names suggest, is hydrogen generated through the burning of fossil fuels, mainly lignite (brown) or coal (black). Both black and brown hydrogen are highly polluting and result in not only high carbon dioxide emissions, but can also release carbon monoxide - an odourless, tasteless, yet toxic greenhouse gas that can kill in high dosages. Should the greenhouse gases - primarily carbon - used in the production of grey hydrogen be captured or otherwise sequestered, then the resulting product is known as “blue hydrogen”. Blue hydrogen is mainly generated through the process of steam reforming mentioned earlier. Blue hydrogen is often referred to as “low-carbon hydrogen” - a reference to the fact it produces far fewer emissions than the other types of hydrogen generated through fossil fuels. However, there have been warnings in academia that the use of blue hydrogen may be more polluting than burning coal or natural gas, with other concerns being raised that 10-20% of emissions from blue hydrogen cannot be sequestered. The gases released by blue hydrogen generation are captured using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology and usually stored deep underground. When people refer to hydrogen as the “fuel of the future”, it is likely they are referring to “green hydrogen”. Simply put, this refers to hydrogen generated through renewable energy - primarily electrolysis powered by wind energy or solar power - where no greenhouse gases are emitted. Green hydrogen is currently considered essential in the energy transition owing to its extreme versatility. There are also rumours it may be able to use existing fossil fuel infrastructure, which could help governments cut costs in the switch. However, green hydrogen is currently three times more expensive than natural gas in the US, with similar concerns raised in other parts of the world. More astonishingly, the only by-product of green hydrogen generated through electrolysis

is water vapour, which means there is little environmental risk associated with its generation. Green hydrogen has as many applications as grey hydrogen for industrial use, from steelmaking, to use in hydrogen fuel cells for the automotive sector or to helping decarbonise cement. While the term “green hydrogen” is quite broad and generally refers to any zero-emission hydrogen generated through electrolysis, when hydrogen is primarily generated through solar energy, it may be referred to as “yellow hydrogen” - though this is a far less common term. However, electrolysis does not need to rely on just wind or solar energy to generate hydrogen. A newer term, known as “pink hydrogen” refers to any hydrogen generated through electrolysis powered by nuclear energy. France’s EDF Energy is currently planning to produce pink hydrogen at the controversial Sizewell C plant in Suffolk, England, which has seen backlash from environmental activists. In addition to this, the high temperatures used in the generation of pink hydrogen could be used in steam reforming, leading to slightly lower emissions in the production of blue and grey hydrogen. A more novel form of hydrogen production that sits between blue and green is known as “turquoise hydrogen”. A newer term, it is often

being touted as a lower-carbon form of blue hydrogen while mitigating the higher costs associated with green hydrogen production. It is generated through a process known as “methane pyrolysis”. Like blue hydrogen, it still uses methane as feedstock, but the heat used in the process is generated through electricity - usually renewably sourced electricity - rather than from the burning of fossil fuels. Like most of the methods referenced, a byproduct of turquoise hydrogen is carbon. However, the carbon generated through this method often comes out in a solid form, though storage technology is sometimes utilised. As a result of this, carbon capture technology is not necessarily required to stop greenhouse gas emissions, and solid carbon can be used in other applications, such as in the manufacturing of car tyres or batteries. Hydrogen can also be generated through biomass, which may be a good way to get rid of excess waste, like with those seen in schemes to convert plastic waste into hydrogen. It is likely that, as new methods for energy generation develop, new ways of turning that energy into hydrogen will develop, which could open new doors to efficiency and applications for the most abundant element in the universe. The push for net-zero will likely ensure these methods become more and more sustainable. n

Blue hydrogen. Credit: Alexander Limbach / Shutterstock

Industry Europe 37


New developments in Energy & Utilities

Vinci And Partners Launch Green Hydrogen Fund by Ash Jones


rench construction company Vinci, alongside partners TotalEnergies and Air Liquide, has launched a huge investment fund to look into the development of green hydrogen. With plans to pool around €1.5 billion in funds across various major businesses in the Americas, Europe and Asia, this stands to be one of the largest single renewable hydrogen pushes in industry. The fund has already generated €800 million which could help the partners launch largescale hydrogen plants to help invest in the entire green hydrogen value chain. Each company has pledged €100 million towards the project and it is currently working alongside other industrial players, such as Baker Hughes, Lotte Chemical, Axa and EDF Energy. Vinci's involvement likely comes as part of its plans to actively reduce carbon emissions. The company is looking to become completely netzero by 2050 and hoping to reduce emissions by 40% by the end of the decade. The company recently acquired ACS Energy and the 15GW of renewable energy in its portfolio.

The fund is set to be managed by Hy241, a joint venture between Ardian and FiveT. It is expected the scheme will soon begin looking into hydrogen products to invest in. By the end of the project, the estimated portfolio will have a net worth of around €15 billion. "By launching this investment fund today, hand in hand with other major industry leaders, we keep moving forward to make green hydrogen a strong lever in achieving our objectives”, said Vinci boss Xavier Huillard. Benoît Potier, Air Liquide's CEO and chairman, said: "Hydrogen has become a central element of the energy transition. The time to act is now,

not only as companies on a stand-alone basis, but by joining forces with states, other industry groups and the financial community. "With the creation of this fund, we are demonstrating our leadership to participate in a collective dynamic to build momentum. As Air Liquide, we have already committed to invest approximately €8 billion in the low-carbon hydrogen supply chain by 2035. "Our objective is to contribute to the development of the entire value chain from low-carbon hydrogen production to end-uses, investing in the necessary infrastructure with storage and distribution projects. Accelerating on Hydrogen development is key to mitigate climate change.” TotalEnergies' CEO Patrick Pouyanné said green hydrogen will play "a key role in the energy transition" and that his company want to be at the forefront for production. The company has made pledges to phase out grey hydrogen at its European plants by 2030 in a bid to deliver on emissions targets laid out by the EU. "We are convinced that a collective effort is needed to kick-start the hydrogen sector and take it to scale", he concluded. Visit:

Coal Unseats Wind As Germany's Primary Energy Source by Steven Gislam


fficial statistics released earlier this week showed that coal replaced wind power as the primary source of energy in Germany for the first half of 2021, despite efforts to boost the contribution made by renewables. The news comes as Berlin is looking to accelerate its transition away from coal power following years of mounting pressure from climate activ38 Industry Europe

ists over the detrimental impact the country's reliance on the fossil fuel has on the environment. Data released by the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) found that the production of energy from "conventional" sources rose by 20.9% in the first half of this year, compared to the first half of 2020. In total, conventional energy sources — which includes coal, natural gas and nuclear energy — made up 56% of the total electricity pumped into Germany's grid in the first six months of 2021. With more than 27% of Germany's energy sources, coal was the clear frontrunner. The contribution made by wind power to the grid dropped sharply when compared with last year from 29% to 22%. Wind was previously the largest source of energy but is now at its lowest level since 2018. The total contribution made by renewable energy sources fell from 52% last year to 44% in 2021. Statistics office officials put the change down to the weather. A lack of wind during the first three months of the year reduced the amount of energy produced by German wind turbines. By comparison, the storms during those months in 2019 and 2020 gave a sharp boost to wind energy production. Germany is aiming to have wind, solar, biogas, and other renewable energy sources play a bigger role, as Berlin looks to phase out nuclear power completely by 2022 and coal-fired power plants by 2038.


INDUSTRYNEWS Chinese Shareholder Could Lose Its Stake In Sizewell C Plant by Ash Jones


he UK is planning to force China General Nuclear (CGN) group to relinquish its 20% stake in the Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk, England. Ministers, who have been discussing the matter for a number of days, expect to sell the stake in the £20 billion plant to other investors as it comes close to cementing the deal. Rumours have been circulating since July over a Chinese players position in the UK's nuclear energy market as a number of Western players look to exclude China-backed companies over security concerns and rising geopolitical tensions. The news, which was originally broken by the Guardian, suggested the UK government could take a stake in the power plant, which it would then co-own alongside France's EDF Energy, which owns an 80% stake. Under the agreement, EDF will be looking to operate a finance model known as a "regulated asset base" in order to fund and build the 3.2GW plant, meaning taxpayers will start paying towards the plant long before it starts generating power. CGN's involvement has been under scrutiny since Huawei's exclusion from UK 5G mobile services following a string of cybersecurity concerns from the US and other allies. Washington has since been leaning on the British government to blacklist the Chinese stakeholder and remove it from its nuclear energy market. Concerns have also been raised over CGN stealing military technology a claim it vehemently denies.

Removing the stakeholder would cause the government to renege on its 2015 agreement with the company, which not only secured funding for both the Sizewell and Hinkley complexes, but also involved the installing of reactors pioneered by CGN at Bradwell B in Essex. The government is hoping to be able to confirm a number of details including CGN's role or whoever will be taking on its minority stake as well as its financing model - before the COP26 summit in November. The Financial Times has reported talks are currently ongoing with EDF regarding the future of the Sizewell C plant. It is likely CGN's funding for Hinkley Point C will also be up for grabs. In March, a consortium of over 200 construction and nuclear firms pledged £4.4 billion in funding for the East of England, with £2 billion being set aside for the county of Suffolk alone, over hope the power plant could ignite investment interest in the region. The consortium hinted 73,000 jobs could be created in the region should Sizewell C be given the go-ahead. Other projects that could be supported by the scheme include a green hydrogen hub in Harwich and a bolstering of the UK's nuclear supply chains with an overhaul to the Port of Felixtowe. However, environmental activists have slammed the project over what they perceive as nuclear energy's slow uptake when the issue of climate change should be tackled by projects that should be handled quickly as well as issues concerned with the disposing of nuclear waste. Some also believe the plant could have a negative impact on local fishing ecosystems.

"Get Serious", Support Energy Transition, Wind Sector Urges Governments by Steven Gislam


he Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) has released its COP26 manifesto at this week's BNEF summit in London, urging governments worldwide to "get serious" about the energy transition and work together with the private sector to accelerate and scale up renewable energy installations. With 93GW installed in 2020, wind energy is one of the world's most rapidly growing energy sources. Despite this, both the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Association have said current growth rates lag behind what is needed to reach the target of net-zero by 2050, and that to do so would require a quadrupling of annual wind energy installations within the next decade. Led by GWEC - the wind sector's main international trade association - more than 90 wind energy players, including supply chain actors, manufacturers, industry bodies and investors, gave their backing to the calls made in the manifesto.

Signatories included some of the biggest names in wind energy such as SiemensGamesa, Iberdrola, Vestas and Equinor. In total, eight specific actions were outlined. These include the increased wind power ambition being reflected in long-term national energy strategies, the rapid phasing out of coal-fired power plants, and the design and implementation of future energy markets. The manifesto also called for the streamlining of permit procedures for renewable energy projects, as well as the initiation of plans for the rapid scaling up of green energy grids and electric vehicle charging points. It also called on governments to "develop cohesive and inclusive policies" for a peoplecentred shift to net-zero, as well as for the alignment of national and regional finance flows which should contain "benchmarks for a netzero, 1.5°C-compliant pathway". GWEC said that wind power alone has helped avoid some 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon

emissions each year and has created over 1.2 million jobs worldwide. Despite this, the trade association said that the sector is in urgent need of "supportive policy frameworks" if it is to accelerate growth quickly. In a press release, GWEC CEO Ben Backwell, said: "This manifesto sets out the meaningful actions that governments need to carry out to realise the energy transition. Governments need to aim higher and deeper – updating their Nationally Determined Contributions to drive real change, cutting red tape and streamlining permitting procedures, and supporting vital investments in infrastructure. "World leaders gathering in Glasgow next month have a chance to get serious about driving the new era of renewable energy, not stifling it," she said. The UN's COP26 climate change conference will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, and will run from October 31 until November 12. Visit: Industry Europe 39


New developments in Healthcare

Evonik Acquires Germany Biotech Company JeNaCell E

vonik, the producer of speciality chemicals active in more than 100 countries, will integrate JeNaCell's portfolio into its Health Care business, expanding its biomaterials offering to provide biotechnologically derived cellulose. JeNaCell began as a spinoff company from the Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena in Germany. In 2017, the company launched its first product epicite, a medical wound dressing for the treatment of chronic wounds, surgical wounds and burns that is based on biotechnologically derived cellulose. It is a skin-friendly and soft biomaterial that provides a healingpromoting microclimate on the wound and can be removed painlessly. Further technologies developed by JeNaCell include soft tissue implants, transdermal delivery systems and dermatological applications. JeNaCell's product developments are complementary to the portfolio of Evonik's Health Care business, a global solutions provider for innovative materials for medical device and pharmaceutical markets. Evonik recognised JeNaCell's potential in 2015 and invested in the start-up through its own venture capital arm. Following the complete takeover, JeNaCell's portfolio will be integrated into Evonik's health care business.

“JeNaCell has developed one of the most innovative biomaterials for medical device technologies. With the help of the creativity and expertise of JeNaCell's specialists, we will ensure that even more patients benefit from these products in the future,” said Thomas Riermeier, head of Evonik’s Health Care business line. “The acquisition will help us to further strengthen our position as an innovation hub for the world’s leading medical technology companies.” “The acquisition by Evonik is a quantum leap for JeNaCell to realise the full potential of our innovative technology,” said Dana Kralisch, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of JeNaCell. “We are excited to have found a strong and trusted partner to develop our technology platform and a new home for our passionate team of experts. Together, we will expand our customer base and explore new application areas.” The acquisition confirms Evonik Venture Capital’s strategy of investing early in start-ups with visionary technology that are relevant to Evonik's innovation growth fields. Visit:

Glaxo's Two Potential Breakthroughs In HIV Treatment by Steven Gislam


IV specialist ViiV Healthcare, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced two potential major breakthroughs in the battle against the virus, highlighting the central role it is likely to occupy in its parent's future. ViiV signed a £35 million (€40.5 million) agreement with Japanese pharma firm Shionogi to develop the successor to GSK's blockbuster drug dolutegravir, currently one of the top-selling HIV drugs in the world. 40 Industry Europe

Under the deal, a Shionogi molecule known as S-365592 will be developed as an HIV treatment that can be administered every three months or more, as opposed to the daily cocktail of pills taken by HIV+ people today. Shionogi is being paid £20 million for the molecule, with another £15 million being paid when certain milestones are met, as well as royalties on net sales. Preclinical studies are already underway and human trials are expected to begin in 2023. In a separate development, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to fasttrack the review process of ViiV's new secondgeneration HIV jab cabotegravir. The drug was already approved in Europe and US for the treatment of HIV patients earlier this year, with a decision on whether it can ve used for pre-exposure due in January. If approved, cabotegravir would be the first, long-acting therapy for the prevention of HIV for those at risk of acquiring the virus. Human trials have shown it was between three and nine times more effective than current medication on the market. The double news comes at an opportune time for GSK, with dolutegravir due to come off patent in 2028. In 2020, the HIV drug made up nearly £5 billion (€5.8 billion) of the pharma group's £34 billion

(€39.3 billion) total sales and is currently used by around half of the world's 30 million HIV patients. Demonstrable progress in research for one of the pharma industry's "holy grails" will provide a muchneeded boost to GSK CEO Emma Walmsley who is under pressure from investors because of her intention to assume leadership at the group's pharma arm "New GSK" when its consumer healthcare arm is spun off into a new company in 2022. ViiV CEO Deborah Waterhouse has the spilt will change nothing, saying: "We will continue to develop innovative HIV medicines and perform strongly for our shareholders." The company offers licences to manufacturers of generic medicines in developing countries to make and distribute the drugs at not-for-profit prices. Speaking on the potential of the Shianogi deal, Kimberly Smith, head of R&D at ViiV, said: "Longer and longer regimens - three months or maybe even six months - mean people get to spend less time thinking about their HIV medication and can instead move on to living their best lives. "Taking a pill every day is a constant reminder of living with HIV which is still a stigmatised disease. We’ve seen the excitement of going from daily to one month, then two months and now we’re looking at every three or four months. "What we hear from patients is the longer the better," she added. Visit: Visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS Meet Hugo: Medtronic's Surgical Robot Cleared For Use In Europe by Ash Jones


reland-based US healthcare company Medtronic has revealed its surgery assistant robot, dubbed Hugo, has been cleared for use in several European countries. The robot, which performed its first surgery - a prostatectomy - on a human this past summer in Chile has seen limited rollout for a number of key procedures in places such as Asia and Latin America. The platform, a robotic-assisted surgery (RAS) system made up of modular surgical arms atop wheeled carts and equipped with 3D visualisation and cloud-based surgical video capture, has also seen scattered use in Asia, such as when it performed another prostatectomy in India. The company revealed a timeline going back to 2019 with the company trying to gain regulatory approval in Europe as well as attempting to pass checks from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "This day has been a long time coming, not just for Medtronic, but for the surgeons and hospital leaders who have partnered with us on this journey to bring the benefits of roboticassisted surgery to more patients around the world", said Megan Rosengarten, the head of Medtronic's surgical robots wing.

"With the Hugo RAS system in our European customers' hands and our dedicated team by their side, together we will redefine what is possible in robotic-assisted surgery", she added. Hugo has been cleared by regulators to perform urologic and gynecologic surgeries during its initial rollout wave in Europe, including hysterectomies. Gynecologic and urologic procedures currently account for more than half of all roboticassisted check-ups today, according to the healthcare firm, with the former being a focus of its initial launch wave in Latin America. The company suggests as many as 3% of all medical procedures worldwide are handled through robotics with this number expected to climb rapidly as automation becomes a larger fact of life in hospitals. Research has suggested robotic-assisted surgery leads to fewer complications as well as reducing the time before a patient can resume normal activities. Cosmetic benefits may include a reduction in visible scars, alongside an overall reduced chance of infection and less pain and blood loss. "Robotics and artificial intelligence are the undeniable future of healthcare, with incredible potential to not only advance patient care, but

Illumina Finalises $8bn Grail Merger Despite Ongoing EU Probe by Steven Gislam


n a rarely seen move, US biotech company Illumina has finalised its $8 billion (€6.85 billion) acquisition of cancer screening company Grail, despite an ongoing antitrust investigation by the EU. The deal, which has an expiry date of December 20, is being examined by regulatory authorities in Brussels over concerns that it could reduce competition and innovation. Both companies are worried that the transaction would not receive official approval before that date and have made the unusual move of closing the deal ahead of receiving regulatory approval. In a statement, Illumina said that Grail would be held as a separate, independent company for the duration of the European Commission review. The announcement has been timed to occur during a period of relative inactivity in Brussels, with many officials on a summer break, and is likely to be considered somewhat provocative by the bloc, with questions over its legal standing likely to arise. By taking this action, the companies risk a fine and could face lengthy legal battles in the European courts.

increase access to these benefits," said Rob ten Hoedt, executive vice president of Medtronic EMEA. "We've had strong interest from leading surgical centres across Europe and expect to move quickly with multiple installations in several countries." Select hospitals in Europe will be able to utilise Hugo as part of a wider research and development outfit with the goal of introducing the platform to patients worldwide. Clinicians from these hospitals will be offered hands-on training at two flagship sites operated in partnership with the ORSI Academy in Ghent, Belgium, and IRCAD in Strasbourg, France. The platform is designed to reduce the barrier for entry for hospitals looking to break into or expand their reach into robotic surgery. Hugo is easily customisable with up to four surgical arms and can be easily transported across hospital wards. More information:

Illumina first announced its intention to acquire Grail around a year ago, four years after it spun the cancer screening firm off. Grail, which is backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos among others, has produced a blood test that can detect 50 different types of cancer before symptoms appear. "Illumina’s acquisition of Grail will accelerate access and adoption of this life-saving test worldwide," said the company in a statement. At present, Grail posts no revenues in the EU, prompting Illumina to argue that the merger does not fall with the Commission's remit as no regulatory thresholds are triggered inside the bloc or any of its member states. The Luxembourg-based General Court of the European Union will hear Illumina's jurisdictional challenge later in the year. "By holding Grail separate while proceedings are ongoing, Illumina is positioned to abide by whatever final decision is reached in these legal processes," the statement said. "Just as we are now able to screen for early-stage diabetes and high cholesterol, we will soon be able to conduct multi-cancer early detection with a simple blood test in your doctor’s office," said Illumina CEO Francis deSouza. "Since early detection of cancer saves lives, this new genomic test will be nothing short of transformational for human health and the economics of healthcare." Visit: Industry Europe 41


New developments in Metals & Mining

BHP & POSCO To Jointly Explore Decarbonised Steelmaking by Steven Gislam


ustralian mining, metals and petroleum company BHP and South Korea’s POSCO, one of the world’s largest steelmakers, are to begin jointly exploring greenhouse gas emissions reduction technologies in steelmaking. The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding, part of which laid out the intention to undertake pilot and plant trials to lower carbon in the steelmaking process including optimising coke quality and assessing carbon capture storage and utilisation (CCUS) options to lower carbon intensity in the blast furnace.

POSCO and BHP say they will share research on hydrogen-based direct reduction technology, the use of biomass in steelmaking, as well as the potential to leverage BHP's carbon offsetting capabilities in the development of carbonneutral steel products. BHP is looking to invest up to $10 million over the next five years under the MoU, with the opportunity to increase investment in technologies under the trial. The investment will be drawn from the company's $400 million Climate Investment Program, which was announced in 2019. The companies will also collaborate on the reporting of carbon emissions through the steel value chain to further progress consistent, transparent and robust global standards. BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said, “The pathway to net-zero for steelmaking is not yet clear but we believe that, by working with industry leaders like POSCO, together we will find solutions more quickly to help reduce carbon emissions in steelmaking and along the value chain. BHP recently announced a goal to

Top Miners Make Landmark Pledge For Net-Zero By 2050 by Steven Gislam


ome of the world's top mining companies have pledged to reach netzero direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2050 or before, according to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). An open letter written by ICMM CEO Rohitesh Dhawan and signed by the CEOs and presidents of 28 of the world's largest miners including Rio Tinto, Glencore and Anglo American, said that the companies agreed to "collectively commit as members of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) to a goal of net-zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement." Scope 1 emissions relate to direct emissions, coming from owned or controlled sources, and Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, heat or cooling. The letter also pledged to "accelerate action on Scope 3 emissions", saying that a target would be set "if not by the end of 2023, as soon as possible". Scope 3 covers all other indirect emissions occurring all along a company's value chain, such as customers processing iron ore to steel. The technologies for "green steel" are mostly still at the pilot stage at present, such as the HYBRIT and H2GS plants in Sweden, and the HYFOR plant in Austria. The ICMM pledge comes just a few weeks before the start of COP26, the UN climate summit being held in Glasgow, Scotland. The summit will see representatives from the almost 200 countries that signed the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming. 42 Industry Europe

pursue net-zero Scope 3 emissions by 20501 and we are committed to working with industry leaders in steelmaking to address this hard-toabate sector. "Steel is a critical product for the world to grow and decarbonise, and we must work hard together to enable greener steel, reducing carbon intensity in the blast furnace and testing new technologies for steel production." POSCO’s Head of Steel Business Unit, Hag-Dong Kim, said, “Though achieving carbon neutrality is a difficult path ahead, with POSCO working together with BHP’s outstanding mining expertise and the will to achieve a low-carbon future, I have every reason to believe that we can create a significant turning point in carbon emission reduction across our value chain.” The MoU with POSCO follows BHP’s earlier partnerships established with major steelmakers China Baowu, JFE Steel and HBIS Group to explore emissions reduction from steelmaking. The combined output of the four steel companies equates to around 12% of reported global steel production. Visit:

Many mining companies, under intense pressure from climate activists, investors and shareholders, have already made individual commitments to a 2050 net-zero emission target. Nonetheless, the ICMM agreement is the largest collective pledge of its kind so far, and "represents a joint ambition from companies that make up one-third of the global mining and metals industry," the letter said. The ICMM has 28 members and covers 650 sites across more than 50 countries. Bringing down both direct and indirect emissions in the sector will be achieved partly through accelerating the use of ios renewable energy sources and lowering or completely stopping the use of diesel trucks, Dhawan was quoted by Reuters as saying. He added that ICMM members have collectively reduced emissions by 6% from 2016 to 2018. Visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS Brumadinho Dam: Case Brought Against Germany's TÜV Süd

by Ash Jones


erman industrial inspector TÜV Süd has been brought to court over its supposed role in the tragic 2019 Brumadinho dam collapse which resulted in the deaths of 270 people. The company inspected the dam on behalf of its owner, Brazilian mining giant Vale, shortly before its failure. The resulting landslide released over 13 billion cubits of toxic sludge that polluted local waterways, destroyed villages and affected around 200,000 people. Vale, which found itself in hot water following the crisis, including being blacklisted by a number of European investors and seeing its shared prices plummet, agreed to a $7 billion (€5.77 billion) settlement over the case. Lawyers of the victims of the disaster hailed a "very positive day in court" after day one of the civil action suit brought against the German company in Munich. The disaster is often referred to as one of the worst environmental and humanitarian disasters in Brazil, and likely was before the slew of forest fires that ravaged the Amazon rainforest during 2020 and 2021. It is also by far the most costly mining incident in the country. The claimants seek damages relating to the disaster, and a declaratory ruling that TÜV Süd will compensate for all further damages related to the disaster. The dam collapsed four months after an inspection by TÜV Süd, which case lawyers believe makes the company partially liable for the disaster.

"It’s edifying to finally begin this process, and we have the utmost faith in the German legal system and those overseeing this case", one of the lawyers defending the claimants, Pedro Martins said. He revealed the prosecution has full faith in the case and there was sufficient evidence that the German company "certified the dam despite it not meeting safety standards". “There is no way to undo what has been done, but this case does represent the hope of adequate reparations to rebuild lives and communities," he added. Lawyers representing TÜV Süd said the company regretted the disaster but claims it was not responsible for the disaster, bringing up Vale's settlement as proof of culpability. They also suggested the miner did not adhere to concerns addressed in its safety report. However, lawyers for the claimants suggest access to full justice in Brazil could "take decades". Jan Spangenberg of the law firm PHMBM revealed to the court that only €160,000 has been handed to the state of Minas Gerais by the federal government and 70% of the sludge has yet to be removed. Families of the victims wish for everyone involved in the collapse to be held responsible. They accused TÜV Süd of certifying a tailings dam and applying safety verification standards that did not meet international requirements. This certification allowed the dam, and the mine that caused the collapse, to continue operations. Visit:

Fortescue And Aboriginal Group Form Mining Pact by Ash Jones


ustralian iron ore group Fortescue Metals Group has reached a deal with the Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation (WGAC) for a co-management framework to oversee the development of new mines at the miner's Solomon Hub operations in Western Australia. This comes as part of the latest development between Australian mining giants and the traditional owners of the land in the wake of Rio Tinto's blasting of the 46,000-year-old cave complex at Juukan Gorge last May. The joint venture will see new mines developed at the East and West Queens deposits in Eastern Guruma land. Expected to operate for around 10 years, the development will see an investment of around AU$500 million (€264.5 million) - by far the largest ever sum awarded to an Aboriginal group. In addition, a working group will collaborate on aspects of a mine's development cycle, from scouting and ensuring heritage and cultural protection and ensuring environmental approvals, resource drilling and ming planning to full

operations and mine rehabilitation - the restoration of post-mined land to its intended purpose. "Working collaboratively, we will ensure that Eastern Guruma people are active participants in the future development of mines on our country, enabling deeper consultation around the protection of culturally significant sites while building a better future for our people,” Wintawari Chair Glen Camille said in a statement. “The establishment of this new co-management joint venture represents the next step in our journey with Fortescue," he added. Fortescue's CEO Elizabeth Gaines said the deal strengthens the miner's relationship with the traditional owners, stating the company was "proud of its long-standing relationship" with the WGAC. "We are confident that this new collaborative framework will strengthen our ties with the Eastern Guruma People, through the unique opportunity to have a seat at the table to share cultural knowledge and guide the growth of Fortescue’s operations on their country," she added. Australia's mining sector has been looking at operating closely with traditional owners follow-

ing the blasting of Juukan Gorge, which caused public outrage both at home and abroad. The disaster led to a parliamentary inquiry into Rio Tinto, which is still ongoing, and cost three major executives their jobs and led to a corporate reshuffling. The Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) Aboriginal Corporation also looked to get a seat at the table for its mining operations. The mining giant's new CEO has revealed the company will be looking at working more closely with the traditional owners to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Visit: Industry Europe 43


New developments in Metals & Mining

Nickel Demand May Outstrip Supply By Mid-Decade, Rystad Warns by Ash Jones


lobal demand for high-grade nickel, an essential mineral in the manufacturing of electric vehicle car batteries, may outpace demand by 2024, the latest data from Rystad Energy suggests. The firm estimates demand for the metal will increase to around 3.4 million tonnes by 2024, rising from 2.5 million tonnes in 2021 as the electric vehicle market continues to grow with automakers scrambling to decarbonise their portfolios in the face of stricter emissions targets and heightened consumer awareness over the industry’s effects on the climate. Nickel’s year-on-year climb will continue to be steady, it warned, but analysis of existing infrastructure suggests a shortage will occur within two years. The gap between global supply and demand will then widen quickly to a deficit of around 0.56 million tonnes by 2026. “The potential nickel shortage could encourage industry leaders to look to previously unattractive sources of nickel, including deposits in Indonesia”, according to James Ley, a global energy metals expert and Senior Vice President with Rystad Energy. “However, 44 Industry Europe

the process of extracting nickel from these deposits has inherent risks and challenges, including environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns”. Supply shortages could cause numerous headaches and pitfalls for automotive manufacturing in the West. It is likely deficits will encourage automakers to seek alternative methods for developing car batteries should these shortages become obstructive, such as recycling existing batteries for parts or researching alternative battery chemistries.

Lay also warned this could lead to automakers assigning extra funds to search for previously untapped nickel deposits. “The shortage has no other obvious solution in sight that won’t tarnish carmakers with several unattractive ESG issues”, he added. The two countries with the largest nickel deposits are Indonesia and Cuba and there is currently estimated to be around 94 million tonnes of known nickel reserves globally. The energy transition and a push towards greater electrification have caused the battery market to explode in recent years. According to Rystad’s forecast, nickel-based batteries are expected to hold the largest share of the battery market by 2030, coming in slightly ahead of iron-based batteries. However, potential nickel shortages could cause difficulties, as the battery sector still has to compete with other growing industries, such as steelmaking, which currently accounts for 70% of global nickel demand, the group claims, and is expected to grow by 5% per year at the same time the demand for nickelbased batteries is set to explode. According to this data, the battery market only accounts for 9% of all global nickel demand, but is expected to bloat to 31% by 2026. Surging demand for the battery market will place huge pressure on nickel supply inside of a decade, Lay has warned, which is only being exacerbated by mining companies not being able to find new, reliable and sufficient deposits of nickel to keep up with these accelerating production demands. Visit:

Source: Rystad Energy Battery MaterialsCube, Rystad Energy research and analysis


INDUSTRYNEWS Defiant Polish PM Refuses To Shut Coal Mine Despite EU Court Fine by Steven Gislam


oland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has reacted defiantly after the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) ordered the country to pay a fine of €500,000 daily for keeping open the coal mine at Turów near the Czech border, despite an earlier court ruling to halt operations. The fine was issued following a request by the Czech Republic, which has been at odds with its northern neighbour for some time over the open-pit lignite mine that sits close to the shared border between the two countries and Germany. Prague says the mine is creating cross-border environmental problems, in particular relating to air and water pollution, and is damaging communities. Morawiecki reacted angrily to the news, describing the fine as “radically aggressive and harmful”, adding that Poland would take legal steps to prove it was “disproportionate” and “arbitrary”. “We are not going to turn off Turów, it would deprive millions of Polish families of electricity,” he said during a media briefing, according to the Polish Press Agency. The lignite mine, which has been operational for more than a century, recently expanded further towards the border with the Czech Republic.

The EU court first ordered the closure of the Turów mine in May, though Poland has not complied. In June, the Czech government requested the Luxembourg-based CJEU fine Warsaw €5 million for each day extraction continued. The court agreed but set the fine much lower. Judges said: “Such a measure appears necessary in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the interim measures decided upon in the order of 21 May 2021 and to deter that member state from delaying bringing its conduct into line with that order.” While the €500,000 per day fine is considerably less than that originally requested, Prague welcomed the penalty, saying that its aim was to reach an amicable agreement. The Czech government is likely to view the court’s verdict as a form of leverage in the ongoing bilateral talks covering several issues related to the mine, including measures to limit noise and air pollution and damage to the water table. It is expected that a deal would put an end to any legal disputes. Warsaw has said that the CJEU penalty has undermined those talks and that Turów, which employs 4,000 people in the area and fuels a power plant that supplies around 7% of Poland’s energy demand, would remain operational.

In April, the Polish government announced it had reached an agreement with trade unions to phase out coal production in the country by 2049. “The Polish government will not close the mine. From the very beginning, we were of the opinion that the suspension of the works of the mine in Turów would threaten the stability of the Polish power system,” said Polish Government Spokesperson Piotr Mueller in a statement. Some officials in Poland strongly rejected the court order. Deputy justice minister Marcin Romanowski took to Twitter, saying: “The CJEU demands half a million daily fines from Poland for the fact that Poland did not leave its citizens without energy and did not close the mines overnight. “This is not even blackmail, it is judicial robbery and theft in broad daylight. You won’t get a cent.” The court ruling comes at a time when Poland finds itself increasingly at odds with the EU, largely over the rule of law. Earlier this month, former President of the European Council and present leader of Poland’s main opposition group Donald Tusk warned that the “constant undermining” of his country’s membership of the European Union by the ruling Law and Justice Party could have grave consequences for its future in the bloc.

Rio Tinto Partners With Caterpillar For Zero-Emission Mining Trucks by Ash Jones


ustralian mining giant Rio Tinto has partnered with mining equipment provider Caterpillar to deploy a fleet of zero-emission mining trucks at one of its mines in Western Australia. The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding for 35 new 220-tonne zero-emission autonomous trucks to be used at the Gudai-Darri mine in the iron-rich Pilbara region - supposedly Rio’s most technologically advanced mines. As part of this deal, the companies will continue to refine Caterpillar’s zero-emissions technology through the creation of prototypes, which will undergo testing before being launched on-site. “Our ambition to reach net-zero emissions across our operations is a priority”, Rio Tinto’s CCO Alf Barrios said. “Reaching this ambition will require new and innovative solutions and partnerships with supplier partners like Caterpillar. This collaboration represents a small but important step on that journey.” “We look forward to working together to validate these zero-emissions haul trucks in just a few years’ time. The advanced technology at Gudai-Darri puts it at the forefront of new mining operations globally

and we look forward to adding Caterpillar zero-emissions haul trucks to the site”, he added. Caterpillar Group President Denise Johnson said, “The integration of autonomy with a zero-emissions fleet demonstrates Rio Tinto’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions. “By leveraging these technologies across their sites, Rio Tinto can more safely increase productivity, efficiency and be more sustainable. We are pleased to be part of Rio Tinto’s sustainability journey and look forward to building on our long-standing collaboration.” Caterpillar also partnered with fellow Australian miner BHP to deliver a fleet of zero-emission trucks - on which the two parties have been testing at various sites for the past 12 months - as the company looks to shift from fossil fuels. The miner recently sold off its oil & gas unit in a merger with Australia’s Woodside - a sector that only accounted for 5% of its profits. Back in June Rio Tinto announced it would be deploying an autonomous water truck at the Gudai-Darri mine, also to be produced by Caterpillar. The miner is also currently undergoing feasibility trials for a potential extension to the Pilbara mine to the tune of AU$44 million (€23.2 million). Visit: Industry Europe 45


New developments in Politics & Economics

Ukraine Slams Gazprom's Hungary Deal, Demands Sanctions by Steven Gislam


kraine has called on the US and Germany to impose sanctions on Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom following a deal the firm made with Hungary, depriving Kyiv of gas supplies and transit fees. The deal, which was signed last week in Budapest and covers the next 15 years, will see gas supplies of up to 4.5 billion cubic metres sent to Hungary every year. The head of Ukraine's gas transport company, Sergiy Makogon, said that Hungary had received its gas via the Ukraine "for decades" and that there had been no violation of contractual obligations. "The strengthening of the dominant position of one player and their use of leverage for obviously political purposes against the backdrop of a shocking rise in gas prices in Europe must be stopped," he added. The Ukrainian foreign ministry issued a statement decrying the Hungarian deal, saying it was a "purely political, economically unreasonable decision", and calling on the European Commission to investigate whether it was in compliance with EU energy law. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - who is facing next year what is expected to be his first genuinely competitive election since 2010 dismissed the criticism, saying that without the Gazprom deal, Hungarians would be looking at much higher gas bills.

"We need gas. This is the reality. You [Ukraine] need to agree with the Russians," he said in an interview with public radio. In a press release, Gazprom said that an "important component" of the deal was "the diversification of supply routes". From now on, Hungary will receive gas via TurkStream, which crosses the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and on through Bulgaria and Serbia. Crucially, this means that Hungary will no longer receive gas via the Ukrainian route something which Kyiv has denounced as the "use of gas as a weapon". Not only does the deal deprive Ukraine of the transit revenues, but it also means that it can no longer import reverse flow gas via Hungary, which it has done since 2015, as a way of not buying directly from Russia. In May, US President Joe Biden declined from imposing further sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which he said was provisional on Russia refraining from using "gas as a weapon". In July, that red line was seemingly strengthened when Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to impose sanctions if Moscow weaponised gas supply. "The monopolization of gas routes by Gazprom, which we are currently witnessing, raises questions about the basic principles of functioning of EU gas markets - competitiveness and transparency," Ukraine’s national gas transport company said in a tweet.

Ukraine's relations with Russia have been in crisis since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, as well as Moscow's continued backing for separatist movements in the country's east. Writing on Facebook, Yuriy Vitrenko, the head of Ukraine's Naftogaz, called on both Washington and Berlin to honour what he said were pledges to get tough with Moscow if it crossed the red line the two countries agreed on. "We publicly and privately warned our partners in Germany and the USA that this could happen, and that ending physical transit through Ukraine will create huge threats to Ukraine and Europe. "A joint statement from the United States and Germany indicates that if the Kremlin used gas as a weapon, there should be an appropriate reaction. We are now waiting for sanctions to be imposed on the 100% subsidiary of Gazprom, Nord Stream 2," he added, in reference to the Biden-Merkel announcement in July. Similar concerns have been voiced in Poland. Gas supplies via the Yamal-Europe pipeline which traverses the country were down 77% on Friday, with Gazprom booking only one-third of available capacity for October. "There have been and will be accusations against Russia, the majority of which are politicised," Peskov said when asked about Ukraine's complaints. "The main thing in this situation is that we are consistently fulfilling our obligations." Visit:

Economic Institutes Cut German GDP Forecast For 2021 by Steven Gislam


ermany's five top economic institutes have cut their joint forecast for growth in 2021 in the country to 2.4% with supply chain disruptions hindering manufacturing, but the prediction for next year has been raised. The five institutes, comprising of Berlin's DIW, Essen's RWI, Munich's Ifo, Kiel's IfW and Halle's IWH, raised the forecast for next year to 4.8% from 3.9%, saying that the economy would return to normal over the course of the year as the impact of Covid-19 gradually faded. The news that the forecast for 2021 would be cut to 2.4% from 3.7% was first reported in Reuters. "The challenges of climate change and the foreseeable lower economic growth due to a shrinking labour force will reduce consumption opportunities," said IWH Vice President Oliver Holtemoeller. The global manufacturing sector has been hit badly by component shortages, jammed ports and a lack of cargo containers.

46 Industry Europe

Germany's Economy Ministry said an increase in GDP was likely in Q3 as a result of expansion in services, though it is expected that growth will stagnate by the end of 2021. The Ministry said it also does not expect any easing of inflation until 2022 when one-off effects come to an end. The current 4.1% rate of inflation is the highest Germany has seen since 1993, largely as a result of rising energy costs. The five institutes say they expect inflation to be 2.5% next year and 1.7% in 2023. "We assume that monetary policy will be able to achieve its price stability goal in the medium term. That would be an average inflation rate for consumer prices of 2% per year," Holtemoeller told a news conference. They added that the current forecast for inflation was based on the assumption that there would be a 2.5% rise in wages over the coming years. If wages collectively were to rise by more than that, as has been suggested by trade unions, it would change the situation drastically, leading to high inflation rates.


INDUSTRYNEWS Saudi Arabia Pledges To Be Net-Zero By 2060 by Ash Jones


audi Arabia has vowed to become net-zero by 2060, while still keeping its eye on crude oil production for the near future, the nation's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has revealed in a speech ahead of the COP26 summit. The announcement, made on October 23, came alongside a disclaimer that Riyadh would not seek to move away from fossil fuels for the time being while investing in new schemes to slowly reduce emissions. The Saudis are expected to work towards cutting overall emissions by around 278 million tonnes year-on-year by 2030, with a view to investing 700 billion riyals (€160 billion) in various climate initiatives. Included in these initiatives was a pledge to plant as many as 450 million new trees and reuse or rehabilitate large amounts of land. The announcement places it in line with other countries such as China and Russia, who have both also pledged to be net-zero by 2050. However, other powers such as the US, UK and EU have all pledged to be net-zero by 2050, with sweeping changes set for the 2020s in what Brussels refers to as the "decade of change".

The kingdom has been vocal about those who feel fossil fuels need to be rapidly phased out, concerned this could lead to price shocks and shortages and threaten energy security. It was one of a few COP26 nations, alongside Japan and Australia, that attempted to get the UN to play down the need to transition away from fossil fuel ahead of the summit, according to leaked documents. Saudi Arabia is currently one of the largest producers of oil in the world - currently second ahead of Russia for crude oil produced, losing only to the US - but is the number one exporter globally. The kingdom's exports are currently not counted towards overall carbon emissions. Saudi Arabia is currently ranked 10th globally in terms of annual emissions. Despite this, Bin Salman expressed interest in using what he referred to as a "carbon circular approach" to turn Riyadh into "a more sustainable capital", advocating for a methodology of "reuse, recycle, reduce or remove". Current plans to tackle climate change were laid out by the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. The goal is to reduce a rise in global temperatures by a minimum of 2°C, with the ultimate goal of limiting the rise to 1.5°C. The International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed in May that "radical change" is needed to en route to net-zero, stipulating the need to immediately phase out future oil and natural gas projects in favour of greener alternatives. In his speech, Bin Salman specified his ambitions are to "preserve and reinforce" the kingdom's role in the "stability and security" of global energy markets while allowing for sufficient technology to be developed and matured in order to actively reduce emissions. Also outlined in his speech were plans to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman - the Crown Prince's brother - revealed the nation will invest heavily in carbon capture technologies to help meet its goals.

Putin Calls For Smoother Green Transition by Steven Gislam


ussian President Vladimir Putin has said that the "hysteria" around European energy markets has been driven by insufficient investment in the sector, calling for a smoother transition to green technologies. Speaking during a Cabinet meeting, Putin claimed that the current situation with soaring natural gas prices in Europe was partly rooted in the lack of investment. "See what’s going in Europe — there is hysteria and mess in the markets," he said. "Why? Because nobody takes it seriously. Some speculate on the climate change issues, some underestimate certain things and some others start cutting investments in the mining industries." He said Russia wouldn’t repeat the mistakes others have made in adopting green technologies.

"There must be a smooth transition," he said. "We see what certain unbalanced decisions, unbalanced development and sharp twists can lead to. We can see it well today in the European energy markets." Putin has repeatedly said that Russia - which is a major oil and gas exporter - will abide by its obligations under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. However, he has also emphasised that efforts to cut emissions mustn’t be too

burdensome for the Russian economy, which is heavily reliant on exports of fossil fuels. "The tasks of reducing a negative impact on climate mustn’t become a heavy burden for business and our citizens," the Russian president said. "Just the other way round, the decisions we make must help spur growth and technological development of the Russian economy." Putin argued that Russia has a strong edge in hydropower and nuclear power generation and should develop them, but noted the need to ensure a "sustainable development of the oil and gas complex." Some have accused Russia of not being ambitious enough in its climate goals, in particular with regard to its use of and export of fossil fuels. Moscow has faced demands to sign up for a future net-zero emissions target at the COP26 climate negotiations that open in Glasgow on October 31. Putin has not yet revealed whether he will attend. Industry Europe 47


New developments in Technology & Innovation

New £500,000 Digital Testbed Could Usher 5G Enabled Smart Factories by Ash Jones


new digital testbed, the result of a £500,000 collaboration between Queen's University Belfast, BT and Cisco, could provide the means to run smart factories using 5G technology. The new platform may allow industry players a chance to collaborate and explore the benefits of 5G connectivity and stand to increase efficiency, productivity and optimise every aspect of production and manufacturing. The aim of the project is to increase digitalisation in factories, including the adoption of automation and robotics, to pave the way for them to compete on a global level. The facility also reportedly allows for researchers at Queen's University to translate their research into Industry 4.0 concepts such as digital twinning, cybersecurity, digitised manufacturing and more. “As the manufacturing sector moves towards digital technologies and supporting Industry 4.0, digital testing is vital in helping to improve performance and quality of production. 5G technology offers higher speeds, greater capacity and shorter response times to the digital

environment", said Colin Higgins, the head of the Northern Ireland Tech Centre. “This £500k investment by BT, Cisco and Queen’s is an important collaboration of academia and business and will help us to deliver our mission of driving innovation and creating solutions from R&D. This will in turn help to grow market opportunities and create a step-change in smart manufacturing.” The project is set to build on existing research in smart factory technology which has been taking place through the University’s iAMS (intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems), Pioneering Research Programme and Project SCENIC - supported by Invest Northern Ireland's Research and Development programme.

EU Courts Taiwanese Chip Firms With Appeal To Common Values by Steven Gislam


he EU and Taiwan have shared values and strong democratic principles, making them natural partners with regard to semiconductors, senior EU official Sabine Weyand has said as she made a pitch for the country's chip firms to invest in the bloc. Home to companies like TSMC, Taiwan has become something of a tech powerhouse and is in a key position to help assuage the global semiconductor shortage that has seen several automotive production lines shut and has begun to impact the consumer electronics industry too. TSMC is currently constructing a $12 billion semiconductor plant in Arizona, US, but has so far shown no signs of interest in doing the same in Europe. 48 Industry Europe

Paul Murnaghan, the regional director for BT's enterprise in Northern Ireland hopes the testbed will provide an opportunity for UK businesses to integrate Industry 4.0 technologies into their manufacturing chains. "As the third-largest investor in R&D in the UK, BT is committed to leading the way in creating strategic partnerships like this that will help to benefit local businesses across Northern Ireland", he added. Shane Heraty, Cisco's managing director said: “The smart manufacturing test centre at NITC will help organisations to trial leading-edge technology and processes that have the potential to position them at the forefront of Industry 4.0 in Northern Ireland. “Industry 4.0 provides an opportunity to modernise and leverage the benefits of digitisation, optimising production and utilising real-time data to make smarter and faster decisions. We’re proud to be working with Queen’s and BT through our Country Digital Acceleration programme, which aims to help build a more digital and inclusive society.” Visit:

Weyand, who is director-general of the European Commission's trade section, gave a speech to a virtual Taiwan-EU investment forum where she said that the impact of the chip shortage on the automotive industry had been a stark reminder of just how essential semiconductors are. "With the European Chips Act, Europe will step up its efforts to increase production, but we also want to cooperate with our likeminded partners including Taiwan," she said, in reference to proposed legislation by the commission last month. "Not only because Taiwan excels in the production of semiconductors, but also because technology is ultimately a question of security. We want the EU's digital agenda to be shaped together with our like-minded partners and according to our common values." While neither the European Union nor any of its member states have formal diplomatic relations with democratically-governed Taiwan, largely due to Chinese claims of sovereignty over the island, Taipei is eager to sign a Bilaterial Investment Agreement with the bloc. Taiwan was added to the EU's list of trade partners in 2015, the year before President Tsai Ing-wen came to power, but since then no further talks have been held. At the same forum, Tsai said that Taiwan's democracy, freedom and respect for human rights made it a "natural" partner for the EU. "Starting talks on a bilateral investment agreement can be the beginning of an even more concrete partnership for democracies like us," she said.


INDUSTRYNEWS Intel To Invest €80 Billion Into EU Chip Production by Ash Jones


S tech giant Intel has pledged at least €80 billion in funding for chipmaking within the EU over the next decade to give its domestic production a boost, the company's CEO has revealed. This sees four times the initial investment offered for EU chip development back in June, with the tech giant choosing to sweeten the deal by opening its Ireland semiconductor plant to European automakers. The company previously pledged at least $20 billion (€16.9 billion) in gigafactory investment for the EU, with the potential for it to be split across multiple member states. Intel has increased the in-house production of semiconductors in a bid to address the global chip shortage. This was revealed ahead of US President Joe Biden's call for businesses to help deal with the crisis. Speaking at the Munich IAA conference, the group's CEO Pat Pat Gelsinger stated the "digitalisation of everything" will increase semiconductors share in the cost of vehicles by as much as 30% by 2030 - up from 4% in 2019. To help address this demand he also revealed Intel will be announcing the locations for new chip plants in Europe by the end of the year. “This new era of sustained demand for semiconductors needs bold, big thinking,” he told the conference. “As CEO of Intel, I have the great privilege to be in a position to marshal the energies of 116,000 employees and a massive chip-design and manufacturing ecosystem, to meet the demand.”

Gelsinger predicted the total addressable market for automotive semiconductors will nearly double by the end of the decade to $115 billion (€97.3 billion). Intel is currently one of the largest chipmakers in the electronics sector, specialising in making chips for the CPUs found in computers. The semiconductor shortage has created pitfalls that have affected both the electronics and automotive industries. It has drastically affected the adoption of electric vehicles, owing to automakers not having the supply to produce the numbers they need. Alongside the new factories, Intel revealed its plans to develop a foundry at its chip plant in Ireland, with its new business "Intel Foundry Services", which was revealed in March, currently engaged with automakers across Europe in a bid to move automotive designs to advanced nodes using more sophisticated technology - the so-called "Intel 6", and later, "Intel 3" and "Intel 18A" technologies. Keynote attendees witnessed the unveiling of Mobileye's first autonomous vehicle scheduled to hit production. “Mobileye is passionate about bringing autonomous vehicles to consumers,” the company's CEO Amnon Shashua revealed. "Mobileye shares the dream of autonomy – anywhere, anytime, for everybody." At the event, it was also revealed that a fleet of "autotaxis" - taxis operating using autonomous vehicle technology - would be introduced to Germany's roads at some point in 2022. The service will be operated in partnership with German rental car company Sixt and Israeli startup Moovit, which was recently acquired by Intel for $900 million.

Semiconductor Market Might Reach Overcapacity By 2023, IDC Suggests by Ash Jones


he global semiconductor market could stabilise by 2022 before reaching overcapacity in 2023 as larger-scale chip-making plants become operational towards the end of the year, according to the latest report by the IDC. The analytics firm predicts a 17.3% market share increase for 2021, up from 10% in 2020 with demand continuing to be driven by an increased desire for consumer electronics and pushes towards automotive electrification. Many analysts foresee the shortages lasting into 2023, with several key automakers and tech giants investing in domestic production to deal with supply chain disruptions that have resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the rise of the Delta Covid variant and a continued rise in cases, IDC reports semiconductor consumption habits remain healthy. The company reports that dedicated foundries have been allocated for the rest of the year, with capacity utilisation at nearly 100%. “The semiconductor content story is intact and not only does it benefit the semiconductor companies, but the unit volume growth in many of the

markets that they serve will also continue to drive very good growth for the semiconductor market,” said Mario Morales, the group's Vice President for Enabling Technologies and Semiconductors at IDC. The chip shortage has caused many manufacturers to operate at a reduced capacity owing to a lack of supply, with particular ramifications for the automotive sector. Various legislators, such as the Biden administration and the European Union, have pledged to tackle the shortage as a matter of urgency, with initiatives being set up to increase domestic chip production. Tech giant Intel recently pledged €80 billion in funding for EU chip production, which could see chip gigafactories in several EU countries in a bid to stimulate growth. Samsung is also attempting to find a home for its mammoth $17 billion battery gigafactory, which could mark a potential second chip plant in the state of Texas. IDC reports that dedicated foundry capacity has been allocated for the rest of the year, and front-end manufacturing remains tight, but key players will be getting the production capacity they need through partnerships and mergers.

It also states that integrated circuit shortages would wane by the end of 2021 owing to accelerated production. The report also provides information on potential growth areas for semiconductors going into the future. 5G semiconductor revenue is expected to rise by 128% during Q4 2021, while total mobile phone semiconductors are expected to grow by 28.5%. Game consoles, smart homes, and wearables will grow 34%, 20%, 21% respectively, while the automotive sector, which has seen steady increases in the adoption of electrification throughout the year, could see as much as a 22% revenue increase. IDC also expected semiconductor wafer prices to continue to increase throughout 2021 owing to rising material costs and as chip production services mature. Despite this, the firm expects the global semiconductor market to reach around $600 billion by 2025. The market could see as much as a 5.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) - a significant boost over the averaged annual growth rate of 3.4%. Industry Europe 49


New developments in Technology & Innovation

The Time For Autonomous Agriculture Is Now, Says VNC Automotive by Steven Gislam


n unprecedented combination of factors including labour shortages, a growing global population, and high levels of connectivity have come together to make now the ideal time to deploy full autonomy in our fields, according to Cambridge-based software company VNC Automotive. With modern tractors containing more processing power than it took to fly to the moon, the company says that agricultural machinery is now so advanced that much of the groundwork required to enable autonomy has already been laid. “Farming, to most people, is something that happens on the other side of a hedgerow,” said Tom Blackie, Founder and CEO, VNC Automotive. “The reality is the journey from seed to supermarket is a long and tortuous one, and with demands to both increase productivity and work in more environmentally sustainable ways, it’s only going to become more challenging. We believe autonomy is key to the delivery of that.” VNC specialises in automotive connectivity and claims to have already connected “hundreds of thousands of tractors globally”. This, it says, can make it a crucial part of the increasingly technological direction the agricultural sector is taking. Autonomy in farming is not a new concept. GPS-enabled automated steering systems, such as John Deere’s AutoTrac, have been guiding tractors and self-propelled farm machinery for almost two decades. The systems have led to the reduced use of pesticides, increased crop yields and reduced plant damage through finding optimised paths across fields. “These systems have come a long way since their inception two decades ago, and now offer accuracy down to just a couple of centimetres. Their widespread adoption across the globe means they’ve earned the trust of farmers everywhere, and today more than 70% of the crop acreage in North America is farmed using these systems. In Australia, it’s more than 90%,” said Blackie. The VNC chief also points to other developments in connectivity that have made farming more efficient such as Implement Automation, which allows towed machinery to communicate with the tractor, and Machine Sync, whereby a combine harvester can control a field full of tractors to coordinate unloading. More recent improvements in machine vision and learning systems have brought about new technologies such as See & Spray, which automatically distinguishes between weeds and cultivated plants, individually treating each with either a targeted pesticide or fertiliser. 50 Industry Europe

These developments have brought with them a new strategy for farm management known as Precision Agriculture. Rather than farming a field as a single unit, this approach allows decisions to be made about individual plants, which VNC says is better for the crops, the environment and is more cost-effective. Instead of spraying an entire field with chemicals, which often run off into waterways, precisely measured doses can be delivered directly to the plants that need them. Precision Agriculture generates vast amounts of data, much of which is stored in the cloud. Once there, it can be used “to support a growing wave of new functionality, from mapping crop yields and soil conditions within a field, to performing crop simulations to select the best planting strategies”. With most modern tractors being already equipped with the hardware necessary for full self-driving, as well as a permanent data connection, Blackie says it is a short step to the world of full autonomy. “We’re already having these conversations with our clients,” he said, “and recent acquisitions by some of the biggest players in the industry point to this happening sooner rather than later.” “While there’s understandable reticence surrounding self-driving passenger cars, if a tractor gets lost in a field it might end up in a ditch or a hedge, not driving the wrong way up the M1. Many of the challenges for autonomous cars stem from the need to map the precise location of every obstacle, some of which, particularly other cars, are constantly moving. But in agriculture, we already know where everything is, even down to the pinpoint location of each individual plant.” Blackie is also quick to point out that agricultural autonomy is not about replacing the farmer. Intelligent machines, whether accompanying a lone worker or deploying themselves can free up the farmer to deal with other matters. He points to situations where the time window for planting may only be open for a few days. In these cases, the ability to work quickly and precisely can have a major impact on productivity for the rest of the year. “Hundreds of thousands of connected machines out there, collecting data day in, day out for more than 20 years means there’s a tremendous amount of learning that’s already been done. Now it’s time to capitalise on that investment.” Visit:



The Opportunity For Supply Chains by Kinaxis, Guest post, Claire Rychlewski


xecutives face a daunting dual challenge every day. On the one hand, there is the need to manage the business through both steadystate operations and times of disruption. On the other, they must create value for shareholders through financial excellence and growth. During the Covid-19 pandemic, both these challenges became even more urgent. As a result, many executives turned to digital solutions to adapt and even find new operational opportunities for their organisations. Yet while many of these opportunities were made possible by digital transformation, linking them to delivering financial excellence has traditionally been difficult. Now, new research shows the correlation between investing in digital transformation and delivering financial success. An academically rigorous, statistically significant analysis was conducted by Professor Morgan Swink, the James L. And Eunice West Chair, Supply Chain Management, and Executive Director, Center for Supply Chain Innovation, at Texas Christian University’s Neely School of Business. Using public, quarterly financial statements for 48 publicly-held, North American companies that use Kinaxis for their supply chain planning, Professor Swink voluntarily and independently conducted what is known as a “difference in differences” analysis spanning all of 2019 and the first three quarters of 2020. These 48 organisations represented those who have already begun their digital transformation against industry averages over the corresponding period. Furthermore, the analysis was performed as a pre/post-event comparison based upon the declaration of Covid-19 as a global pandemic in Q1 2020.

In 2019, prior to the beginning of the pandemic, the financial performance of these 48 businesses outpaced industry averages on key metrics, including return on assets, return on sales, return on invested capital and asset turnover. Throughout the pandemic in Q1-Q3 2020, these businesses extended their leading positions, which, in turn, has increased the gap between their performance and industry averages by as much as 2.5x. It is a clear testament to how a strong focus on digital transformation can translate into positive financial metrics and long-term business success.

Impact of the pandemic on profitability metrics When directly comparing against industry averages, these 48 businesses demonstrated financial improvements across all metrics, even as industry averages showed performance declines in many measures. This holds true for profitability measures and costs. For example, while asset turnover declined across the board, these businesses were able to limit the negative impact better than their industry peers. Revenue and stock price, two of the most important metrics for every executive at a publiclyheld company, were also better among the subset of 48 organisations. During the pandemic, these businesses experienced revenue increases while industry average revenues declined. They also saw their stock price increase by three times more than the industry average.

The opportunity The results of the analysis highlight a significant opportunity for supply chains, which have historically struggled with linking operational capabilities

Claire Rychlewski, SVP EMEA, Kinaxis

and digital transformation into financial success. In both cases, the benefits are typically stated in terminology related to tactical improvements, as opposed to the metrics most important to executives responsible for investment decisions. As Professor Swink stated: “you need to learn what those metrics are and be able to position the proposal in that language just like the other businesses competing for those funds.” Once the metrics are identified, operational capabilities can be understood as corresponding input drivers. For example, increased visibility is highly desirable so that supply chains can sense disruptions as they occur and respond immediately. This tremendous benefit can be tied to financial outcomes such as reduced inventory and cash buffers, improved capacity utilisation and lower cost resolution of demand-supply mismatches. Going further, improved return on invested capital and improved return on assets can be tracked because digitally-enabled operational capabilities are now linked to these financial performance measures. By doing so, it aligns the reasons an investment is needed with its value to the decision-maker. This creates a pivot point for supply chains, as Professor Swink suggests that practitioners must be able “to relate structural choices, policies, technology investments, and training and labour investments to the kinds of KPIs that show up on income statements and balance sheets.” This is crucial because, “if we really want to speak the language of the CFO, we must think beyond those kinds of specific operational metrics to think about how our choices affect these larger outcomes.” The author, Claire Rychlewski, is Senior Vice President EMEA at Kinaxis. Industry Europe 51


New developments in Transportation

Italy Bids Farewell To Alitalia As ITA Takes To The Skies

by Steven Gislam


5 years of Italian aviation history came to an end on Friday as the country's new national airline took to the skies, drawing to a close the story of its beleaguered and bankrupt predecessor. The official handover from Alitalia to Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA) was signalled when an early morning flight touched down in the southern city of Bari, ending many tumultuous years of financial difficulties and expensive rescue attempts by the Italian government. It cost just €90 million for ITA to take over the Alitalia brand - much less than the €290 million original asking price. While the deal included the rights to the green, white and red livery, the name Alitalia will be abandoned completely. In a deal signed off by the European Commission, ITA is to be economically independent and not liable for any of the illegal state aid given to Alitalia. The new airline will also need to be profitable by the end of its 20212025 business plan and the company chair, Alfredo Altavilla, said that it is searching for a deal with a larger carrier, as it is too small to survive alone. "ITA will start holding talks to reach a deal [with another player] from next week, aiming to complete it by 2022," Altavilla said. Earlier this month, the chief executive of the US' Delta, Ed Bastian, revealed that he was in discussions with ITA about potential joint ventures. As part of the deal between Rome and Brussels to enable the new airline to operate, state-owned ITA will start off with a total of 52 jets and

2,800 employees, markedly down from its predecessor's 110 planes and around 10,000 employees. ITA will begin by serving 44 destinations, rising to 75 by 2025. These include major European airport hubs like Paris Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow, as well as a dozen or so Italian cities. Tickets to transatlantic destinations in the US have already gone on sale. Alitalia, which during its peak carried celebrities, popes and prime ministers, made its final flight on Thursday night from Rome Fiumicino to Cagliari in Sardinia. The airline's demise has been met with fury from trade unions over job cuts and opposition politicians. The company has been facing financial problems for decades and has not posted a profit since the turn of the century. Several attempts were made to find a private buyer but after each one failed, Rome then took full control of the flailing airline during the Covid-19 pandemic - a time when the aviation sector was hit hard by strict travel restrictions to control the virus' spread. It was then that the decision was made to create ITA from Alitalia's ashes. While some of Alitalia's employees have found work at the new national carrier, some 7,000 were not, and their wages will continue to be paid by the state until at least 2022. Visit:

World's First Two-Seater Electric Race Car To Debut At COP26 by Ash Jones


he world's first all-electric two-seater race car is set to debut at the COP26 summit in Glasgow as part of a collaboration between Formula E team Envision Virgin and British chemicals and tech company Johnson Matthey. Constructed using the latter's nickel-rich eLNO battery technology that could see use in commercial all-electric and hybrid vehicles as early as 2024, the project was designed to show both parties' commitments to net-zero goals. Described as the "first full-size lithium-ion battery cells featuring a nickel-rich battery cathode", Johnson Matthey claims the battery has 20% increased energy density, charges faster and offers an "exceptional battery lifetime". The battery was reportedly specially designed for high-performance cars, such as those with the need of fast charging or long-range requirements, like a racing vehicle. The car is set to go on public exhibition from the first day of the COP26 summit - October 31. “As the world’s attention is on Glasgow, we are reminded that we have a global platform to showcase the true potential of electric vehicles as we compete in cities across the world", Envision 52 Industry Europe

Virgin's Chief Technology Officer, Sylvain Filippi said. "Our technology will transition from track to road as EVs are widely adopted and we believe that electric mobility is at the heart of the environmental transition we are witnessing today." The car will be unveiled at the summit's "Green Zone" for the public at large to see alongside a racing simulator designed using the new model in mind to allow attendees to compete against one another. The eLNO battery technology will be showcased at the event's "Blue Zone" to delegates of the 197 countries in attendance. As part of this, another Formula E racing vehicle, made entirely of plastic waste, is set to be unveiled in collaboration with Glasgow City Council and its "Together for Our Planet" campaign. This new car will be on display from November 1-7 at Glasgow’s Silverburn shop-

ping centre to engage the local community before being unveiled in the Blue Zone on November 10, which has been designated as the summit's "Transport Day". Further pushes towards sustainability have also been revealed, owing to what Johnson Matthey refers to as an "enhanced chemistry" for the cathode, which enables the use of higher nickel contents as well as a reduction in cobalt present, one of the more problematic materials in the development of electric car batteries. Already being trialled by consumers, the eLNO battery technology will be supplied to customers in Europe through two facilities: the first, in Poland, should finish construction in 2022 for rollout in 2024, while a second plant is currently being planned for Finland. "Our technology supports the industry's commitment to fighting climate change", said Christian Günther, the chief of Johnson Matthey's battery materials sector. “We are proud to have worked with Envision Virgin Racing to present eLNO in the exciting race car at the world’s biggest climate change event. It represents an important step towards high volume production of the technology in Europe within the next few years", he added. Visit:


INDUSTRYNEWS Gol To Bring Budget Electric Air Taxis To São Paulo by Ash Jones


razil's largest airliner Gol has revealed it will be launching a fleet of 250 eVTOL aircraft in São Paulo which could offer public transport cheaper than market competitors such as Uber. The deal is a result of a letter of agreement between the airliner and Irish leasing company Avolon which could see these new planes flying above the streets of Brazil's largest city by mid-2025. The companies will search together to provide partners to deliver on the necessary infrastructure and certification parameters that will need to be met in order to implement ride-sharing services within the city. The VA-X4 airliner looks like a miniature helicopter and the company claims it is the safest eVTOL aircraft of its type, which can reportedly

travel up to 321 km/h (200 mph) for a distance of 160 km (100 miles). The model was originally designed by UK-based company Vertical Aerospace. Back in June, Avolon managed to secure 500 units valued at $2 billion. The bill for implementation of the project will be footed by Brazilian investment firm Grupo Comporte. Avolon's CEO Dómnhal Slattery revealed this project had the potential to "reshape the commercial aviation market" in Brazil adding there were plenty of opportunities to deploy the aircraft. This project involves deploying half of the order the Irish company purchased from Vertical, he added, hinting at the potential for a global rollout of the aircraft.

Nissan And Envision's Sunderland Gigafactory Given Green Light by Ash Jones


apanese automaker Nissan and battery supplier Envision AESC, have been given the green light to build their electric vehicle gigafactory at the International Advanced Manufacturing Plant (IAMP) in Sunderland. Sunderland City Council's planning committee approved the plans on September 6 as part of a plan to turn the North East of England into a technological development hub. Originally announced in July and expected to initially operate at around 9 GWh at maximum capacity, the plant could create over 750 new jobs in the region, while protecting hundreds of existing jobs at Nissan's Sunderland plant, and may help the automaker bounce back from the chip shortage. It will also help give the company a head start for when the UK bans petrol and diesel vehicles at the end of the decade. As the result of a £1 billion partnership between the two companies, the factory will help produce a "next-generation" electric vehicle model for the EU market. Construction on the new wing is expected to begin in 2022 with battery production expected to commence in 2024.

São Paulo is the largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world and is home to 22 million people. Commercial aircraft could help to reduce road congestion taken up by transport which is common with such high population densities. "The VA-X4 is ideal for a city like São Paulo," Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace's CEO said in a statement. "Our [aircraft] will transform how we travel around high population density cities that are clogged with traffic by taking to the skies with zero-emissions aircraft." Visit:

Current estimates suggest the site may be able to manufacture batteries for over 100,000 EVs per year. Once complete, the site may also see further investment from the automaker totalling around £1.8 billion, bringing total capacity up to 35 GWh and up to 4,500 jobs by 2030, the companies claimed in a joint statement. Part of Nissan's endgame with the plant is to locally source car parts, eventually bringing down the price of EVs in the commercial market. The plant will also be powered by 100% renewable energy, the company claims, using a microgrid developed by Sunderland City Council while also deploying Internet of Things smart technologies to monitor and optimise energy use. ‘‘We are extremely pleased with today’s decision, which means we can get on with the important job of building the plant and recruitment to fully resource the project team", said Chris Caygill, the managing director of Envision's UK arm. He revealed the team were "immensely proud" of the work done thus far and hopes to "lay the foundations" for affordable EVs in the UK. Alan Johnson, the vice president for manufacturing at Nissan's Sunderland plant said: “We welcome the news that planning permission has been approved for Envision AESC’S new Gigafactory. “This is a fundamental part of our EV36Zero project, bringing together electric vehicle production, battery manufacturing and renewables, and we’re all excited to see the progress being made.” Sunderland Councillor Graeme Miller described the project as "hugely ambitious" and presented a huge opportunity for manufacturing in the area. The local council hope this will inspire job creation in the area and to turn the area into a hub of innovation. Councillor Tracey Dixon, the leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “This is a huge boost for the local economy, and indeed for UK Plc, part of a wider £1bn investment that will secure and create hundreds – thousands – of jobs. “This is what we hoped IAMP would deliver when we embarked on this partnership with Sunderland City Council, and so, seeing Envision AESC’s plans advance is a vindication of our commitment to this important job-creating site.” Visit: Industry Europe 53



New developments in the Transportation

Rolls-Royce To Go All-Electric By 2030 by Ash Jones


olls-Royce is set to switch its entire automotive brand to all-electric models by 2030, the company has revealed, becoming the latest luxury car brand to pledge towards electrification and decarbonisation. The announcement came following the unveiling of its latest model, the Rolls-Royce

Spectre, which will be the company's first allelectric car, set to hit the market in late 2023. The group's CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös described the unveiling as the most important event for the automakers since its founding in 1904. Testing for the vehicle is expected to be highly publicised and commence relatively soon. "With this new product we set out our credentials for the full electrification of our entire product portfolio by 2030", he added. Rolls-Royce will be sticking with its signature aluminium spaceframe for this latest model, which is also used in its Phantom and Cullinan models. Müller-Ötvös described this platform as "scalable and flexible", allowing for its use in a variety of models and parts. He also revealed the company's intention to cease selling new internal combustion engine

models by the decade's end, likely including hybrid models as well. This follows trends within the automotive sector, such as Audi, which has penned in 2026 as its deadline for a switch to an all-electric portfolio. Audi's parent company, Volkswagen, is also set to become the first major automaker in Germany to ban the use of petrol and diesel vehicles. It has set itself a goal of having 70% of its European models all-electric by 2030 after having previously set a date of 2026 for the shift to all-electric, with its luxury car brand, Bentley, being fully battery-electric by the same date. Other luxury car brands that have made pledges to push towards greater electrification include both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover, which have set dates for the switch to all-electric for 2030 and 2025, respectively. Visit:

Wabtec Unveils World's First Battery-Electric Freight Train by Ash Jones


ittsburgh-based transport company Wabtec has unveiled what it claims is the world's first 100% battery-electric freight train at an event in Pennsylvania, with the company having recently made its first sale. It showed off the newest prototype for the FLXdrive locomotive at Carnegie Mellon University as part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between itself and the institution to help decarbonise the US' railways and help deliver the 1.7 trillion tonnes of goods shipped each year. Developed with a $22.6 million (€19.19 million) grant from the California Air Resource Board, the locomotive is reportedly able to carry as much as 35,000 tonnes of iron ore while still reducing overall fuel consumption. The prototype present at the event was powered by around 500 lithium-ion battery modules and can allegedly travel at 75 mph on a 350-mile journey. While the primary purpose of this partnership is to invest in trains that run on alternative fuels, such as batteries, its ultimate end goal will be to use hydrogen fuel cells alongside investment in new signalling and digital technologies to increase rail network capacity, utilisation and safety across the US. “Pennsylvania has a long, proud history of railroads and railroad manufacturing," said Senator Bob Casey. “Transportation and economic development remain among my top priorities for our state and today's announcement places Pennsylvania at the centre to address climate change through transportation policy." Carnegie Mellon University's President Farnam Jahanian stated the "time was right" to accelerate the application of emerging technologies to transform the rail industry. He added: “Advances in digital technologies and artificial intelligence will revolutionise freight rail by driving dramatic improvements in safety and network capacity, while simultaneously increasing efficiency across the nation’s supply chain." 54 Industry Europe

Shortly after its unveiling, Wabtec made its first official sale for the train, which had been purchased by Australian miner Roy Hill for use at its rail network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Expected for delivery in 2023, this newest model is expected to run at an energy capacity of around 7MWh - nearly triple prior models of the train tested in the US. Based on the route and Roy Hill’s rail operations, the FLXdrive is anticipated to reduce the company’s fuel costs and emissions by more than 10% per train, the miner claims. Wendy McMillan, the regional senior Vice President for Wabtec's Australia and New Zealand arms described it as a "revolutionary technology" and displayed a "forward-thinking" attitude by the miner. "Roy Hill is pioneering new approaches to its operations that will benefit the company’s bottom line", she added. Wabtec has set itself a goal to deliver on "next-generation" zero-emission locomotives, both by introducing new models to the market and by repowering existing trains through battery-electric power, hydrogen internal combustion engines and hydrogen fuel cells. If successful, the company claims the locomotive and freighting sectors could save up to 300 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year. “Controlling emissions is critical in the fight against climate change,” Wabtec's President of Freight Rogerio Mendonca revealed. “The FLXdrive battery-electric locomotive is a bold step toward a low-to-zero-emission locomotive future. "We [will] continue working on solutions that cut the overall carbon footprint of the industries we serve through the development of low-emitting locomotives like the FLXdrive, and the use of alternative fuels such as biodiesel, renewable diesel and hydrogen," he added. Visit: