VOLUME 31/2 – 2021
SPECIM SPECTRAL IMAGING 25 YEARS AS HYPERSPECTRAL PIONEERS BUNGE PURSUING A SMART, SUSTAINABLE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN
A LASTING SOLUTION
TO PLASTIC POLLUTION
Keep the Change T
hose of you who have been familiar with this publication for some of the 30 years that it has been in existence, will probably have noticed a few changes in recent times. When I took over the position as Editor a little over two years ago, I found a company that was losing its place in the world. A sense of despondent complacency had set in amongst the “downstairs” staff – that being all of us except the boss, who had his own floor above us. Upstairs, there was a frustration that things were not chugging along as they always had. Whereas downstairs, on the front line, it had become apparent that the business model, which worked like a dream back in the mid-nineties, wouldn’t be sustainable for very much longer. The company had long been held back by its owner who seemed, almost ideologically, to prefer the status quo to new ideas. The status quo, in this case, involved a lot of sales. On the phones. Like in 1999. The former owner’s priorities were made apparent by the fact that this was a magazine with an editorial team consisting of one person, and a sales team of around seven. Advertising space was prioritised over writing and journalism. This unusual writer to salesperson ratio appeared to be born out of a genuinely held belief in certain economic principles, as well as a deep-rooted suspicion of anything that appeared too “lefty” – a definition which included most things environmental as well as any criticism of the corporations and industries that were doing things that they shouldn’t be, not to mention writers themselves. Despite efforts by myself and my colleagues to explain that there was not one but two transformations happening simultaneously, the old guard found it difficult to get on board. It was assumed that all this green nonsense was a passing fad, and that the company had already completed its own digital transition when it got its own website – in 2003. To my mind, the company was experiencing a micro version of what I’d previously seen
happening on a macro scale. An inflexible old guard, which had gotten wealthy from the old ways, tenaciously holding on, and acting, albeit unwittingly, as an obstacle to the changes that needed to be made. I use the word ‘unwittingly’, because of course, they genuinely and sincerely believed that they were acting as a bulwark. The last defence against some Green-meets-Red, Soviet-style future, where eco-authoritarian leaders, driven by the politics of envy and of fear and enabled by handwringing, tree-hugging, do-gooders take power, ultimately eroding civil liberties, destroying the economy, and punishing the wealthy.
Rip it up and start again When the change came, it came suddenly. One strange summer morning, about six months into my tenure here, it was announced that we no longer had jobs and the company was closing its doors. While the news hit hard for our small team, it transpired to be the necessary catalyst to make the changes we needed to. With a new, younger, more open-minded ownership taking over the helm, Industry Europe was now free to cover the stories that mattered. Although this also meant that we then had the task of rehauling the entire publication, both online and in print. It’s been a slow, sometimes shaky, but incredibly worthwhile process, which at times felt like we were turning around a massive container ship in a narrow waterway. But now at least, Industry Europe is facing in the direction that we want it to go in. In fact, once again, our story is a micro version of a much bigger trend: Companies hastily but definitively changing their ways, driven by fear of climate change and the increasingly strict government regulations that try to combat it. Despite the misgivings of our old leader, Industry Europe does not represent a leftor right-wing perspective. We stand for businesses and industries that are doing their best to clean up their acts in terms of
emissions and pollution. We do not stand for mere lip service. We stand by companies and investors who put their money where their morals are. We don’t stand for hypocrisy, nepotism, or vacuous PR speak. We stand for transparency in terms of the way employees and host communities are treated. We don’t stand for human rights abuses along any link of the value chain. When we punch, we do it upwards – if a company, especially a giant multinational, is doing something unethical or illegal, it’s our job to report it. It’s also our job to champion those firms which are lighting the way forward, as well as keeping an eye on the stragglers at the back. And it’s our job to report on the governments and politicians that are not making the cut, as well as those that are taking a cut for themselves. Of course, it’s not a case of good vs. bad. Our world is far too complicated for that, especially at this point in history. The low-level rumblings that threatened to become crises towards the end of the last century - namely climate change and social inequality - are coming to a head at the same time as a brand-new crisis emerges in the form of Covid-19, while simultaneously the fourth industrial revolution is bringing technological innovation at a speed never before witnessed. Add to this heady mix the lengthy tragicomedy of Brexit – itself a manifestation of a polarised world which has only served to further muddy the waters - and the perfect storm is upon us, providing pertinent parallels between the trajectories of our publication and our planet. All together it creates a dizzying and exciting - if sometimes slightly overwhelming - situation for all of us. As Industry Europe enters a new era, just as our world is doing, our mission is to keep our eyes on the major developments and technological breakthroughs, to do our bit to help get through these changing and challenging times. While nobody is expecting anything like a utopia, there is a chance that the world we are presented with once the dust has settled is a cleaner and fairer place. n Industry Europe 3
Editorial Keep the Change
Focus on Circular Economy 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
A lasting solution to plastic pollution Mura Technology
Less is more BASF
Focus on Aerospace & Defence 12
The startup snapping at SpaceX's heels OHB
Focus on Technology & Innovation 14
A $500m pledge for gender diversity Intel
Aerospace & Defence Sector Managers Oliver Clements Michael Hudson Szidonia Hajdu
Aerospace & Defence news The latest developments in the sector
Chemicals & Biochemicals 20 24
Leading brand in speciality chemicals Atotech Chemicals & Biochemicals news The latest developments in the sector
Construction & Engineering 26
Art Director Leon Esterhuizen
Construction & Engineering news The latest developments in the sector
Consumer Goods 30 34 38
Making a Difference Ontex Smart and Sustainable Bunge Consumer Goods news The latest developments in the sector
Energy & Utilities Industry Europe
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48 Aluminium in all forms Profilglass 52 Successful commissioning of automotive Cutting Lines at Profilglass Salico 54 Significant role in mineral compounds Magnesia 56 Metals & Mining news The latest developments in the sector
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FOCUS ON – CIRCULAR ECONOMY
AN INNOVATIVE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF PLASTIC WASTE Industry Europe's Steve Gislam Speaks To Dr Steve Mahon, CEO Of Mura Technology, The Company Behind A Simple But Innovative Tech That Could Be A Lasting And Sustainable Solution To The EverGrowing Plastic Waste Problem.
he problem of plastic waste is rapidly growing – quite literally in some parts of the world - into a crisis. An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the oceans every year and only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled globally.
The problem has become so large that there is now an estimated 1.6 million km² (617,800 miles²) island of it floating in the Pacific Ocean. Put into context, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is slightly bigger than Mongolia. If it were a country, it would
be in the top twenty largest. As well as an environmental threat, global plastic waste as a whole also represents a lost resource of around $80 billion every year. Industry Europe 5
FOCUS ON – CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Necessity is said to be the mother of invention and an unsustainable situation represents an undeniable necessity. Most plastic recycling is done at present using mechanical methods, which are energy-intensive and hampered by problems with collection, sorting and contamination, often leading to an overall degradation in quality, and why the process is often referred to as ‘down-cycling’. Add to this situation, the increasing consumer awareness of the environmental damage caused by single-use plastics, with the voices calling for alternatives growing everlouder and you have something of a perfect storm brewing for the chemicals industry. However, it’s one that can be avoided, says Dr Steve Mahon, CEO of UK-based Mura Technology, if the sector acts now. “Consumers these days are more aware, and they simply don’t want plastic waste ending up in the environment,” he said. “Plastic, as a material, has many great properties, but we need better ways of recycling it. It’s important that the chemical
6 Industry Europe
industry is proactive in this because consumers won’t give them a social mandate to continue for much longer. Now is the time.” Mura is the company behind the Catalytic Hydrothermal Reactor, or Cat-HTR - a groundbreaking technology that could well be the game-changer Dr Mahon says the sector needs. Providing a chemicalbased solution to a chemical-based problem, Cat-HTR uses supercritical steam - water at an elevated temperature and pressure - to convert plastics back into the chemicals and oils from which they were made. The supercritical steam acts like molecular scissors, cutting the longer-chain hydrocarbon bonds in the plastics to produce shorter-chain hydrocarbons – asgood-as-new product, and the equivalent of fossil-sourced hydrocarbons – in under 30 minutes. These are then ready to be used to create new, virgin-grade plastics and other materials, with no limit to the number of times the same material can be processed.
What makes Mura’s process especially interesting is its ability to recycle nearly all forms of waste plastic, including many that are considered unrecyclable. “If you were to put 100% plastic in the front end, you’ll get over 99% product hydrocarbons, gases and so on – out the other end. It has a very high conversion rate of plastic into usable product. It’s a very clean, efficient process,” explains Mahon. “However, the reality is, when working with waste material there’s always contamination. You never have 100% plastic going in. There will also be paper, food, pieces of metal, stones and so on. With this process the inorganic materials simply pass through untouched whilst the organic materials like paper and food, which crack at a lower temperature than plastic, are converted into gas. We then use that gas in the boiler to create the supercritical steam.” The main form of plastic that poses a problem is PVC, due to its chlorine content. The chemical becomes hydrochloric acid
Dr Steve Mahon, CEO, Mura Technology
and due to its high corrosivity, it needs a certain kind of pipe metallurgy as well as some post-treatment. “But it’s something we’ll keep an eye on. In theory we can deal with it, but it’s slightly more complicated. Plus, you don’t get much PVC in consumer waste.” “But generally, we want to take the materials that the mechanical recycling industry can’t recycle, like post-consumer plastic packaging. Otherwise, it ends up being burned or sent to landfills on the other side of the world. Which is pretty appalling. Exporting our pollution to poorer countries cannot be the way forward, and it is increasingly being sent back.” In January 2018, China dropped a bombshell for the waste sector when it announced a ban on all trash imports. Until 2016, the country had taken around two-thirds of global plastic waste, with much of the rest going to other countries in the region. The Chinese decision was the spark that led a host of other countries in the region – the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and others – to adopt similar policies. In January 2020, Malaysia announced that it was returning 150 containers of plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries. The
Former Malaysian Environment Minister, Yeo Bee Yin
country’s then environment minister Yeo Bee Yin seemed to articulate the feeling in the region when she bluntly told the media: “We just want to give a message that Malaysia is not the dumping site of the world.” With plenty of plastic waste heading back to Europe, the recycling industry will have plenty to work with. Which brings us to another of Mura’s technology qualities. Unlike mechanical recycling techniques, for Mura it is relatively easy to upscale, precisely due to its use of water. “Many other processes use heat, which acts like a sledgehammer. They put loads of energy in, break it apart into individual molecules then condense them back together. “We do it differently. We apply heat to the plastic to melt it down, then, we mix the supercritical steam in with the molten plastic, heating from the inside out. Other tech does it from the outside in, like cooking in a pan. This is hard to scale up because as you make it bigger, it’s harder to transfer the heat from the outside to the inside and have everything at a homogeneous temperature. When you inject water in, however, it imparts the energy and gives much better control over the reaction. Water is the key.”
Cat-HTR. Credit: Mura Technology
Earlier this month, Mura announced that they had entered into a partnership with Texas-based process engineering giant KBR, to support the global development of Mura’s technology and allow it to be upscaled. “The KBR partnership is big, and it would be easy to underestimate the impact of it”, said Mahon.” It’s a big name in the petrochemical industry and they have a worldwide presence with a top tier engineering track record. They are a great partner to help us expand quickly.” “Advanced recycling – also called chemical recycling – is still at an early stage. Nobody has 20 years of operational experience and there are just a handful of small companies operating small plants. We want to move it to the next stage and roll-out millions of tonnes of recycling capacity. KBR has the kind of existing infrastructure that few others can bring to the table.” On top of an 80,000-tonne annual capacity facility in Teesside, Northern England currently under development, Mura is looking at opportunities further afield in the US, Asia, and Germany. The latter Dr Mahon said he found to be “a more conducive environment for innovation” than many places in Europe, as well as having well-established chemical and waste sectors, and transport infrastructure. The present aim is to see one million tonnes of plastic waste processed annually, though Dr Mahon says that number is “by no means the end of it. But it’s a meaningful goal.” In a perfect world, with this kind of tech, could the manufacture of new plastics be uncoupled from the extraction of fossil fuels? “It’s possible, yes. Will we ever get there? Not for a while, but theoretically we could,” he said. “And let’s be honest, we don’t have ten or twenty years to let this happen in an organic fashion. We have to really try and n change things fast.” By Steve Gislam For more information, visit: www.muratechnology.com
Cat-HTR process flow. Credit: Mura Technology Industry Europe 7
LESS IS MORE Reduction of waste and greenhouse gas emissions
All Images supplied by: BASF SE
ircular economy means decoupling growth from resource consumption. BASF aims at moving towards a circular economy, among others, by increasingly using recycled and renewable feedstocks. Made from these two new circular feedstocks, BASF now also offers plasticizers.
network at the beginning of the value chain and then allocated to selected sales products according to a third-party certified mass balance approach. These sales products carry the name suffix “Ccycled™”. BASF now offers its trusted non-phthalate plasticizer Hexamoll® DINCH also as Hexamoll® DINCH CcycledTM.
Plasticizers made from chemically recycled plastic waste
Plasticizers made from renewable raw materials
With its ChemCycling™ project, BASF is aiming to manufacture products from chemically recycled plastic waste on an industrial scale. BASF cooperates with partners, who use a thermochemical process called pyrolysis to transform plastic waste into a secondary raw material - pyrolysis oil. This oil is fed into BASF’s production
Another method is the so-called biomass balance (BMB) approach. Here, renewable raw materials such as bio-naphtha or biogas derived from organic waste or vegetable oils are fed in at the beginning of BASF’s production network and are allocated to certain sales products according to a third-party certified mass balance
8 Industry Europe
approach. These biomass balanced chemicals save fossil resources and reduce CO2 emissions at the same time. The plasticizer portfolio of BASF includes the following biomass balance products: Hexamoll® DINCH BMB, Palatinol® N BMB (DINP), Palatinol® 10-P BMB (DPHP), Plastomoll® DOA BMB (DOA/ DEHA).
The mass balance principle is similar to that of green electricity Here, too, consumers cannot be certain that the electricity they use in their homes was generated from renewable energy sources. However, they can be sure that the share of green energy in the overall electricity grid increases due to their decision to purchase it.
Sustainable success with little effort Besides saving fossil raw materials and decreasing CO2 emissions by using either recycled or bio-based feestock, the two approaches
All new plasticizers can be transported, stored and even processed together with the regular plasticizers. That way, it is easy to launch special sustainable editions of typical PVC consumer products such as flooring or wallpaper.
have another advantage for manufacturers: the products have the same specifications and technical properties as the regular plasticizers. Therefore, neither sampling nor additional release testing for these plasticizers is necessary. Transportation and warehousing can also be done together with the regular plasticizers. That way, it takes little effort to switch production or to manufacture special editions. The new plasticizer portfolio goes hand in hand with the goals of VinylPlus®, the sustainability program of the European PVC industry. As a member of European Plasticizers, BASF actively supports VinylPlus® and is committed to the sustainable use of plasticizers and soft PVC. You can find further information on the new plasticizer portfolio on the BASF website: www.plasticiziers.basf.com
By introducing the new plasticizers of the Biomass Balance and ChemCyclingTM portfolio, BASF helps to save fossil raw materials and contributes to the reduction of plastic waste and to the use of renewable raw materials. Those are compelling characteristics for many end-consumer applications today. Industry Europe 9
The plasticizers of the Biomass Balance and ChemCyclingTM portfolio have the same product properties as the regular plasticizers but have a lower CO2 footprint. Therefore, they can be used as sustainable alternative in already established customer formulations, such as Hexamoll® DINCH in children’s toys.
Interview with Diana Brunnenkant, Head of Commercial Marketing Plasticizers Europe, BASF SE:
What systems does BASF have in place to increasingly use recycled and renewable feedstocks? We at BASF aim to move towards a more Circular Economy, thus making the most of the limited resources of our planet. We have therefore launched a new Circular Economy Program. By the year 2030, BASF aims to double its sales generated with solutions for the Circular Economy to €17 billion. To achieve this, we are concentrating on three action areas: circular feedstocks, new material cycles and new business models. Circular feedstocks comprise of recycled as well as renewable feedstocks. We expect that 250,000 metric tonnes of feedstock will come from recycled sources by 2025. Regarding renewable raw materials, we already use around 1.2 million metric tonnes annually and we want to increase this further in the future. Two of the main contributors will be the ChemCyclingTM project and the Biomass Balance approach (BMB).
Which of these approaches do you apply in the plasticizer business? Plasticizers are mostly used in flexible PVC articles in many different applications, ranging from industrial to consumer products. As we serve so many different industries, we decided to offer plasticizers based on both concepts, ChemCyclingTM as well as Biomass Balance, and therewith to meet the different needs of our various customers.
What is the ratio of Biomass Balance and CcycledTM plasticizers? Are both approaches given the same focus and what are the individual advantages? In the plasticizer business, we focus on both concepts equally as both serve different target groups and show different advantages. In the production of biomass balanced plasticizers, bio-naphtha or biogas is used instead of fossil resources. Biomass balanced plasticizers have a lower carbon footprint than the conventional ones and help save fossil resources. 10 Industry Europe
In the manufacturing process of the CcycledTM plasticizers, we use pyrolysis oil obtained from previously non-recycled plastic waste instead of fossil resources. The resulting products contribute to the recycling of plastic waste and the substitution of fossil feedstock.
Where do you see the biggest demand coming from (sector-wise, and geography-wise)? From a geographical point of view, we currently see a strong pull from the European market as political regulations as well as consumer demands are increasingly focusing on sustainability. At the same time, we also see a rising interest from other regions, e.g. Asia, where sustainability topics gain in importance. From a segment point of view, we currently see strong interest coming from industries that produce sensitive applications or that are close to end-consumers. In general, there is high interest in these solutions, both to keep up with political developments and to differentiate from the competition.
Has BASF made any investment to support the use of recycled and renewable feedstocks? Indeed, we are highly committed to this topic, as you can see in particular by the investments made as part of the ChemCyclingTM project. So far, BASF invested €36 million – thereof, we invested €20 million into Quantafuel, a specialist for pyrolysis of mixed plastic waste and purification of pyrolysis oil, headquartered in Oslo, Norway. Furthermore, BASF invested €16 million into Pyrum Innovations AG, a technology company specialised in the pyrolysis of end-of-life n tyres, headquartered in Dillingen/Saar, Germany.
FOCUS ON – AEROSPACE & DEFENCE
GERMAN AEROSPACE STARTUP RFA OFFERS STIFF COMPETITION FOR SPACEX Munich-based aerospace company OHB has laid out plans to build a rocket that can transport satellites into Earth’s orbit far cheaper than its competitors in order to be able to corner a future market.
rom 2030 onwards the team hopes to be launching their rockets from platforms in the North Sea or the Azores on a weekly schedule. Done through the company’s new startup, Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), the company hopes to offer a cheaper and more efficient service than its US counterparts, such as SpaceX. With take-off costs of around $3 million (€2.48 million), RFA offers its services for
12 Industry Europe
significantly below the global going rate. The cost per kilogram of payload equated to roughly $2,500, coming in at three-to-four times less than its main rivals. The new startup has recently gone through a round of financing, which was announced at a press conference on Thursday. The aim of the fundraiser is to garner $25 million (€20.6 million) in new capital. “We want to build the best and cheapest rockets and micro launcher,” said
founding investor Hans Steininger in a video conference. In the meantime, the startup has begun building prototypes of its engine and is determined to make swift progress to corner market shares. Small and inexpensive vehicles currently play a large role in the use of space for private services providers. “New space” - the scramble for the commercialisation of spaceflight and tourism -
has opened up a billion-dollar market which is attracting more and more investors. Venture capital funds worldwide invested a record $15.7 billion in 252 space companies in 2020, of which $9.4 billion went to US companies. The Augsberg startup currently employs 90 people and belongs to a group of three startups looking to expand into the spaceflight market. They are hardly alone in their quest, with dozens of similar startups across the globe engaging in similar projects and are one of three similar businesses in Germany alone. Marco Fuchs, CEO of OHB, said: “We do not want to leave this lucrative market to US companies. That is why we have set up the Rocket Factory with two young space enthusiasts and given the new company a major boost in the form of expertise and capital. We will be able to maximise the cost advantages of series production because we will be building rockets just like cars.
Due to the very high demand for investment opportunities in this promising market, we are now opening up the possibility for further selected investors to participate in the growth of the Rocket Factory.” Investors and officials involved in RFA claim its new technology remains cheap, clean, and makes use of superior engine technology and works with levels of precision that leave its competitors behind. Jörn Spurmann, COO of RFA, said: “We offer a delivery service for the last mile. Unlike many others, we deliver satellites to different orbits with pinpoint accuracy using our unique orbital stage. This creates cost advantages. And because we also produce at the lowest cost, we create unrivalled value for money. The goal of 50 take-offs per year by 2030 remains RFA’s top priority, equating to nearly one per week. The startup hopes to begin launching in late 2022 to early 2023 and will attempt to gain 20 to 30 take-offs per year in its initial phase.
The RFA rocket has nine engines in the first three stages and can carry up to 1,300 kg into space. The rocket is supposed to deliver the satellites with pinpoint accuracy. “With the staged combustion technology, we are a technological trendsetter because it is more powerful, more efficient and cleaner than most launch vehicles currently on the market,” Dr. Stefan Brieschenk, Chief Operations Officer at RFA said. OHB was formed 40 years ago and has been listed on the stock exchange for 20. The group recorded over $1 billion (€825 million) in sales for 2020 and saw continued growth despite the pandemic. However, the company recently suffered a setback when it was not considered for a further contract supplying Galileo satellites for the European Union. The €1.21 billion deal was instead handed to rivals Airbus and Thales Alenia Space. n By Ash Jones, Visit: www.ohb.de
Industry Europe 13
FOCUS ON – TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
INTEL PLEDGES $500 MILLION TOWARDS WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES For International Women’s Day 2021, USbased tech company Intel pledged $500 million (€420.3 million) in funding towards diversifying its supply chain by including women and other underrepresented minorities by the end of 2025 and working towards goals of sustainability. Megan Stowe – Global Strategic Sourcing manager - HR at Intel Corp UK 14 Industry Europe
oming as part of WEConnect International’s Rise2theChallenge campaign which commenced on March 8, it sees a conglomeration of more than 110 multinational organisations coming together to set targets for advancing opportunities for women-owned businesses around the world. The campaign encourages these organisations to publicly commit spending or a project to help advance these opportunities for women around the world. Within both the corporate and government spheres, the average funding allocation towards women or minority-led companies sits at around 1% of the total supply budget. In the US alone, women-led businesses account for nearly 30% of all companies, according to one report. According to official data from the Treasury, one-in-three entrepreneurs in the UK are female, which represents a gender gap encompassing roughly 1.1 million companies. Within its own sphere, Intel has the Responsible Inclusive Sustainable and Enabling biotechnology and people (RISE) programme, which looks to double the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior positions within the company. “As a personal goal, I want to inspire and make a difference to other women,” says Intel’s director for channel products and strategic sourcing, and the head of its International Supplier Diversity Programme, Megan Stowe. Stowe is currently involved in a number of DNI programmes within Intel, which actively seek to empower and train women to help them move up the company’s ranks. “Supply chain diversity is about more than just diversifying your supply chain with small and medium businesses. It’s really about making an impact and opening those doors to those who may be part of an ethnic minority or women-owned business and driving that programme forward because it directly impacts economic empowerment,” she added. According to a study released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), reducing the gender gap in labour participation could stand to increase global GDP by $5.3 trillion (€4.86 billion) by 2025. The report claims the economic impacts of closing the participation gap could also increase tax revenue by almost $1.4 trillion, which hints at the potential self-financing effects of plugging the gap.
Gaps in equality are bad for business from both a consumer and supply pointof-view, as excluding a particular market may also disincentivise potential consumer groups from investing in a particular firm. “Optics,” as this is known, also plays a large role in the public consciousness. In 2014, G20 leaders devised the “25 by 25” scheme - a commitment to reducing the gender participation gap by 25% by 2025. The effects the gap could have on women would also be seen beyond their personal professional lives by also having economic benefits as well as on their personal welfare. Stowe said: “There are huge opportunities for us to put investment into womenowned businesses or diverse suppliers and understanding that market and giving them that opportunity to win the business, which, in turn, gives us a competitive edge. “We work all over the world. We focus on our top countries and we are currently operating in 24 countries outside of the US in places such as Asia, parts of Europe, Israel and the like. We rely on country leads and champions to help drive the business in those areas.” She added there were problems in various areas, such as when looking to invest in businesses run by disabled people - which often overlaps with medical needs, which may be an invasion of privacy - or looking into businesses led by LGBTQ+ individuals, which is a comparatively fledgeling sector. “I like to think women bring a different perspective to the workplace,” she added. “It’s very important in the Big Tech world that we’re transparent with one another and it’s very important to show women and girls that there are career paths and opportunities for them within these companies.” A number of tech companies are working on metrics, such as a Diversity Index in order to help measure the progress companies are making in terms of equality and diversity
in senior positions which also help to gauge technology, accessibility and equal pay. The natural march of progress dictates the world will become more “tolerant” and equal by default as each generation succeeds the previous one and are more likely to embrace change. It is likely the landscape will shift over the next few decades and will see workplaces transform and be far more evenly-distributed from our current norms. Stowe believes role models in the workplace is a good starting point to encourage women into fields they normally wouldn’t consider for viable career options. She said: “I believe education and school can play a big role if they adapt some of the ways they teach - perhaps looking at things more holistically - and encouraging problem solving and hands-on experience. I think it’s really promoting where science fits into every aspect of life. “Companies can and should also continue driving their community and volunteering programmes in schools. It is vital for companies to be very proactive with these shifts and helping to improve the talent pipeline and retention rates. “One thing that is key is the fact that companies don’t need to do all the direct investment on their part. It may be vital for key companies to ask their suppliers to drive those programmes across the supply chain.” Intel operates a very strong “Tier 2” programme which stipulates in its terms and conditions to fill out supplier management support cards to let other suppliers and companies know what steps they are taking. In some instances, the tech giant stipulates that a percentage of the funding granted must be spent on diverse suppliers, which could have an impact on the retention n rates of supplier diversity. By Ash Jones, Visit: www.weconnectinternational.org Industry Europe 15
New developments in the Aerospace & Defence
EU & US To Suspend Tariffs In Long-Running Airbus-Boeing Feud by Steven Gislam
he EU and US have agreed to a four-month suspension of punitive tariffs imposed as part of the long-running feud over aircraft subsidies. The move is being hailed as a breakthrough in the 16-year-old battle over state subsidies to Airbus and Boeing, and the first sign that transatlantic trade relations are warming since President Joe Biden took office. The deal was announced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a statement following a call with the US President. “President Biden and I agreed to suspend all our tariffs imposed in the context of the Airbus-Boeing disputes, both on aircraft and non-aircraft products, for an initial period of four months,” the statement said. “We both committed to focus on resolving our aircraft disputes, based on the work our respective trade representatives.” Duties imposed as part of the dispute have been wide-ranging and punitive, covering an array of products well-beyond the aerospace sector such as French wine, and US ornamental fish. Intended more of a symbolic gesture of goodwill, the announcement was intended to pave the way for negotiations for a permanent solution by setting joint rules on acceptable aircraft subsidies. The US trade representative’s office said that a permanent agreement was necessary to deal with challenges posed by new and rising players in the aircraft sector, predominantly China. One of Beijing’s long-running priorities
has been to break the transatlantic duopoly that has dominated the sector for decades. It added that any deal between the US and EU would include limits on future subsidies and accompanying enforcement mechanisms. The announcement was made one day after a similar arrangement was reached between the US and UK whereby Washington agreed to suspend tariffs linked to the dispute. The UK had already unilaterally stopped tariffs at the start of the year. Officials had been questioning whether or not it would have been legal for the country to continue with tariffs given its exit from the European single market. In November, Brussels imposed extra tariffs on $4 billion of US products such as fitness machines, casino tables and sugarcane molasses. At that point, the US had imposed tariffs on $7.5 billion of European goods as a result of a WTO ruling on the bloc’s subsidies to Airbus. Brussels will see the suspension as a sign that relations with Washington are beginning to normalise following the tensions of the Trump era, which at times seemed ready to spill over into a full-scale trade war. The Airbus-Boeing dispute is one of the longest-running cases in WTO history and both
sides have been found to have properly adhered to WTO rulings on illegal subsidies. The feud began in 2004, a year after Airbus overtook Boeing in terms of delivery numbers for the first time. The US made the case that an earlier agreement with the EU on state aid, which was brokered in 1992, had been breached, claiming that Airbus received $22 billion in illegal funding. A few months later, Brussels retaliated with a legal challenge of its own, arguing that $23 billion had been given to Boeing. Since then, both sides have remained far apart on the terms of any agreement on how to fund new the development of new aircraft. With both Airbus and Boeing focused on recovering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and a hiatus in new commercial aircraft development, industry experts said the timing was right. The deal will come as a relief to aircraft manufacturers and other businesses on both sides of the Atlantic. French wine producers and Italian cheesemakers have been among the loudest voices calling for an end to the dispute. The spirits industry has also been among the US sectors strongly urging a solution. Airbus welcomed the decision to suspend tariffs. The company said it supports “all necessary actions to create a level-playing field and continues to support a negotiated settlement of this longstanding dispute to avoid lose-lose tariffs.” Boeing said it hopes the deal would allow for talks to “bring a level playing field to this industry.” More info, visit: www.ec.europa.eu
SIPRI Report Finds US Largest Arms Exporter, Saudi Largest Importer
new report published yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has found that the US accounted for 37% of global arms sales in the period 2016-2020, selling weapons to 96 countries. Half of the total sales went to the Middle East. The report also found that exports increased by 15% when compared with 2011-2015. In the period 2016-2020, international arms deliveries were flat, marking the first time since 2001-2005 that arms deliveries between countries did not increase from the previous five year period. Three of the world’s biggest exporters - the US, Germany and France - increased deliveries but falls in exports from Russia and China offset that rise, SIPRI said. Russia is the world’s second-largest exporter of arms, in terms of volume with France coming in third, the report found. 16 Industry Europe
The Middle Eastern nations accounted for that largest increase in arms imports - up 25% from 2011-2015. The world’s biggest importer of arms, Saudi Arabia, increased imports by 61%, with Qatar increasing by 361% SIPRI said that it was too soon to know whether the Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on the slowdown of arms deliveries. “The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could see some countries reassessing their arms imports in the coming years. However, at the same time, even at the height of the pandemic in 2020, several countries signed large contracts for major arms,” said Siemon Wezeman, a researcher at SIPRI. Visit: www. sipri.org
AEROSPACE & DEFENCE NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Skyrora Receives ESA Funding
For Satellite Launches by Steven Gislam
K-based space company Skyrora is looking set to become the first British company to launch satellites from Europe following the receipt of £3 million (€3.5 million) in European Space Agency (ESA) funding. Part of the ESA’s Boost! programme, the funding will be used by the Edinburgh company to complete the development of technology to deliver orbital launches using its XL launch vehicle. The 56 tonne, 23-metre Skyrora XL is capable of delivering a payload of up to 315kg into orbit and is scheduled to be test-launched from a UK spaceport in 2022. “We draw huge inspiration from the British engineers who led the way on the Black Arrow programme, and we are thrilled to be advancing their pioneering work at Skyrora for the benefit of the UK,” said Dr Jack-James Marlow, head of engineering for Skyrora. The project looks set to create as many as 170 jobs in the UK and to deliver a more environmentally-friendly launch with Skyrora’s eco-fuel, Ecosene. Skyrora is also believed to have conducted several trials of its Space Tug - a solution for clearing space debris and defunct satellites from orbit. Volodymyr Levykin, founder and CEO of Skyrora, said: “I am delighted that the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency support our programme, which has, to date, delivered outstanding achievements: four
successful launches, with two more ready for launch; the establishment of manufacturing and engine test facilities throughout Scotland; and the static fire test of our orbital third stage. “ESA’s funding will allow us to complete the set-up of our larger Engine Test Complex, complete our 70kN engine programme and static fire testfire the first and second stages of Skyrora XL.” “This is great news for Skyrora as it takes another major step in bringing green small satellite launch capability to Scotland,” added Ivan McKee MSP, trade and innovation minister. More info, visit: www.skyrora.com
Rolls-Royce Suffers £4bn Loss For 2020 by Ash Jones
olls-Royce has suffered its worst losses on record owing to the coronavirus pandemic’s ravaging of the travel sector though the company did manage to stick to its forecast of minimising cash loss throughout the year. The engine company burned through £4.2 billion (€4.89 billion) as revenues for its airliners crashed. The company expects to lose a further £2 billion for 2021 as it may be a while before the sector bounces back from the pandemic. Rolls-Royce was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, as its primary source of revenue comes from supplying engines to passenger jets, which saw a significant decline during the crisis. The company’s civil aerospace arm usually makes up nearly half of its revenue, seeing £8 billion (€9.3 billion) in operating profits for 2019, shrinking to £5 billion in 2020. On an underlying pre-tax basis, Rolls-Royce lost £4 billion (€4.6 billion) compared with a profit of £583 million the year before - far exceeding the £3.1 billion loss forecast by analysts.
Losses before taxes were £2.9 billion (€3.38 billion) for 2020, including £1.2 billion in writeoffs and nearly £500 million in redundancies. On Thursday the engine company announced that, despite its losses, its liquidity position remains strong and it should be able to cope with severe pitfalls. Rolls-Royce initiated a number of costcutting techniques for the pandemic, including cutting 7,000 of its 19,000 jobs in its civil aerospace division. It also shut down factories for two weeks during the summer in a bid to save more money. The company is also planning to sell £2 billion worth of assets in order to deal with the £5.2 billion (€6.06 billion) in debt it took on last year. However, this plan has run into some hitches after Norway suspended the sale of Rolls-Royce’s Norwegian unit, Bergen Engines. The engine developer saw active airtime for 2020 plummet, with the hours flown by planes with Rolls-Royce engines slumping to 43% of 2019 numbers. Bounce-back for 2021 is
expected to be gradual, and the company is anticipating a peak of 55% on 2019 numbers for the year. The company previously warned of the danger of new virus strains, and doesn’t expect capacity to return to normal until beyond 2022. It has also warned that deliveries of its engines are not expected to see significant returns for “a few years” at least. Rolls-Royce has announced their January 2021 earnings report is expected to be worse than anticipated, owing to the tightening of lockdown restrictions over the Christmas period. It is expected to burn through even more cash for at least the first half of the year. For more, visit: www.rolls-royce.com
Industry Europe 17
New developments in Aerospace & Defence
Heckler & Koch Must Pay For Illegal Mexican Arms Sales, Says Top German Court by Steven Gislam
he German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has upheld a lower court decision from 2019 that found that some employees at arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch (H&K) had knowingly falsified information concerning the nature and destination of weapons the company had sold in order to obtain export licences. In 2019, Stuttgart’s District Court ruled that two employees of H&K had broken federal law through their failure to declare the actual destination of weapons sold by the company in the end-use statements. The two individuals received 17 and 22-month suspended sentences, and three other employees were found not guilty. In addition, the Court ordered the confiscation of revenues connected with the sale, totalling €3.7 million. This week’s ruling upheld the verdict of the lower court against the two individuals and the confiscation of any money connected with the illegal sale. The export licences gave H&K permission to export large quantities of weapons - predominantly more than 4,200 G36 assault rifles - and
component parts to Mexico’s central purchasing body. The guns were then sold to police departments, many of which are in states with poor records on human rights. The case reached Germany’s highest criminal court on appeal by both the prosecution and the defence lawyers. The prosecution attorneys were seeking tougher penalties, whereas lawyers working for the defendants - one of whom died in 2015 and the other now lives in Mexico, claiming to be too ill to travel - were seeking acquittal. Initially, the BGH has ordered H&K to pay €3 million of the original €3.7 million while it reviews issues related to statutes of limitations on the remaining €700,000. However, a recent and separate Federal Constitutional Court decision on the issue suggests that the arms company will be made to pay the full sum ultimately. Visit: www.heckler-koch.com
KLM Operates World’s First Flight With Synthetic Fuel by Ash Jones
utch airliner KLM has successfully operated the world’s first flight using synthetic kerosene, carrying passengers from Amsterdam to Madrid, according to both the Netherlands’ government and the airliner. The aviation industry is one of the leading causes of air pollution and one of the largest users of traditional fossil fuels, leading to movements calling for more sustainable models as governments and private companies set themselves strict climate goals in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The Netherlands is one of the world leaders in developing sustainable biofuels and many leading players have set themselves the goal of making the entirety of Europe’s airliners carbonneutral by 2050.
18 Industry Europe
Sustainable fuels could possibly be one of the primary methods of driving an overall reduction in emissions in the sector. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management said: “Making aviation more sustainable is an international challenge that we face together. Today we are taking a great step in the new chapter of aviation. This promising innovation will be of great importance in the coming decades to reduce CO2 emissions from aviation. “It is great that in the Netherlands we were the first to show that this is possible: a big compliment for all involved. I hope that, in these turbulent times for aviation, this will inspire people in the sector to continue on this course.” Pieter Elbers, CEO of KLM, said: “The transition from fossil fuel to sustainable alternatives is one of the largest challenges in aviation. Fleet renewal contributed significantly to the reduction of CO2 emissions, but the upscaling of production and the use of sustainable aviation fuel will make the biggest difference for the current generation of aircraft.” The synthetic kerosene used in the flight was supplied by Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell. Shell produced 500 litres of the synthetic kerosene in its research centre in Amsterdam based on CO2, water and renewable energy from solar and power generated on Dutch soil.
Marjan van Loon, President and CEO Shell Netherlands, said: “Shell is an active player in the energy transition and our contribution to this world-first is an example of this. I am extremely proud that we have succeeded in producing 500 litres of jet fuel for the first time based on CO2, water and renewable energy. It is an important first step and together with our partners we now need to scale up, accelerate and make it commercially viable.” The project has spawned a number of initiatives across Europe for research and development into sustainable biofuels. Several European politicians stressed the importance of work such as this at a press conference dedicated to the event. Various EU member states have expressed interest in developing it further. In a joint statement, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Spain indicated that the pandemic recovery must go hand in hand with an acceleration of the sustainability of the aviation sector in order to achieve climate goals, and the countries called on the European Commission to come up with a European blending obligation. Bloc members all view the move as essential to emissions reduction on the road to carbon-neutrality. Visit: www.klm.com
AEROSPACE & DEFENCE NEWS
Defence Budgets Rising Despite Pandemic Costs, Says Saab CEO by Steven Gislam
Micael Johansson began working for Saab in 1985 and was made company president in 2017 and CEO in 2019. Credit: Peter Karlsson / Saab AB
efence budgets and military spending is rising with governments concerned about ongoing geopolitical tensions, the increased threat of cyberattacks, or another pandemic, according to the CEO of Swedish defence company Saab. In an interview with the FT, Micael Johansson said that the initial concern among some analysts that the economic effects of Covid-19 would lead to governments making cuts to military spending has not come to pass. “Right now we don’t see that. On the contrary, we see increased spending. We see many governments increasing their defence bills and spending, such as in our home country Sweden, where there has been a record increase,” he said. A number of European countries have announced drastic rises in defence budgets in recent years, including some with long-standing policies of neutrality, or which do not have traditionally large defence budgets. In December, the Swedish parliament approved a 40% increase in military spending over the next five years - the largest in the country in 70 years with military chiefs and the government becoming increasingly concerned about Russia’s plans in the Baltic Sea. For almost 200 years, the Scandinavian country maintained an official policy of neutrality. This ended in 2009 when Sweden signed a number of mutual self-defence treaties with the EU and other Nordic nations, though it is still not a member of NATO. In 2011, Sweden participated in the NATO-led contingent in the
war in Libya - the countries first foreign military intervention in two centuries. Earlier this month, Germany reported a record €53 billion in NATO defence budget spending for 2021 - a 3.2% increase on the previous year - partly in the hope that it could ease trans-Atlantic tensions over burdensharing among NATO member states. Former President Donald Trump repeatedly accused Germany and other nations of shirking its contribution responsibilities and allowing the US to shoulder the burden. In November, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the largest rise in the country’s military spending since the end of the Cold War, adding an additional £16.5 billion (€18.9 billion) bringing its defence budget for 2021 to £53.3 billion (€61.1 billion). Johnson told parliament at the time that the country was at risk of “waking up to discover our armed forces have fallen below the minimum threshold of viability” and that he had “decided the era of (defence budget) cutting must end, and end now”. Last September, the French Armed Forces Ministry presented a €49.7 billion draft 2021 defence budget to parliament which would have seen an increase of 4.5% on the previous year and a 22% increase since 2017. The proposed rises were ultimately rejected by French lawmakers but public calls for increases continue. Several other European countries have also increased defence spending. With historical tensions with neighbouring Turkey rising amid
alleged illegal oil drilling in Cypriot waters, Greece announced a military budget increase of 57% on the previous year. There have also been sharp spikes in military expenditure between 2010 and 2019 in several Central European and Baltic state NATO members citing rising concern over Russia as a context. During that ten year period, Poland increased its military budget by 51%, Romania by 154%, Bulgaria by 165%, Latvia by 176% and Lithuania by 232%. Johansson told the FT that “increased tensions” had led to some of the extra government spendings, but added that politicians in Europe were waking up to the need to boost their preparedness for other threats. For example, Finland is maintaining long-term spending plans for training and new measures to counter a range of events, from cyber attacks to conventional military aggression. The Saab CEO also said that the coronavirus pandemic had brought to light the importance for nations to maintain a certain amount of self-sufficiency in times of crisis. “If you have a shutdown and can’t interact with your partners or friends, then you need some capabilities and readiness,” he said. Johansson’s remarks come as Saab released its 2020 annual results, revealing that it had seen a 56% upswing in order intake compared with the previous year, largely helped along by a large contract from the UAE for its GlobalEye early-warning aircraft. For more info, visit: www.saab.com Industry Europe 19
Atotech provides the most advanced technical solutions for the world’s surface-finishing industries, through a combination of innovative chemistry and world-class equipment. Building on its leading position, the company will stay committed to innovation.
LEADING BRAND IN SPECIALITY CHEMICALS 20 Industry Europe
CHEMICALS & BIOCHEMICALS
totech is a leading speciality chemicals technology company and a market leader in advanced electroplating solutions. The company delivers chemistry, equipment, software, and services for innovative technology applications through an integrated systems-and-solutions approach. Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Atotech employs some 4,000 experts in over 40 countries generating annual revenues of $1.2 billion (2020). The group has manufacturing operations across Europe, the Americas, and Asia. With its well-established innovative strength and industry-leading global TechCenter network, Atotech delivers pioneering solutions combined with unparalleled on-site support for over 9,000 customers worldwide.
At the forefront Atotech provides solutions within two lines of business: Electronic and General Metal Finishing, which are used in a wide variety of end markets, including smartphones and other consumer electronics, communications infrastructure; and computing, as well as in numerous industrial and consumer applications such as automotive, heavy machinery, and household appliances. Rigorous R&D has been the backbone of Atotech’s success. Over the years, the company has built an extensive portfolio of pat-
ents and trademarks. A large part of it consists of green and future technologies for environmentally sound processes. Over 50 per cent of its R&D projects are devoted to sustainable goals (2020). In recent years, environmental regulations focused on the chemical industry, including REACH, ELV, and WEEE/RoHS, have gained immensely in importance. The plating industry is one of many industries to feel its direct impact. As a result, there is a growing need and demand for ecological products, creating a new set of challenges and responsibilities for every industrial sector. “Our goal is to not only be the leading supplier of sustainable plating systems, but also to raise the standards even higher and educate industries and communities alike about the solutions available in the market today,” says Brian Daniels, Vice President R&D at Atotech Group.
Staying strong During turbulent 2020, the group’s market position remained unshaken - the company reported fourth quarter revenue of $365 million, an increase of 18 per cent over the fourth quarter of 2019, including organic chemistry revenue growth of 5 per cent Geoff Wild, Atotech’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We leveraged the continued strength of our Electronics end markets, as well Industry Europe 21
as the ongoing recovery in global automotive markets, to deliver strong organic growth. In particular, demand for our comprehensive solutions addressing the technical requirements related to the 5G smartphone replacement cycle, including next-generation semiconductor packaging, was robust. Other areas of strength include 5G infrastructure, automotive electrification, and growing demand for sustainable solutions in surface-finishing applications.” “Throughout 2020, we continued to invest in our business and made decisions in the long-term best interests of our customers, while carefully managing costs. We invested in multiple digitisation initiatives, including IoT solutions, and maintained our highly trained
22 Industry Europe
customer-facing workforce. As we enter this high-growth period in our industry, we believe these decisions have positioned Atotech to take advantage of the many market opportunities in front of us.” Business investment included a new state-of-the-art R&D facility, the Atotech Development Center (“ADC”) in Manesar, India. It is the largest TechCenter of its kind in India, encompassing 20,000 square metres of floor space, containing 17 fully automated plating lines and 39 high-end laboratories outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment. The ADC serves as a global hub for Atotech’s development, testing some of the most innovative and sustainable products in the surface finishing industry. Atotech believes that its customers from
CHEMICALS & BIOCHEMICALS
around the world will benefit from this investment through faster product cycle times and a dedicated focus on delivering and supporting some of the most comprehensive surface finishing solutions in the industry.
Continued expansion Investment in global expansion is set to continue. In March 2021, the company announced that its recently completed production site in Yangzhou, China, is now fully operational. The facility is Atotech’s second chemical plant in China. The state-of-the-art facility houses 14 production vessels with a production capacity of 27,000 tonnes per year and is equipped with modern production features such as a Manufacturing Execution System and Auto-Stop-Filling mechanisms, which ensure the highest quality standards.
At the Yangzhou site, Atotech has successfully adopted a new approach for waste-water treatment, which is a combination of precipitation, evaporation, and biological treatment. Discharge amounts in this new process are significantly below industry levels. Atotech’s global waste management procedures are designed to protect the environment, the employees, and the local communities. Geoff Wild said: “The Yangzhou chemical plant is a major milestone in expanding our business in Asia. It will be an important supply hub for our customers in East China and will further strengthen our overall competitiveness in our largest geographic market, China, and beyond.” He added that the company expects full-year 2021 total organic revenue growth to be in the range of 10 per cent to 12 per cent This strong outlook is driven by constructive end markets in both n the Electronics and GMF segments.
Industry Europe 23
New developments in the Chemicals & Biochemicals
Unilever NA Invests $15 Million In Plastics Recycling
by Ash Jones
nilever North America is set to invest $15 million (€12.6 million) into a plastics recycling programme that aims to allow the company to help recycle more than 60,000 metric tonnes of plastic packaging waste per year by 2025, coming as part of a commitment for the company to collect and process more plastic than it sells. Unilever has consistently been among the world’s top plastic’s polluters, coming in fourth place in terms of plastic waste last year in Break Free From Plastic’s annual report, behind Nestlé, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. The impact of the new investment represents more than half of the company’s plastics footprint. Half of the 118,000 metric tonnes of plastic used by Unilever North America is post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics and some of its largest brands, such as Dove, Hellmann’s and Seventh Generation already use 100% PCR bottles.
These plans all come as part of Unilever’s “Waste-Free World” commitment which, among other things, includes a dedication to only using virgin-grade plastics, ensuring all its plastic is reusable, recyclable or compostable and using at least 25% plastic in its recycling. The investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund will help secure additional PCR plastic supply for Unilever brands and increase access to recycled plastic feedstock processed by the companies the Fund invests in. Fabian Garcia, President of Unilever North America, said: “We believe plastics’ place is inside the circular economy where it is reused, and not in the environment. We’re advocating to transform the recycling system for a waste-free world, and we urgently need business investment to help make it happen.” Ron Gonen, Founder and CEO of Closed Loop Partners, said: “Unilever is a pioneer and leader when it comes to recognising the economic, social and environmental value of embedding circular economy principles throughout their business, critically moving from ambitious commitments and goals to tangible action and progress. “Unilever’s investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund, in addition to its existing investment in our Infrastructure Fund, will help accelerate the shift toward more circular supply chains by scaling best-in-class circular business models and supporting the technological breakthroughs and sustainable innovations that keep valuable materials continuously cycling in manufacturing supply chains.” Unilever is also looking to encourage more producer responsibility to increase broader investment to help transform the plastics recycling system. The company is working with major CPG companies through the “Circular Economy Accelerators” programme to promote a plan for brands to fund needed recycling infrastructure investments in the US In Canada, Unilever North America participates in extended producer responsibility programs in provinces with established programs. Visit: www.unilever.co.uk
Plastics Industry Financiers Under Scrutiny As Pollution Concerns Rise by Steven Gislam
new report published by research network portfolio.earth has calculated that banks have provided $1.7 trillion (€1.39 trillion) in financing to 40 companies involved in the plastics supply chain without imposing compulsory measures to combat plastic pollution accumulating in the rivers and oceans. With banks in Europe and the US increasingly spurning fossil fuel projects, campaigners are urging lenders to take a similar approach to plastics and make loans conditional on increased recycling measures. “What the financial sector needs now is someone to step forward and say ‘okay, we’re going to take a look at plastics,’ and then others will follow,” said Robin Smale, director of Vivid Economics, a consultancy which audited the report. The report, entitled ‘Bankrolling Extinction’, named Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc 24 Industry Europe
and JPMorgan Chase & Co as the three largest financial backers of plastics respectively between January 2015 and September 2019. The report found that each of the three banks provided between $144 billion (€117.5 billion) and $172 billion (€140.3 billion) in loans and other forms of financing to a range of companies including producers of chemicals, packaging and drinks manufacturers.
In Europe, the largest financiers of plastics were named as Barclays and HSBC, providing $118 billion (€96.3 billion) and $96 billion (€78.3 billion) respectively. Public awareness over plastic pollution has risen sharply in recent years, with highly publicised incidents of plastic contamination appearing in previously untouched environments from the Arctic to the ocean floor. The report shows that, of the 20 global banks providing the majority of the plastics manufacturing industry’s financing, not one had brought in criteria for due diligence or exclusion. Banks have the power to reduce the impact of plastic pollution by making financing contingent on strict and ambitious reuse and recycling schemes, as well as by lobbying governments to lend their support to such measures, the report said. Visit: portfolio.earth
CHEMICALS & BIOCHEMICALS NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Legal Loophole Allows Britain To Ship Plastic Waste Abroad by Ash Jones
he UK has been accused of failing to live up to its promises in managing plastic waste as new information reveals post-Brexit laws regarding the issue are far less stringent than their counterparts within the EU. Britain is reportedly still allowing tonnes of plastic waste to be shipped and dumped in developing nations, despite the 2019 Conservative manifesto promising to ban the practice. The government have maintained their pledge to not allow environmental standards to slip post-Brexit. The EU banned exporting plastic waste from OPEC countries from January 1. The UK is currently the world’s second-largest exporter of plastic per capita, behind only the US. The UK’s exports will now be made under a platform of informed consent, where the nation receiving the waste must accept before anything is shipped and are offered the right of refusal. The UK reportedly shipped 7,133 metric tonnes of plastic waste to other countries in
2020 alone. Recipients include Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey. Several plastics financiers have recently come under scrutiny for not applying the same measures to combat pollution that exist within the fossil fuels industry. The report found these companies often donated in excess of hundreds-of-billions of dollars with no consideration as to what will happen to the waste once its life-cycle has ended. American companies Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, as well as controversial Swiss food and drink giant Nestlé, were revealed to be the world’s top plastics polluters, according to a yearly audit released in early December. Coca-Cola alone is responsible for 2.9 million tonnes of plastic waste per year. Both the EU’s ban and the UK’s policies have been spurred by calls to tackle the global plastic issue. Under the Basel convention, new international rules have been prompted to tackle the issue. Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network, told The Guardian that the EU has
BP And Sabic Team Up For Circular Plastics by Ash Jones
P and Sabic have signed a new agreement to drive a circular economy in the petrochemical sector by teaming up for a new renewable plastics initiative. Based at the Gelsenkirchen chemical complex in Germany, the agreement will see the two companies hone their relationship to produce circular products that use used mixed plastics as feedstock, thus reducing the amount of fossil resources needed in the petrochemical process. BP and Sabic have had a working relationship at the site for decades, which is the starting point for the chemicals value chain in its local area. Sabic already operates a number of green plastic polymers under its current portfolio which are produced using advanced recycling to convert low quality mixed and used plastic, otherwise destined for incineration or landfill, into pyrolysis oil. The oil, which acts as an alternative feedstock to traditional fossil materials, will be processed at BP’s refining site and then used by
The Gelsenkirchen plant, located in Germany
Sabic in its polymer plants to produce certified circular products. The final product has identical features to virgin-based polymers - the main basis for most plastics, fed directly from the source material, be it crude oil or natural gas - with the primary difference it being recyclable repeatedly. Following on from successful trials in December 2020, polymer production using the alternative feedstock started at the site early this year. Sabic hope the use of polymers such as these will minimise or otherwise eliminate plastic waste.
been planning an outright ban of plastic exports since April 2019. He said: “We had assumed the UK would at least follow the EU, and so it is a shock to find out now that instead, they choose to have a far weaker control procedure, which can still permit exports of contaminated and difficult-to-recycle plastics to developing countries. “They are talking the talk, but they have failed to walk the walk.” He concluded that 90% of the UK’s exported plastic waste would be considered dirty or unsorted. The UK government have confirmed it will be making efforts to bring in the legislature to block the exporting of plastic waste to other parts of the world, but have not offered a timetable of events at this time. “Advanced recycling allows us to increase the production of more sustainable materials and use our planet’s resources wisely, whilst reducing the use of conventional approaches such as landfill and combustion,” said Fahad Al Swailem, the Vice President for PE & Sales at Sabic. He added: “Advanced recycling has a crucial role to play in the current recycling mix as it can capture value from plastic waste streams that have traditionally been ignored or discarded. “We continue to increase our collaborations with upstream suppliers and downstream customers, and this new initiative with our long-term partner bp takes us one step further to achieving our vision.” This move puts BP closer in line with its 2030 climate goals of achieving up to 30% of its ethylene and propylene production from sustainable, recyclable raw materials. Wolfgang Stückle, the Vice President of Refining and Specialities Solutions for Europe & Africa at BP, said: “It is a fantastic achievement on the part of the Gelsenkirchen team, after more than a year’s preparation, to set up the new initiative with our partners at SABIC. At the same time, it is what bp’s recently announced Net Zero strategy is all about.” Visit: www.bp.com Industry Europe 25
New developments in the Construction & Engineering
Skybrators: Bladeless Turbines Hope To Reinvent Wind Energy by Ash Jones
panish tech startup Vortex Bladeless has developed a way for wind turbines to generate energy without the need for blades and without the often harmful impacts of large wind farms. Dubbed “skybrators” - a name which has been met with mixed reaction in various online circles owing to its phallic design and association with sex toys - the product stands 3 metres (10 feet) tall and generates wind energy through vibrations. The green energy pioneers say its new turbine can generate wind energy without the need for blades, towers, or even wind. The design and its creators have won a number of awards since 2012 for their innovative design and recently won the approval of Norway’s Equinor, who say that Vortex is among the most exciting startups within the energy sector. The Norwegian company is set to offer support to burgeoning energy innovators through its tech accelerator programme. David Yáñez, the company’s founder, has said the primary benefit of the Vortex Bladeless is that it reduces “its environmental impact, its visual impact, and the cost of operating and maintaining the turbine.” From the start, the company designed the turbine to be an equivalent for solar energy in terms of features and cost-effectiveness over time. The current product’s development is focused on on-site generation, meant to work alongside
other Vortex units or regular solar panels in hybrid installations. Yáñez told The Guardian that his company were not against traditional wind farms, but they wanted to create an alternative to turbines that feature large, rotating blades, which can often present a danger to wildlife. The RSPB has suggested wind turbines can affect animals such as birds in a number of ways, such as disturbance, loss of habitat and collision, acting as a watchdog for current wind farms and the possible environmental impacts. The turbine supposedly oscillates at a frequency that is undetectable to humans and also does not pose as much of a threat to birds as traditional turbines do. Yáñez added: “Our technology has different characteristics which can help to fill the gaps where traditional wind farms might not be appropriate.” This could include applications within more urban or residential areas where traditional wind farms would be impractical. It follows the same trend that the commercialisation of solar panels has had on personal energy generation, allowing consumers to significantly reduce energy bills by relying on self-generation. Yáñez said: “They complement each other well because solar panels produce electricity during the day while wind speeds tend to be higher at night. But the main benefit of the
Webuild-Led Consortium Awarded
€1bn Railway Contract In Sicily by Steven Gislam
consortium headed by Italian construction group Webuild has won a €1 billion contract to add capacity to the railway line connecting the two cities on Catania and Messina in Sicily. The contract sees Webuild take a 70% stake in the project, with its consortium partner Pizzarotti holding the other 30%. Italian railway management company Rete Ferroviaria Italiana awarded the contract, which is related to works to be undertaken along the Giampilieri– Fiumefreddo section of the line. 26 Industry Europe
technology is in reducing its environmental impact, its visual impact, and the cost of operating and maintaining the turbine. “Today, the turbine is small and would generate small amounts of electricity. But we are looking for an industrial partner to scale up our plans to a 140-metre (460 feet) turbine with a power capacity of 1 megawatt.” Company spokesman Mike Shaw commented: “While our turbines can be placed anywhere, the optimal location is next to a highway, where they can be fitted on to existing infrastructure. There’s no need to dig anything up, as they can attach to the lighting columns that are already there and use the existing cabling to feed directly into the grid. The footprint is small, and motorways aren’t exactly beauty spots.” Towards the end of last year, the startup announced plans to create at least 100 units by the end of 2021. The six-man team will require significant investment before it can produce the skybrators on an industrial scale. The company claim the turbines have “ better space optimisation, response to wind changes, ROI and life-span than blades-based wind energy.” A significant market could be nations such as the UK, which has vowed to have all UK homes powered by wind energy by 2030. Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to invest £95 million (€110.9 million) into new wind ports in what he described as a “green industrial revolution.” Teeside and Humber, expected to be major industrial players in the UK within the next few decades, are said to be the main hubs for offshore wind as the UK moves towards this green transition. Visit: www.vortexbladeless.com
Webuild - which is already working on a near €200 million project on the line between Catania and the island’s capital Palermo - says the new contract is focused on the construction of a new 28.3km line and all related infrastructure works, including signalling, communications and electrification. The contract also calls for the excavation of two single tunnels, six parallel tunnels and seven viaducts, and the new line will be built further inland than the existing connection, with the majority running through the tunnels. The Webuild-led consortium will also construct a new underground station and five overground stations. The Catania-Messina connection, when completed, will form part of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which is part of the EU’s sustainable mobility initiative. For more info, visit: www.webuildgroup.com
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS ICON And NASA Deliver World’s First 3D Printed Rocket Pad by Ash Jones
exas-based construction company ICON has partnered with NASA to deliver on what it considers to be the world’s first 3D printed rocket pad as part of its plan to bring spacefaring infrastructure closer to home. The project saw undergraduates from 10 colleges and universities from across the United States using proprietary technology to 3D print the pad using materials commonly found on the moon. The Lunar Plume Alleviation Device, or Lunar PAD, focuses on solving the problems caused when the force of an engine’s powerful exhaust meets the dusty lunar surface. The design features a series of petal-like channels that send exhaust upward and outward, minimising the amount of dust lofted during launch and landing. The idea was first proposed by the team during a 12-week NASA Proposal Writing and Evaluation training course back in 2019. The course came as part of the L’SPACE online academy and the students won funding from NASA to achieve their vision. The student team laterpresented a paper on the Lunar PAD concept January 12 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2021 SciTech Forum. The final project was based on a concrete prototype ICON constructed back in October. The team also recently conducted a test on the pad with a rocket motor at Camp Swift, just outside of Austin, Texas. Michael McDaniel, ICON’s Head of Design described the pad as the first step in making off-world construction a reality. The pad consists of two primary layers. The first is a “roof” from which the rocket takes off or lands and below it are a series of channels specifically designed to safely redirect the exhaust fumes.
A wall surrounds the structure, capturing any lunar dust particles that become mobilized during a launch or landing. John Dankanich, chief technologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center said the project represented a technological “pain point,” adding the project enables a “safe and reusable landing pad required for sustainable lunar exploration.” “The team worked many hundreds of hours, engaged NASA subject matter experts, and went from concept formulation to a preliminary design. They then turned that design into reality with the subscale construction, all in a few short months,” he added. Dankanich described Mike Fiske, a Moon-to-Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project lead, as “one of his heroes, for not just mentoring the Lunar PAD team, but truly making them a part of the NASA team.” Fiske coordinated with NASA subject matter experts and other government, industry, and academic partners in support of the project. Fisk said: “It has been a pleasure working with these students over the last year and helping to advance the state of the art in planetary launch and landing pads. “The results from this project contribute strongly to our future knowledge of lunar launch and landing pads and get us one step closer to lunar infrastructure.” Visit: www.iconbuild.com
Norway Is Building The World’s First Tunnel For Ships by Steven Gislam
he Norwegian government has given the goahead for the construction of the world’s first tunnel for ships, which will allow safe passage for vessels navigating the exposed Stadhavet Sea. The prospect of a tunnel through the mountains of the Stad peninsula, on Norway’s
western tip, has been hotly debated for decades, though the first construction plan was revealed in 2013. The government has now allocated around €265 million for the tunnel’s construction, based on a plan put forward by the Norwegian Coastal Administration. Since then, it has been through cost reduction and quality assurance processes. The Stad tunnel will be 1.7km long, 37 metres high and 26.5 metres wide, which is large enough for coastal steamer-sized ships to safely navigate. It is estimated that some three million³ tonnes of rock will be removed during the construction process. Temporary project manager Terje Andreassen, of the Norwegian Coastal Association, which is
overseeing the tunnel’s construction, said that the process of finding a contractor for the tunnel has begun, with construction expected to have begun by 2022 and completed within four years of breaking ground. “Based on the allocation letter, we will now start the processes of acquiring properties in the area where the ship tunnel will be located, as well as put in place a project organisation, prepare a tender basis and initiate a tender,” said Andreassen. “There is much work to be done, but we have carried out extensive studies and planning that will form the basis for the work.” For more info, visit: www.kystverket.no Industry Europe 27
New developments in Construction & Engineering
86% Of Heavy Industry Not Prepared For Energy Transition, TPI Warns by Ash Jones
s the world enters the energy transition - the period where industry will shift away from traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels only 14% of large publicly-listed companies are aligned with an emissions reductions pathway that would keep global temperature rises at 2°C or below, according to an analysis by Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) in their annual report. TPI’s research found that 86% of these companies - with a combined net worth of $856 billion across various heavy industries like steel, mining and cement - have failed to adequately prepare themselves for what TPI refer to as the “transition decade.” The research analyses 169 companies in total including the likes of Arcelor Mittal and Rio Tinto. The firms are analysed on their “carbon performance,” a measurement of emissions reductions plans in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, which specifies at least a commitment to 2°C, with a preference to keeping it below 1.5°C. The research was conducted at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. Collectively, all the companies analysed come from industries considered “hard to decarbonise” owing to there being no straightforward low-carbon replacement technology for their products or processes. The research highlights the poor performance of the aluminium and paper sectors in particular with only one company in each industry putting forth plans to stick within the 2°C guidelines. By contrast, the report indicates six steel companies are aligned with 2050 goals, with the largest being Luxembourg-based Arcelor Mittal. Steel production alone accounts for 10% of global emissions and is considered a vital step in net-zero goals. In all, heavy industries account for 25% of total energy emissions. The pace of decarbonisation for certain industries has meant that the 2050 goal would be more practical owing to technological limitations or extreme costs associated with rapid shifts to net-zero and the greater need for the shift away from carbon. The data suggests that at least 28 of the companies listed could meet the PCA’s climate goals by 2030. The report also argues that the circular economy could help address the problems encoun28 Industry Europe
tered by hard to decarbonise sectors through the use of new processes to design out waste and pollution and increase the emphasis on recycling and reusing more products and materials. For example, in cement production, emissions-heavy cement clinker could be replaced by steel blast furnace slag and coal ash. The data claims as much as 15.25% of clinker in Europe alone could be replaced in this way. Adam Matthew, TPI’s co-chair, revealed it is concerning that so few companies are ready for the energy transition, stipulating the importance of many of these sectors in the switch to net-zero. He said: “Industrial sectors like mining and steel form the building blocks of the global economy and are some of the hardest sectors to decarbonise. But they account for more than 9 gigatonnes of greenhouse gases, and key decisions will be taken by companies and investors over this coming decade that will determine the role they will play in societies achievement of the Paris climate agreement. “As we enter the transition decade these hard to abate sectors are critical to achieving net-zero goals by 2050. Whilst it is concerning that so few industrial companies are ready, it is clear that new industrial processes based on circular economy principles give us a tipping point of technically viable, economically attractive solutions. “From recycling systems to technological innovations, the solutions are now there, and investors are ready to push for much bolder action from these sectors in the run-up to COP26. To ensure that companies are part of the transition decade they must initiate cooperation across sectors and through their value chains to develop circular economy measures such as material efficiency and cross-sector recycling of by-products.” The TPI report also assesses the climate management quality of companies in various other industrial sectors, such as chemicals and aerospace. Six companies listed have reached TPI’s highest level for management quality, including Air Liquide, BHP, Vale, Anglo American, Klabin and Philips.
Euan Stirling, Global Head of Stewardship and ESG Investment, Aberdeen Standard Investments, said: “Sustainability of global development will be determined by how we produce and use commodities such as steel and cement. That is why the TPI report covering industrial and materials companies is both essential reading and a call to action for investors. “Only six of the expanded coverage of 169 companies have achieved TPI’s top grade with many failing to make any progress since the last publication. We hope that we will be joined by others in redoubling our stewardship efforts with these companies to help them improve their performance.” Iancu Daramus, a Senior Sustainability Analyst at LGIM, said: “Industrials and materials companies will literally provide the building blocks of a low-carbon future. This report emphasises the urgent need to tackle the huge climate challenge in this sector. TPI research forms a key part of LGIM’s public climate ratings of corporates, and we will continue to hold such companies accountable through voting and investment decisions for their progress towards net zero.” Carbon capture technology could also prove useful in aiding decarbonisation, allowing for heavy industry players to sequester any carbon they release before it enters the atmosphere. Carbon capture could not only aid in the shift to net-zero but could also lead to carbon-negativity, the process by which existing excess carbon dioxide may be removed from the atmosphere. Vitaliy Komar, Researcher at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and a co-author of the TPI report said it will be a long road ahead for industrial sectors, but technological advancements are smoothing the path to a 2°C or below future, and heavy industry needs to gear up its climate progress. He added: “Low-carbon industrial technologies, such as Scrap-EAF in steelmaking, show the importance of establishing a circular economy and offer viable ways to phase out high-carbon processes. “Our report also identifies an emerging case to develop carbon capture and utilisations projects in the cement sector, represented by Dalmia Bharat and other companies. Dalmia is also the first company in TPI assessment with a net-negative emissions target. Across the sectors, there are a number of other irons in the fire, and companies that are fast to adapt will have greater resiliency in a low carbon future.” Visit: www.transitionpathwayinitiative.org
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Metso Outotec And BIA Group Expand
Distribution Partnership To Africa by Ash Jones
inland’s Metso Outotec and its distribution partner BIA Group have signed a contract to expand their aggregates distribution coverage to Africa. Starting in March 2021, Metso Outotec’s stationary and mobile equipment, spare and wear parts coupled with BIA’s technical expertise and local presence will be available for aggregates customers in West and Central Africa. The two companies have successfully partnered in the Benelux region since 1930. The decision to expand the long-lasting partnership to Africa was driven by a shared ambition to reach and serve customers in the region better than ever before. Enhancing both companies’ offering, Metso Outotec and BIA put themselves in an unrivalled position now able to offer a complete product portfolio with the highest possible services levels. With the dynamic nature of the African markets driven by both GDP and population growth and large construction projects impacting positively the aggregate demand, Metso Outotec and BIA have high expectations on the possibilities provided by the expansion. “This expansion of our distribution partnership with BIA enables us to reach out to new territories, where we were not present earlier,” said Olli-Pekka Oksanen, the senior vice president for Global Distribution Management at Metso Outotec. “With the agreement, we provide equipment, parts and support for customers in new
areas. Whether the customer is looking for a full stationary plant or single mobile equipment, we can offer them all – with the desired support level. “Our portfolio covers the needs of different types of customers and applications and meets the local requirements and standards.We are happy to be able to utilize the opportunities in the region in collaboration with BIA.” Vincent Bia, BIA Group CEO said: “This agreement extension for West and Central Africa demonstrates the willingness of BIA and Metso Outotec to strengthen their historical partnership that started over 90 years ago with Nordberg for Belgium.” “Since then, both companies have continuously developed their products and services to gain unrivalled expertise that serves both the aggregates and mining customers. We are confident that BIA’s market knowledge and local presence together with Metso Outotec’s solutions and technologies will form complementary assets to meet the ever-growing customer needs.” Visit: www.mogroup.com | www.biagroup.com
‘Moonrise’ 3D Prints Lunar Regolith Structures In Zero-Gravity by Steven Gislam
team of scientists from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) and the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany have successfully used 3D printing to create structures using lunar regolith in zero gravity conditions for the first time. The ambitious ‘Moonrise’ project - funded by the Volkswagen Foundation - has spent two years creating a laser platform that would be able to melt lunar regolith, or moondust, into structural forms. The team mounted a 3 kg customised laser to the MIRA3D, a mobile robot arm prototype built to use in the testing of technologies with the potential for use on future lunar rover vehicles. The laser was then used to melt a synthetic material which replicated the qualities of lunar regolith into joint lanes, a structural form used for the creation of more complex shapes. With further research, it could form the basis of a ‘flight-ready’ model that could be used by future astronauts to construct long-term structures on the lunar surface economically and with relative speed. “We were able to precisely control the laser’s head on the arm of the rover, thus melting larger
structures with complete success,” said Professor Enrico Stoll of TU Braunschweig. “Together with experiments conducted in LUH’s ‘Einstein Elevator,’ we have a solid basis for 3D printing with the laser on the Moon.” The Einstein Elevator is a sophisticated drop-tower in which microgravity conditions can be recreated. Moonrise was the first in the Elevator, says LZH. As the two-year project draws towards its completion, the team has been looking to conduct even more advanced experiments with the laser, such as the one in the Einstein Elevator. “In the elevator, we succeeded in melting regolith into spheres – both under complete weightlessness and lunar gravity,” said LZH’s Professor Ludger Overmeyer. “That is unique in the world!”
On the back of the successful trials, the team is now beginning negotiations with space agencies, as they look to develop the technology further and hone it towards flight-readiness. If able to finish their work, the team claim that their device could be used to construct structurally solid and long-lasting lunar settlements in the future. With a host of space agencies looking to establish a permanent presence on the Moon, including the US, China, Russia and the EU, more and more focus is being put on 3D printing as a cost-effective solution to construction on the lunar surface. In the US, Texas-based construction firm ICON has been awarded a contract by NASA for the development of a prototype of a full-scale off-world 3D printer - a task to which the company has dedicated a whole new division. China’s National Space Administration has als “In the last two years, we have developed a laser head that is only about the size of a large juice box and yet can withstand the adverse conditions in space,” commented Niklas Gerdes from LZH. “During the first tests in the laboratory, we determined the necessary irradiation duration and laser power. Then we went into the vacuum chamber and successfully melted regolith there.” Vsit: www.lzh.de Industry Europe 29
MAKING A DIFFERENCE Ontex, a leading international personal hygiene group, is setting new strategic priorities in order to restore growth and value creation. The company’s new CEO, Esther Berrozpe, has a clear vision for the way forward. Romana Moares reports.
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ntex, the Belgian group that delivers high-quality products for Baby Care, Feminine Care and Adult Care and is the partner of choice for consumers, retailers as well as institutional and private healthcare providers around the world, has re-defined its focus under the management of Esther Berrozpe, the new CEO who was appointed with effect from January 2021. Mrs Berrozpe, selected from a strong pool of highly qualified candidates, has an impressive professional track record. During her long career at Whirlpool, Mrs Berrozpe led different business units in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, driving business turnaround, improving Whirlpool’s competitiveness and strengthening its leadership position in these regions. Entering her new role at the beginning of 2021, she said: “I am excited to have taken over as CEO of Ontex. The company possesses a number of major assets that once realigned will represent significant potential for value creation for our shareholders. Past initiatives have neither been sufficient nor have they delivered the expected benefits.”
“We have already started work on setting our priorities for the future to return Ontex to growth, sustainable margins and cash generation with a solid financial structure. I know that I can count on the commitment of Ontex’s employees to rise to this challenge and build a new successful chapter for the Group.”
Adaptive and sustainable Ontex was founded in Belgium in 1979 as a supplier of underpads for Belgian hospitals, clinics and care homes. Since then the company has built an international business through organic growth and a number of key acquisitions. Today Ontex employs some 10,000 people on five continents and its products are available in more than 110 countries. Around half are sold as Ontex brands and the remainder as retailer brands. The group has 19 manufacturing sites in 15 countries in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, Australia and the Americas and runs some 30 sales and marketing offices, which enables it to adapt quickly to market changes in terms of both production
Industry Europe 31
and delivery. The nine dedicated R&D centres in various regions are a clear sign of Ontex’s intent to continuously stay ahead with market-relevant products. Ontex’s goal to deliver sustainable profitable growth rests on a two-pillar strategy: strengthen current leadership positions in its three Divisions, and expand into new businesses and geographies in core categories.
Smart products Ontex’s focus on innovation and new product development is high. Recent launches include SecondDry - a smart solution to improve incontinence care for patients, accelerating innovation in adult care, a category that has seen good and steady growth in recent years. This innovative solution comprises a top-quality diaper with a printed sensor, a transmitter clipped onto the diaper as well as an application for mobile devices, the combination of which accurately determines the saturation level of the diaper as well as the risk of leakage and alerts caregivers when it is necessary to
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change the diaper. The smart diaper also reduces the environmental impact of care institutions by decreasing unnecessary diaper usage and allowing savings on laundry. To support caregivers and other essential workers as a response to Covid-19, last year Ontex invested in the production of surgical face masks of the IIR type, which are typically used in hospitals. The new production line, installed in just 100 days and inaugurated in September 2020 - the result of Ontex’s own initiative with no government funding - has a capacity of around 80 million IIR-type surgical face masks per year.
Sustainable growth Ontex pursues sustainable business practices that contribute to genuine business success. The group is committed to achieving climate neutral operations by 2030 and to moving towards a circular business model, striving to achieve a positive impact in its supply chain and to regenerate natural resources.
In line with its goals relating to carbon neutrality, at the end of last year Ontex inaugurated a large solar rooftop at its Spanish factory, one of the largest solar power projects for on-site electricity consumption in Spain. Annick De Poorter, Ontex’s Vice President for R&D, Quality and Sustainability, said: “We can now produce a large part of the electricity we need to manufacture essential hygiene goods. Since 2017, all of Ontex’s European factories in nine countries run 100 per cent on electricity from renewable sources.” After a volatile 2020 when financial performance was impacted by the pandemic-related shift to online sales as well as decreased demand in several emerging markets due to the economic downturn, the company expects the sales recovery to start in Q2 2021. Mrs Berrozpe said: “I am committed to accelerating Ontex’s path towards further growth and I look forward to working together with the executive leadership team and the worldwide Ontex family that n has shown incredible resilience this past year.”
Industry Europe 33
SMART AND SUSTAINABLE Bunge, the world leader in sourcing, processing and supplying oilseed and grain products and ingredients, is pursuing a sustainable approach across its supply chain as an integral part of the move towards smart agriculture.
ounded in 1818, Bunge’s wide network feeds and fuels a growing world, creating sustainable products and opportunities across the globe for more than 70,000 farmers and the consumers they serve. The company is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri and has 24,000 employees worldwide who stand behind more than 350 port terminals, oilseed processing plants, grain facilities, and food and ingredient production and packaging facilities around the world. 34 Industry Europe
Through the three businesses—agribusiness, fertiliser, and food products—the company has established a leading global presence in the farm-to-consumer food chain. Bunge is the world’s largest oilseed processor, the world’s number one seller of bottled vegetable oil to consumers and the largest producer and supplier of fertilisers to farmers in South America. Connecting farmers and consumers globally, Bunge brings food and feed products from where they are produced to where they
are needed. Its integrated value chain links origination, storage and transportation to activities further down the line, including processing, packaging and distribution. This helps farmers and communities prosper, puts better food on the shelf, increases sustainability, strengthens global food security and improves diets.
Balanced portfolio Bunge’s operations include buying grains, oilseeds and soft seeds from farmers, then storing, transporting and selling them to domestic and export customers. The company also provides financial, risk management and logistics services. Its global network of facilities spans six continents and includes grain elevators, oilseed processing plants and strategically located port terminals. The company’s balanced global footprint includes a particularly strong local presence in the three largest soybean oilseed producing countries in the world: the US, Brazil and Argentina. Bunge operates crush plants around the world – at both origins and destinations, and its processing capacity covers South America,
36 Industry Europe
North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, including both soy crush and soft seed crush. Bunge provides vital links in the chain from producer to consumer by sourcing oilseeds and crushing them to produce vegetable oils and protein meals. These are used to produce animal feed, make cooking oils, margarine and shortening and in the biodiesel industry. From long-standing staples to innovative new products, Bunge’s margarines, edible oils, bakery and grain brands meet the exacting demands of commercial customers and the emerging taste and nutrition trends of consumers in some of the world’s largest markets.
Smart transformation As agriculture, on a global scale, is shifting towards the adoption of smart solutions as well as the Industry 4.0 principles, Bunge makes the most of the rapid advancements in technologies and applications that help to increase productivity and optimise cost. Driven by opportunities to increase transparency and efficiency for customers, global agribusinesses are turning to emerging digital
technologies – including blockchain and artificial intelligence options – to reduce resource- and time-intensive processes associated with the global agricultural commodity value chain. In line with this paradigm shift, Bunge has partnered with the other three largest grain traders in the world - Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC) with the goal of digitally transforming their supply chains. The four companies are set to replace paper-based processes with technological alternatives. The process aims to increase visibility and transparency across supply chain movements, ultimately trying to improve the experience for customers and consumers. The companies also seek broadbased industry participation to promote global access and adoption.
Sustainable business Sustainability is an integral part of the move towards smart agriculture and Bunge integrates sustainability across every level of its value chains. Bunge’s approach to responsible supply chains includes a robust vision for sustainable agriculture and a commitment to end deforestation worldwide by 2025. It calls for value chains that are transparent, verified sustainable and which create positive impacts on the ground while advancing the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Sustainability is also key in terms of internal operations. In January 2021, Bunge announced a 10-year agreement with Direct Energy Renewable Services to use renewable energy at its Fort Worth, Texas oils packaging facility. This initiative will offset 100% of Bunge’s power usage in that location with an equivalent amount of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) that are derived from Texas wind power. Beginning in August of 2021, Bunge’s Fort Worth plant energy will be sourced from a local wind farm. “We strive to do the right thing in every decision we make, and in every region where we work. By optimising our facilities and embracing new technologies and sources of energy, we are confident we will be able to reduce our global environmental footprint and to improve value to our customers,” said Rob Covelo, Bunge’s Chief Sustainability and Government Affairs Officer. “When looking to the future, Bunge will continue to invest in and expand the use of wind and solar energy, as well as other sustainable alternatives across its supply chains.” Reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy is one of the many ways Bunge is working to build and implement innovative activities and solutions that advance its global goals of reducing water, waste, n emissions and energy in target amounts by 2026.
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New developments in the Consumer Goods
RuralDorset Project To Introduce 5G Agri-Robots by Ash Jones
ritish sustainable farming company Small Robot Company (SRC) has entered into a partnership with 5G RuralDorset to introduce 5G-powered agri-robots to improve connectivity and farming efficiency. The £7 million project is being funded by the Department of Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DMCS) as part of its 5G Testbeds and Trial programme in accordance with Wessex Internet, Telint and Dorset Council to provide a blueprint for rural-optimised 5G connectivity for arable farms. The project hopes to see the rapid implementation of 5G technology into rural areas which could have an effect on reducing the divide between rural and urban areas in both the UK and abroad and falls within the wider category of Industry 4.0. The partners hope proving the technological viability of rural areas may spur further innovations of investments, resulting in the creation of new jobs and improved prosperity. The team also claim the project could help reduce the overall cost of operating robots, which are already significantly cheaper than conventional farm machinery. The project will develop an affordable, reliable and interoperable 5G network that is tailor-made for farmer’s needs and help provide step-change in the industry. The environmental impact of farming is a major variable in the blueprints for the scheme. Carbon emissions may be a big problem for the agricultural industry and improve overall soil health, helping farmers reach UK agriculture targets to be net-zero by 2040. Interconnectivity may also offer other benefits, such as strengthening and localising supply chains, which have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Wessex Internet is also working alongside other players to integrate 5G technology into 38 Industry Europe
other areas of the agriculture industry. The aim is to deliver novel high/mid bandwidth 5G solutions and breakthrough innovation within agriculture which could result in more costeffective technology, the ability to link local needs with local produce, reduce waste and add the potential to deliver higher-quality produce. Hector Gibson Fleming, Managing Director of Wessex Internet, said: “Our work taking full-fibre broadband to farms, homes and businesses in rural communities has shown us how great connectivity can transform countryside communities. But connectivity across farms remains a massive issue. “Exciting technological developments in agriculture have the potential to transform farming, but are held back by poor connectivity and mobile coverage. We hope the 5G networks we’re building across a number of Dorset farms, and the exciting 5G applications we’re trialling, such as Small Robot Company’s agri-robots, will be a shining example of what the future can look like.” Ben Scott-Robinson, the CEO of SRC said: “This 5G blueprint could be a catalyst for rural economies - with our robots demonstrating the potential for 5G to transform agricultural productivity. Connectivity is not a luxury. It’s a utility. And vital to economic performance. “5G technological development within agriculture is vital post-Brexit. One of the biggest obstacles facing UK farmers in adopting new technologies is poor connectivity around the farm. This 5G blueprint will pave the way for growth in the rural economy - and alongside it a greatly-improved quality of life.” The trials will be the first to demonstrate wide-scale autonomy of robotics farming operations including the development of “5G ready” agri-robots and “as a service” agri-robots - robots whose performance will shift over time to meet agricultural needs - as well as a 5G-connected app to control the robots. On-farm robot “kennels” will aim to process huge volumes of data from robots “on the fly,” exploiting the benefits of using higher frequency 5G spectrum
and infrastructure so farmers can take more timely corrective action to maximise yields and minimise pesticide use. Mike Donnachie, Farm Manager at Ranston Farms noted: “Having precise and accurate data to hand so I can make instant decisions will bring great benefit into the future.” Dorset Council Deputy Leader Peter Wharf remarked: “Farming in rural areas such as Dorset is a way of life for communities. It is our hope that in making farming operations more sustainable through a partnership with the Small Robot Company we can revolutionise not only the productivity of agricultural operations but also reduce its impact on the environment through novel uses of monitoring and weed control. In doing so we will make agriculture part of Dorset for generations to come.” Wessex Internet will be delivering three farm 5G networks on the back of its existing 2,100km full-fibre network as part of its RuralDorset trials. As a company with a farming background, the rural connectivity provider will be aiming to experiment with a 5G network which is fit for the industry – testing the technical and commercial viability of 5G deployment models in rural areas. The SRC trials will be taking place at the Ranston Farm 5G trial site in Dorset between October 2021 and March 2022 and are set to release a report on its farms-as-a-service model.
Visit: www.smallrobotcompany.com www.5gruraldorset.org
CONSUMER GOODS NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Danone Drops Faber As Chairman
Following Shareholder Shakeup by Ash Jones
rench foods group Danone has announced it has removed CEO Emmanuel Faber from both his role as company chairman and CEO following a shareholder shakeup. This comes following a two-week compromise where executives within the company sought to separate the roles of chairman and CEO, removing Faber from his position as CEO and placing him into his role as non-executive chairman. It was revealed on March 14 that Danone was set to also remove Faber from his role as chairman, to be replaced with Gilles Schnepp with immediate effect. “The priority of the Board is now to transition towards an improved governance,” said incoming chairman Gilles Schlepp. “This means accelerating the process to recruit a new CEO, while Véronique and Shane continue to lead the business during this period. I look forward to working with the Board to support them in their interim roles, and the wider management team as they accelerate our efforts to create value for all our stakeholders.” He added: “The Board and I want to thank Emmanuel for his leadership and significant contributions to Danone since 1997, and since 2014 as CEO and then Chairman & CEO and his vision and commitment to One Planet. “One Health is ahead of the industry and has ensured that Danone is a world leader on sustainability. He leaves Danone with a strong platform from which to accelerate and grow. “I also want to take this opportunity to thank Danone employees around the world that continue to work to grow and build the business for all consumers, customers and stakeholders.” Reports state that internal executives were being lined up in order to stand in as CEO until the time when a replacement is appointed. The shakeup came following poor sales results during the coronavirus pandemic and a company reshuffle that the CEO had overseen, prompting major shareholders such as Artisan Partners and Bluebell Capital to replace him.
Their bottled water and yoghurt brands have performed particularly poorly with the pandemic owing to them being the kind of food products one would consume on the go. With restaurants and bars closed and potential consumers being stuck at home, their market has begun to dry up. Two weeks ago, the company announced it would be splitting up the roles of chairman and CEO, resulting in Faber being ousted from his role as CEO. However, shareholders such as Artisan Partners were unhappy with Faber remaining as chairman and looked to remove him from his position entirely and reverse the policies he spearheaded. They felt it would allow Faber to retain too much power and tie the hands of the next CEO. “The new changes announced at Danone violate the most basic of corporate governance standards,” the company wrote in an open letter to the board. Another grievance for the shareholders is due to reports of a Faber ally being placed in an important oversight position rather than allowing Schlepp to hold this role. Visit: www.danone.com
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New developments in Energy & Utilities
Norway Now Europe’s Largest Energy Exporter, Overtaking France by Steven Gislam
orway has overtaken France to become the biggest net exporter of energy in Europe in the second half of 2020 according to a new report on the European electricity market by energy data analyst EnAppSys. The report looked at the value of imports and exports in Europe during the last six months of 2020. It found that Norway’s total net exports amounted to 14 TWh, with most of the power flowing to Sweden (7.2 TWh) and Denmark (4.9 TWh). Alena Nispel, business analyst at EnAppSys, said: “Norwegian water reserves increased steadily during the second half of 2020, due mainly to a combination of wet weather and low demand, and reached a new peak for the first time since 2015.” According to Norway’s state-owned energy company Statkraft, 99% of the country’s power generation comes from hydropower. Statkraft operates 335 hydropower plants in Norway, the terrain making it perfect for the technology. “Norwegian power prices remained low, which made it an attractive economic proposition for other countries to meet their electricity
demand by taking some of that excess water from Norway. Consequently, Norway doubled its net exports to neighbouring countries when compared to the first half of 2020. “Norway’s position as the biggest net energy exporter could remain for some time, especially with neighbouring countries such as Denmark relying on Norway for supplies. In addition, Norway recently launched a new interconnector into Germany, increasing its potential export capacity by 1.4 GW.” Denmark could, however, be about to up the ante with the announcement that it was moving ahead with plans for a gigantic energy island in the North Sea, as well as the smaller 2 GW island off Bornholm in the Baltic Sea announced last November. Having been knocked from the top spot, France became the second-largest net exporter with 11.6 TWh, with Sweden (10.1 TWh) in third place, followed by Germany (9.3 TWh). “During the winter, nuclear generation in France saw limited availability due to delayed power plant maintenance caused by Covid-19. This had a considerable impact on France’s energy trading pattern, as nuclear generation is the largest contributor to the country’s fuel mix. “As a result, France often relied on energy imports from its neighbouring countries – mainly from Spain with a total of 4.5 TWh of energy imports. When France was exporting to Spain, RTE often used counter trading to partly reverse the flow. This also happened on several occasions on the IFA interconnector to Great Britain, where BALIT (cross-border
balancing arrangements) was used to maintain the balance on the grid. “Although Germany has exported more than France, it has also imported more energy. Due to the amount of power flowing through Germany, it can be seen as a key energy transport hub with power flowing from the north-west to the southeast of Europe. “After German coal generation collapsed in the first half of 2020 due to reduced demand and high renewable output, coal made a comeback during the cold winter on the back of a sharp gas price rise and increasing demand (still lower than previous years) and is now back to pre-COVID levels of utilisation.” Considering net exports as a percentage of demand, France only exported about 5.3% of its energy demand. In comparison, Bosnia ranked first with a net export of 34.4% of its demand, followed by Slovenia (26.6%) and Norway (21.9%). Like Norway, Slovenia also relies on hydropower but also includes lignite in its fuel mix. Italy remained the biggest net importer of electricity during the last six months of 2020, sourcing 17.6 TWh from outside of the country. As Italy could not rely on a large volume of imports from France, it instead sourced more energy from Switzerland (9.6 TWh), which also has significant nuclear capacity. The UK was still Europe’s second-biggest net importer, recording net imports of 8.1 TWh in the second half of 2020. For more info, visit: www.enappsys.com
After Long Delays Europe’s Largest Nuclear Reactor Gets Go-Ahead In Finland by Steven Gislam
fter years of delays, runaway costs and heated contractual disagreements, the construction of Europe’s largest nuclear reactor is nearing completion in Eurajoki, Southwest Finland. Built by French-German consortium Areva-Siemens, Olkiluoto 3 is Finland’s fifth nuclear plant. With a capacity of 1,600 MW, it is expected to generate around 14% of the country’s energy. Construction of the reactor began in 2005 with completion originally scheduled for 2009. However, numerous setbacks including faulty components and safety tests have dogged the project’s completion. Twelve years after originally planned, Olkiluoto 3 was granted a charging permit by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority last Friday. 40 Industry Europe
It is anticipated that the new nuclear plant will have a significant impact on the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä said: “We need a lot more clean and secure electricity when the domestic industry becomes electrified. The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority’s charging permit for the Olkiluoto 3 unit is a step towards large-scale clean energy production, which will reduce Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated several million tonnes.” The €3 billion original estimated budget almost tripled to €8.4 billion following the setbacks and technical problems. Lawsuits followed and negotiations between the Areva-Siemens consortium and Finnish nuclear power company TVO are still ongoing. The reactor in Olkiluoto 3 will be loaded with 241 fuel assemblies consisting of 128 tonnes of uranium. Regular power generation is expected to begin in early 2022. Learn more at: www.tvo.fi
ENERGY & UTILITIES NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Saudi Aramco CEO: China’s Energy Security Is “Highest Priority” For 50 Years by Steven Gislam
hina’s energy security is Saudi Aramco’s “highest priority” and will remain so for the next 50 years and beyond, the company’s CEO Amin Nasser has said during a speech he made at the China Development Forum on Sunday. Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of oil in the world and it held its position as China’s main supplier in the first two months of 2021, with volumes up 2.1% to a daily total of 1.86 million barrels, according to data released over the weekend by Chinese customs. Despite the unprecedented cuts to production that were made in a push to stablise the global markets following the cliff-edge drop in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, Saudi beat Russia and kept its position as China’s number one crude supplier in 2020. “Ensuring the continuing security of China’s energy needs remains our highest priority – not just for the next five years but for the next 50 and beyond,” said Nasser in a video speech.
“We appreciate that sustainable energy solutions are crucial to a faster and smoother global energy transition ... But, realistically, this will take some time since there are few alternatives to oil in many areas.” During an earnings call made earlier in the day, Nasser said that Chinese demand was very close to the levels of before the pandemic and that Asia, especially East Asia, had seen a strong pickup. The Aramco CEO said that, as well as being the top supplier for Chinese demand, his company was able to help China reach its energy transition targets. Last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that the country’s carbon emissions would peak in 2030, but that China would be carbon neutral by 2060. Xi’s announcement is expected to create tectonic shifts in Chinese industry, especially the manufacturing and energy sectors. The state-owned oil giant is anticipating further investment opportunities in downstream projects which can help China meet its rapidly burgeoning demand for heavy vehicles, as well as chemicals, lubricants and non-metallic materials, said Nasser. He added that Aramco is partnering with universities and companies in China to develop cleaner fuel systems and technology to convert crude to chemicals and cut carbon emissions from existing energy sources. “In fact, we have even bolder ambitions to expand and intensify our research collaboration with China,” said Nasser, adding that other collaborations are likely, such as blue hydrogen, ammonia and carbon capture tech. Researchers at the China National Petroleum Corp’s (CNPC) institute forecast that, under Xi’s climate pledge, China’s demand for oil will peak in around 2025 at 730 million tonnes. For more info, visit: www.aramco.com
Orsted To Develop Major Green Hydrogen Hub by Steven Gislam
anish energy company Orsted announced on Wednesday its plans to develop one of the world’s largest renewable hydrogen plants to be linked to increased industrial demands in the Netherlands and Belgium. The “Sea2Land” project represents an ambitious vision, with plans to offer industrial-scale electrolysis to the Flemish-North Sea Ports Cluster through a planned cross-border pipeline while the electricity is set to be generated through offshore wind. A number of key industry players support the shift, which will be necessary for the region’s shift to rapid decarbonisation by 2030. The project includes a 1 GW renewable hydrogen production facility. If realised, this could convert around 20% of the region’s hydrogen into renewable energy. With 580,000 tons per year, the North Sea Port cluster is one of the largest production and demand centers of fossil hydrogen in Europe today.
Driven by decarbonisation efforts, industrial demand in the cluster could grow to about 1,000,000 tons by 2050, equivalent to roughly 10 GW of electrolysis. Orsted plans to connect the green hydrogen facility to an offshore wind portfolio of around 2 GW located in the Dutch North Sea. This will enable the large-scale supply of renewable electricity required for the production of renewable hydrogen and fits well with the ambitions of the Dutch authorities for an accelerated offshore wind roll-out in line with increasing electricity demand. The offshore wind farm could be built in one of the zones in the southern part of the Dutch exclusive economic zone that has already been designated for offshore wind development. Subject to a regulatory framework being in place, the regional network will unlock the first phase of SeaH2Land, which comprises 500 MW of electrolyzer capacity.
The second phase of SeaH2Land which scales the electrolyzer capacity to 1 GW will require the possibility to connect to a national hydrogen backbone, providing additional flexibility and storage. The partnership will now move forward and engage in dialogue with the regulatory authorities on the framework and policies needed to support the development of renewable hydrogen linked to large-scale offshore wind, the regional infrastructure, and conduct a full feasibility study of the project. Vsit: www.orsted.com
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ENERGY & UTILITIES NEWS
New developments in the Energy & Utilities
Germany To Pay €2.4bn Compensation For Post-Fukushima Nuclear Shutdown by Steven Gislam
ermany has agreed to pay four energy companies a total of €2.43 billion for forcing them to shut down their nuclear power stations in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. The agreement, which was announced last Friday, will settle the long-running legal disputes between the federal government and the four companies - EnBW, Eon, RWE and Vattenfall. Until now, the parties had been unable to agree on the amount of compensation that should be offered to the operators and on what terms. “This led to years of legal disputes, including before the German constitutional court and an international court of arbitration, which can now be settled,” said a statement by the German government. The decision to close down Germany’s nuclear power stations remains one of Angela Merkel’s most-controversial in her almost 16 years as chancellor, arguably second only to her open-border policy during the refugee crisis in 2015 which allowed almost one million refugees to enter the country. In 2010, her centre-right coalition government said that it would extend the lifetimes of Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations until at least 2036. In March the following year, the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan was hit by a tsunami following an earthquake, causing three nuclear meltdowns and the worst nuclear disaster the country had seen during peacetime. The event marked a turning point in Germany’s attitudes towards nuclear energy. Several days later, more than 40,000 protesters formed a human chain that reached 45 km (28 miles) from the Neckarwestheim nuclear plant to nearby Stuttgart as a demonstration against the government’s nuclear extension plans. In June 2011, Merkel performed a complete u-turn on the issue of nuclear energy, ordering the immediate closure of eight of Germany’s 17 reactors. The ensuing policy also included a timeline for the total phasing out of nuclear power by 2022.
The nuclear phaseout plan received the backing of over 80% of Bundestag members. The only party to vote against it was Die Linke (The Left), which called for a faster timeline. In December 2016, a constitutional court ruling found the phaseout to be lawful but that affected companies were entitled to receive “adequate compensation”. The deal announced on Friday will see the government pay a little over €2.43 billion to the four companies. Vattenfall and RWE will receive €1.43 billion and €880 million respectively. Both companies are being compensated for the residual energy that they are no longer able to generate in their plants. EnBW and Eon will be compensated €80 million and €42.5 million respectively for investments made on the basis of the abandoned 2010 decision to extend the lifetime of nuclear power in Germany. In a statement, Vattenfall CEO Anna Borg said: “This is a conservative implementation of the (constitutional) court decisions in Germany that in the end is acceptable to us.” “We welcome the envisaged agreement as it puts an end to many years of costly and time-consuming disputes around the German nuclear phaseout.” A similar statement released by RWE described the deal as an “important step towards creating legal certainty for all the players”. “It’s also a good signal to strengthen confidence in Germany as a place to do business and to boost the significant investments that must now flow into the restructuring of the energy system,” the statement said. The compensation package should spell the end to the long-running legal disputes that came as a result of the phaseout. Vattenfall, as a foreign company operating in Germany, has brought the German government before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, seeking about €5 billion in damages. For more info, visit: www.enappsys.com
Cyprus, Greece, Israel Ink Deal For World’s Longest Subsea Interconnector by Steven Gislam
project to construct the world’s longest and deepest underwater power interconnector has been given the green light as the governments of Greece, Cyprus and Israel ink a deal to link their electrical grids and allow for greater energy independence. The €760 million “EuroAsia” interconnector project, which is being partly financed by the EU, is set to connect member state Cyprus to the European power network for the first time, as well as the state of Israel. One of the EU’s “projects of common interest”, the interconnector should enable the integration of renewable sources and grant the nations greater energy independence. The 2,000 MW interconnector stands to be an asset to each of the three nations. 42 Industry Europe
Cyprus’ Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said that it was “a decisive step towards ending the island’s energy isolation, and consequently, our dependence on heavy fuels.” The island nation is the only EU member state that is not interconnected. For Israel, the project is seen as a back-up power source. The country’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that it would enable Israel “to receive electricity backing from the power grids of the European continent in times of emergency.” The three nations also agreed to a regional energy alliance, with the aim of exploring and exploiting natural gas resources. The alliance will also provide Cyprus especially a way of pushing back against what it describes as Turkish incursions into its Exclusive Economic Zone. Last year, Cyprus described Turkey as a “pirate state” following continued drilling in its waters.
The subsea interconnector will cover three sections of the Mediterranean Sea, the longest of which, at around 900 km (560 miles) will connect Cyprus to the Greek island of Crete. The other two sections between Crete and the Greek mainland, and between Cyprus and Israel, will both be around 310 km (193 miles). Israel’s Energy Ministry has said the subsea cable will be the longest and deepest in the world, with a total length of 1,500 km (930 miles) and a depth of 2,700 metres (8,850 ft). The section of cable between mainland Greece and Crete is already under construction. Greek power grid operator IPTO has said it expects the section to be finished by 2023. The entire project is scheduled for completion and connection in 2024, with operations to begin the following year, said Israel’s energy ministry. For more info, visit: www.enappsys.com
New developments in Healthcare
Pfizer Vaccine Safe For Adolescents, Trials Suggest by Ash Jones
arly clinical trials conducted for the Covid vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech suggest the jab may be “100% safe and effective” in immunising adolescents as young as 12, the companies claim. The two firms carried out trials in the US on youngsters between 12 and 15 and claim the tests have been successful. Pfizer higher-ups hope rollout on teenagers could begin before the new school year, allowing them to get back to class without worry.
The company are set to send the vaccine for emergency authorisation with a US regulator for use on students next week with the hopes of full rollout by autumn. The vaccine has already been approved in people ages 16 and over. This new study provides insight as to how it could work with those under that age. Experts claim rolling out the vaccine to younger people may be essential in stemming the tide of the pandemic as well as in helping schools return to normal. The trial was conducted on 2,260 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15. There were 18 cases of Covid in the placebo group and none in those given the jab. This means the vaccine could be 100% effective should the trial data hold up in a real-life scenario. The firms also report the vaccine was well-handled with similar sideeffect risks as those found in the 16-25 trials. Side-effects found in the younger group alone were not listed, although the adult trials showed moderate side-effect, such as vaccine pain, headaches and fatigue. Learn more: www.pfizer.co.uk www.biontech.de
EMA Approves New Vaccine Production Plants by Ash Jones
he European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) human health division has approved the construction of several new vaccine production plants in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland as the EU continues to face export issues with the UK. The agency hopes to significantly ramp up vaccine production within the bloc owing to widespread shortages which have hampered its ability to properly tackle the spread of the virus. It is currently expected that each site will develop a different vaccine, with the site in Marburg, Germany, set to commence development of the Pfizer vaccine. The plant specialises in the active substance but will control all aspects of vaccine manufacturing. Another site in Leiden, Netherlands, is set to create doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been in particularly short supply due to export freezes. The EU has pushed some of the blame on the ordeal at the pharmaceutical company owing to its failures to meet supply deadlines. A third facility based in Visp, Switzerland, has been greenlit to produce the Moderna vaccine. 44 Industry Europe
Production processes have been altered slightly to enable a scale-up for vaccine development, the EMA said. The EU is currently involved in a spat over vaccine exports with the UK. On March 25, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to ban the export of the vaccine until the company fulfils the delivery targets set out as part of the contract between the two parties.
The ordeal has led to shortages as the EU has been exporting vaccine doses to countries both within and outside the bloc in order to stem the tide of the pandemic. However, some bloc officials have expressed concern over the export curbs. On March 29,, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has said he is concerned about the threat that potential curbs on EU vaccine exports in light of severe shortages could have on his country’s vaccination programme. Serbia is still relying heavily on the Chinese and Russian vaccines while working with what little imports its receives from the EU into its inoculation programme. The Russian-backed Sputnik vaccine is looking to ramp up production within the EU in order to meet the demand for vaccines owing to the shortfalls in the EU. This is also due to a new wave of vaccine scepticism within the Russian populace which has prompted a slump in demand. Learn more: www.ema.europa.eu
INDUSTRYNEWS Thai Sniffer Dogs Can Detect Covid-19 In Sweat With 95% Accuracy by Ash Jones
niffer dogs trained in Thailand may be able to detect Covid-19 in human sweat with a 95% accuracy - allowing for quick identification of infections in busy areas such as transport hubs according to the trials of a new pilot project. A photo from a trial showing a sniffer dog analysing a sweat sample from a tinned vessel. Credit: Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production via Reuters The six-month project was conducted using six Labradors, which included tasks such as testing an infected patient’s sweat on a spinning wheel of six canned vessels. The dogs are able to detect a volatile organic compound present in the sweat, even if the carrier is asymptomatic, the project’s head said. Professor Kaywalee Chatdarong, who leads the project from the veterinary faculty at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, said: “The dogs take only one to two seconds to detect the virus. Within a minute, they will manage to go through 60 samples.” Direct access to the people infection is not necessary and was not conducted for this test.
All that is required for detection is a sweat sample, which Chatdarong assures would not be difficult in a country such as Thailand, which has a humid climate year-round. The idea that sniffer dogs may be able to trace Covid-19 is something that has seen research across the globe. Chile, Finland and India are also running their own tests on the subject. Similarly, a German veterinary team claims its sniffer dogs have managed to detect Covid-19 in human saliva, with as 94% efficacy rate. In the same interview, Kaywalee said: “The next step is we will put them out in the field,” likely referring to particularly high-density areas.
Russia Looks To Produce Sputnik V Vaccine In Italy Following Demand Surge by Ash Jones
ussia is looking to expand production of the Sputnik V vaccine overseas as it looks to meet the surge in demand following it being sent in for EU certification. Demand for the vaccine domestically has dropped significantly as other options become available but the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which handles the rollout of the vaccine, said has signed an agreement with Swiss-based Adienne to produce more jabs in Italy. Before production can commence the shot will require approval from local regulators, and the region of Lombardy, where the facility will be based. It is to be the first programme within the EU to feature the Sputnik vaccine as it is still awaiting approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The project’s head has also confirmed the investment fund had also signed deals with Germany, Spain and France. More than 1.4 billion doses of the vaccine have been ordered by various nations both inside and outside Europe. The RDIF has outsourced production to countries such as India, China, South Korea and Brazil.
“In the future, when we send them to airports or ports, where there is an influx of commuters, they will be much faster and more precise in detecting the virus than temperature checks.” Coronavirus cases in Thailand have plateaued as the country has been successful in containing the virus. A new wave of infections that hit the nation earlier in the year has begun to fade and only resulted in 88 deaths. Front-line workers have also gained priority for vaccinations in the country, which was done to partly allow its economy - which is heavily based on tourism - to get back up-and-running again.
Professor Kaywalee Chatdarong
However, none of the outsourced facilities have yet to reach full production, which calls into question the timeframe the RDIF will be working towards. In a statement, the RDIF said: “Less than 5% of vaccines produced in Russia have been exported in January and February. These were surplus amounts that did not affect the rollout of the vaccination program in Russia. Vaccination of Russians is without question the key priority in Russia and Russia will become one of the first countries in Europe to vaccinate all citizens who want to be vaccinated.” There has been a wave of both Covid and vaccine hysteria within Russia which has prompted the slump in decline. The RDIF set themselves a goal to develop 33 million doses by the end of the March.
Industry Europe 45
New developments in the Healthcare
Sensyne Health Gets Approval For AI Covid Test Algorithm by Ash Jones
ritish biotech company Sensyne Health has received regulatory approval in the UK for the first of a string of machine learning algorithms for Covid-19 risk prediction. The programme, known under the codename of “SYNE-COV,” analyses over 60 variables in the patient electronic health record to generate a prediction of the likelihood of a Covid-positive patient developing a severe disease - those requiring intensive care of excess ventilation. The prediction, alongside solutions, are presented to doctors and health professionals to offer bespoke management options for patients admitted to hospitals with a Covid infection. SYNE-COV was developed in collaboration with Chelsea & Westminster Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and will now be offered to NHS Trusts across the UK.
It is the first algorithm of its kind to be given approval in the UK. At time of writing, the UK has vaccinated around 15 million people, but active cases continue to be high. The program could help alleviate some of the stress on healthcare services are facing before cases begin to plataeu. The government hopes to have most people in the UK vaccinated by June 21 and is planning on slowly easing lockdown restriction between now and then.
Dominic Conlin, a hospital director for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re excited by the possibilities this offers. This is individualised care by using patients’ own data to stratify risks and predict responses to clinical treatments, informing and supporting clinical decision making. This is a real step in taking forward digital innovation, data integration and analytics to enhance patient care in the NHS.” Lord Paul Drayson PhD, theCEO of Sensyne Health, said: “This is the first Sensyne Clinical AI algorithm to achieve regulatory approval that has been developed using our SENSE clinical AI platform. “The SENSE engine is expected to be able to generate clinical algorithms across a range of medical conditions that will provide real-time clinical decision making support. Achieving the first regulatory approval is an important milestone for the Company and we look forward to being able to roll SYNE-COV out to the NHS.” Learn more: www.sensynehealth.com
Jazz Pharmaceuticals Break Into Cannabis Medicines With GW Purchase by Ash Jones
ublin-based Jazz Pharmaceuticals has agreed to purchase GW Pharmaceuticals, a pioneer in cannabis-based medicines from the UK in a $7.2 billion deal in a bid to expand its neuroscience division. The deal is expected to come into fruition in the second quarter of 2021 and will give Jazz access to Epidiolex, a drug developed by GW to treat childhood epilepsy, which became the first cannabinoid to receive US approval in 2018. There have been greater moves across the globe for the legalisation of both medicinal and recreational marijuana use, providing a fast-growing pharmaceutical market, particularly in the EU and North America. Medicinal marijuana use was legalised in the UK in November 2018 following several high-profile cases of children suffering from epilepsy having their symptoms reduced through the use of cannabis oil. Cannabis use has also been linked with the ability to cure chronic pain and is often prescribed for conditions such as arthritis. Bruce Cozadd, chairman and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, said: “We are joining two teams that share a passion for, and track record of, developing differentiated therapies that advance science and transform the lives of patients. This will help facilitate a successful integration and bring added capabilities to Jazz. “Given the strength of our balance sheet and the meaningful financial drivers of the transaction, we are confident in the value we can deliver to both companies’ shareholders and patients. We look forward to welcoming the GW team to Jazz to build an even stronger company.” Justin Gover, CEO of GW Pharmaceuticals, said: “We have a shared vision of developing and commercializing innovative medicines that address significant 46 Industry Europe
unmet needs in neuroscience and an approach of putting patients first. Together, we will have an opportunity to reach and impact more patients through a broader portfolio of neuroscience-focused therapies than ever before.” Jazz wishes to expand its portfolio to include treatment for things such as sleeping disorders, oncology and various epilepsies. The company also hopes the partnership can grow the medicinal cannabis market and stimulate sustainable growth. The transaction has been unanimously approved by both companies’ board of directors and is subject to approval by GW shareholders as well as sanction by the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. GW was founded more than two decades ago to push for medical innovations for cannabinoids. Its most widely-used product is Sativex, a drug for multiple sclerosis, which has been approved in over 30 countries. Learn more: www.jazzpharma.com
INDUSTRYNEWS AI Glove To Improve Hand Grip For Millions With Muscle Weakness
by Steven Gislam
robotic glove based on AI technology could soon be helping millions of people recover muscle grip in their hands after securing support from the Edinburgh Business School’s (EBS) Incubator, based at Heriot-Watt University. The glove is aimed at the millions of people who suffer from hand weakness because of muscle mass loss as they age or due to illnesses like Multiple sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease and carpal tunnel syndrome. Using Electromyography (EMG) to measure electrical activity in response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle, the glove detects a user’s intention to grip. It then employs an algorithm to convert the intention into force, helping the user to hold an item or apply the necessary pressure to complete an activity. The technology is expected to help with a wide range of day-to-day tasks including opening jars, driving and pouring a cup of tea. The lightweight glove is the first product from BioLiberty, a Scottish start-up founded by four recent engineering graduates. Co-founder Ross O’Hanlon, 24, was motivated to start the company when his aunt was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis and began to lose movement. Finding little support for individuals unable to grip with their hands, Ross noticed simple tasks like changing the TV channel or drinking water were becoming difficult for her. O’Hanlon explained: “Being an engineer, I decided to use technology to tackle these challenges head-on with the aim of helping people like my aunt to retain their autonomy. As well as those affected by illness, the population
continues to age and this places increasing pressure on care services. We wanted to support independent living and healthy ageing by enabling individuals to live more comfortably in their own homes for longer. “While there are many gadgets on the market that address a specific grip challenge such as tools to help open jars, I wanted an all-encompassing solution to support a range of daily tasks. We founded BioLiberty while studying and we’ve already achieved a working prototype but, with a background in engineering, converting a good idea into a successful business can be overwhelming. “I hope to inspire other entrepreneurs to take the next step. Businesses don’t need a lot of money to start because a good idea can help access the support networks out there. The Edinburgh Business School Incubator has an incredible programme for early-stage businesses like ours, supporting challenges all new companies face including the drive for additional funding, marketing, networking, scaling and forging collaborations.” Kallum Russell is the Business Incubator Manager at the Edinburgh Business School. He said: “Heriot-Watt University is renowned for its
robotics and AI expertise with a strong focus on the development of assisted living technology within the National Robotarium. “As the impact of the pandemic further erodes the economy, access to support services for business owners has been curtailed. As a result, incubators like ours are even more valuable in supporting the development of innovative new products and services which will help drive economic recovery and growth. “This month, we’re welcoming seven new companies into the Incubator and, while striving to minimise the impact of lockdown on these fledgeling companies, we’ll support their growth using a range of virtual seminars, speaker opportunities, networking events and mentoring services. The types of businesses we support are wide-ranging with this year’s intake including a mobile app to reduce printing receipts, a circular clean energy solution and an American style brewery. We will be working with them to identify suitable markets, pivoting plans where required to factor in the impact of the pandemic.” Once companies leave the Incubator, the University’s Global Research Innovation and Discovery facility supports next-stage business growth through accelerated scale-up and development processes. Bringing together entrepreneurial talent with academia and enterprise expertise to tackle global challenges to drive the future economy, GRID has successfully supported companies ranging from technology to enable earlier cancer diagnoses to flat-pack solar thermal collectors designed for use in impoverished countries. Learn more: www.hw.ac.uk
Lidl US Offers $200 Extra Pay For Employees Who Get The Coronavirus Vaccine by Ash Jones
idl US has announced a new initiative to get people to vaccinate against Covid-19 by offering a $200 pay rise for employees to get their jabs against the virus. The offer extends nationwide and is designed to offset the costs associated with vaccine administration, including travel costs and healthcare. The company will also accommodate employee schedules around vaccine appointments. This comes as part of Lidl’s initiative to keep their employees in good health. In January 2020, Lidl decided to offer full comprehensive medical cover for both its full-time and part-time employees, regardless of the number of hours they work per week. According to an internal survey, Lidl employees are eager to receive their vaccines with 8/10 of those quizzed admitting they’d get one as soon as they are made available.
Lidl will be notifying workers of information relating to the availability of vaccines. Johannes Fieber, CEO of Lidl US, said: “We are proud to provide our employees with the resources they need to receive the COVID-19 vaccine free of any obstacles. “From the outset of the pandemic, we have worked hard to put the health and safety of our employees first. From offering free COVID-19 healthcare to our entire workforce to installing hospital-grade air filtration in our stores and warehouses to assure cleaner and healthier air, Lidl has made it a priority to adapt our policies to work better for our people during this pandemic. “We are proud to do so again today to ensure that every team member who wants to get vaccinated is able to do so as soon as possible.” Industry Europe 47
ALUMINIUM IN ALL FORMS Italy-based Profilglass offers a wide range of aluminium profiles, tubes and flat-rolls designed for a number of sectors. As the drive for sustainability increases globally, the company is set to make use of the emerging opportunities.
48 Industry Europe
METALS & MINING
co-sustainable, lightweight, resistant, non-toxic, easy to mould and process, aluminium has some unique properties which, when enhanced by suitable processing, make it ideal for a wide range of applications. Profilglass promotes the potential and qualities of aluminium not only for the growth of its clients but also in order to build a better future: the raw material the company processes is 100 % recyclable and versatile, suitable for many applications across a range of sectors from construction to automotive.
Four decades of growth Founded in Fano in 1982 by the brothers Giancarlo and Stefano Paci, Profilglass has grown quickly within a vertical structure, to the point of completing the aluminium cycle and diversifying its business.
The company initially produced spacing and decoration profiles for double glazing, as is still reflected in its name. In 2000, the company expanded both capacity and staff numbers and entered the flat-rolled products sector in response to the increasing demand for high-quality aluminium products. Today, with over 250,000 tons of aluminium processed every year, Profilglass has attained a leading position at international level, exporting to more than 85 countries, continuing to focus on innovations and responding to evolving market requirements. The company runs state-of-the-art production facilities. The foundry, the first raw material transformation point, is equipped with modern plate pouring furnaces and advanced degassing and filtering systems which guarantee high quality standards. The six lines for continuous casting are fitted with furnaces using
Industry Europe 49
innovative liquid metal treatment systems which allow for perfect homogenising, as well as degassing and filtering devices which ensure the correct quality standards in aluminium. At its 30th anniversary, Profilglass invested in a hot rolling mill that optimised the production processes and increased the company’s product range. Fitted with the most advanced control systems, and in compliance with high quality standards, it is designed for hot lamination of about 150,000 tons/year of aluminium plates up to 4 mm thick. The production technologies are rounded out by cold rolling, heat treatment and surface treatment. Recent investment includes two impressive cutting lines, delivered by Salico, for automotive and aerospace applications. De-coiling, levelling, slitting with final recoiling of edge-trimmed coils or in multislit formats are some of the functions featured in the combo-line designed to process aluminium coils. The Covid-19 pandemic did not delay the project, which was completed quickly and efficiently. 50 Industry Europe
METALS & MINING
Wide range From the company’s very beginnings, spacers and decorative profiles for double glazing have been its core product group, and the one that has made Profilglass a world leader in this segment. The profiles, 250 different types, are available in standard version, bendable, anodised and in different painted colours. The flat-rolled product range includes a wide range of shapes including discs, sheets, strips, triangles and bands; tailor-made solutions are also available. Tubes are made in Eurotubi, one of the group’s companies, a leader in the production of electrically welded aluminium pipes in different alloys, sizes and surface appearances, offered in 6-70 mm diameter sizes. In 2017, Profilglass established LamiAl, a new company within the group, with a view to expanding the parent company’s experience and competence into automotive, transport and industrial applications. Using LamiAl’s advanced production technologies from cold-rolling to surface treatment, materials are processed to the very highest quality standards to meet the ever-increasing demands of the specific sectors.
Green and clean Profilglass bases its values on environmental and social sustainability, promoting “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Report, 1987). Starting with the features of the raw material used, ideal for improving the quality of life and of the environment, Profilglass applies policies aimed at recovery and recycling to minimize environmental impact, with a focus on continuous improvement.
The company strives to reduce energy consumption and resources employed, as well as waste, and to mitigate its overall environmental footprint. Every effort has been made to ensure its facilities are as environmentally friendly as possible: recent investments include a large-scale photovoltaic system – one of the largest solar parks in Italy. “Working with aluminium means looking to the future, developing products with a high added value for the future and for the growth of new sectors. This is why we strive for ongoing progress, constantly assessing the usefulness of actions and investment aimed at optimizing quality, safety, costs and times for products and processes. We will continue to meet dynamic market requirements and to keep offering cutting-edge solutions,” affirms the management, as stated n on the company website. Industry Europe 51
Recoiling Section in Combi Levelling and Slitting Line
SUCCESSFUL COMMISSIONING OF AUTOMOTIVE CUTTING LINES AT PROFILGLASS Following the impressive growth path of our all-time customer PROFILGLASS, Salico has recently delivered and started up Combi Levelling and Slitting Line two very impressive Cutting Lines along with a Tension Levelling & Cleaning Line for applications in the automotive and aerospace sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic did not hinder the teams from concluding the project quickly, efficiently, and successfully
Stacker of Cut to Length Line
Combi Levelling and Slitting Line The Combi-line – so called because of its ability to combine Decoiling, Levelling, Slitting and Recoiling – is designed to process a wide range of aluminium coils of up to: • • •
25 tonnes with a maximum outer diameter of 2,500 mm. Strips with a width of up to 2,500 mm, ranging 0.5 to 5.0mm in thickness. A Maximum Slitting Capacity of 35 slits at a line speed of 400m/min.
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Floor level Pre-cleaning Section in Tension Levelling Line
Strip Levelling is performed using a Leveller which features a 6-high Cassette design. Since Slit Shearing is carried out using slitting tools, every time a different tool is needed, the change is carried out automatically with the Auto Slitting Tooling Changeover, which takes just five minutes. Slitting Tools are secured in position by an Auto Locking mechanism designed by Salico. The unit is completed with a Scrap Chopper and Conveyor. The Auto Slitting Tooling Changeover is complemented by the Robotized Slitting
Second floor Fine Cleaning Section in Tension Levelling Line
Tooling Setup, featuring the Salico proprietary robotic system. The Salico Bridle is the perfect complement to the Recoiling area and guarantees a totally scratch-free surface even for most sensitive processed materials. Adjustments to the separator discs is done in totally automatically via a robotic Salico system. Electrical Cubicles, engineered and manufactured by Salico Automation, are fitted into dedicated climatised containers, which come
METALS & MINING
Cut To Length Line overview
with office space and pedestrian & maintenance access doors, installed five metres above floor level, saving space in the rear of the Line. PVC Foil Application is provided upstream to the Slitting Shear and Paper Foil application in the Recoiling area. The line ends with an Exit Coil Turnstile equipped with high-efficiency Circumferential Strapping Facility, designed by Salico, which allows for the maximum run uptime of the Line.
Cut To Length Line The Line allows for the cutting of aluminium sheets of up to 10 metres from coils of 25 tonnes in weight, with an outer diameter of 2,500 mm, a width of 2,500 mm, and thickness ranging from 0.8 to 9.0 mm. Downstream to the Decoiling function, an Edge Trimming facility removes any jagged or uneven edges, cutting them away from the mother strip. This ensures uniform edges on the mother strip and avoids the chance of bringing debris or contaminants into the machine. The Levelling Machine, which features a 6-high Cassette design, is provided with no.
2 Roller Cassettes to perform strip levelling across the entire range of material thickness. The main machine’s features include the Automatic Cassette Change, and positioning of the upper “cassette” half along the “X” and “Y” axis. “Localised corrections” are made in the lower “cassette” and recovery of backlash screws-down into the upper part of the Machine via a dedicated hydraulic circuit, also designed by Salico. The Salico Rotary Shear, the undisputed leader in the field of Rotary Shears, helps to maximise the performance of the Mega Vacuum Stacker which completes the Line. The upper PVC foil and the lower paper foil applications are applied upstream from the Rotary Shear. Non-stop sheet stacking of up to a maximum length of 5,000 mm is performed via two Stacking Platforms working alternatively, while Stop Stacking allows for production of sheets up to 10,000 mm long.
The Line is a unique two-floor design. The ground level is dedicated to Pre-cleaning and Tension Levelling of the Aluminium strip, and the upper floor is reserved for Fine Cleaning. The pre-cleaning section is downstream to Decoiling and Edge Trimming. Its functions is to send the aluminium strip to the Tension Levelling Unit free from debris and possible contaminants which might impair the end-quality of the product. Cleaning of the ground and upper floors is done with the use of alkaline cleaning solutions in the Salico-designed Treatment Cellar. The Line ends with a Recoiling Section which features a plastic film application on both sides of the processed strip, while a Salico-designed Belt Wrapper guarantees the efficient engagement of the Aluminium strip leading edge with the n Recoiler Mandrel.
Tension Levelling & Cleaning Line The Line is designed to process aluminium coils of 1,650 mm in width, weighing up to 12 tonnes, and ranging in material thickness of 0,2 to 2,0 mm.
Tension Levelling Unit Tension Levelling Line
Belt Wrapper in Tension Levelling Line
Treatment Cellar of Alkaline Solutions in Tension Levelling Line
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MAGNESIA GMBH – HIDDEN
CHAMPION FROM GERMANY PLAYS SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN THE GLOBAL MARKET OF MINERAL COMPOUNDS Magnesia is a specialist supplier of high-quality mineral compounds. Its high-grade raw materials come with a comprehensive service - from initial consultation to procurement, through to shipment of goods. Managing Directors Markus Cording and Johann Studtmann explain in an interview what Magnesia’s core business is, where their roots lie and what the company is planning for the upcoming years.
ith its headquarters in Lüneburg, approximately 50 kilometres south of Hamburg, the company draws on a long tradition of saltworks going back to the mid-10th century. In the early 1980s, after some 1,000 years the operation of the Lüneburg saltworks came to an end. Magnesia was founded as the successor company, re-starting the trade in mineral compounds. Today, the company employs 50 people and trades more than 15,000 metric tons of mineral compounds across the entire world. 54 Industry Europe
The company is considered to be one of the top distribution partners and a point of reference for magnesium, calcium and other mineral compounds for the pharma, cosmetics, food, nutritional and technical sectors across Europe. The reasons for this position are manifold - its central location within Europe with great logistics links and - most importantly - the combination of its special expertise and utmost customer focus.
METALS & MINING
Markus Cording said: “Our comprehensive know-how regarding the markets and products, followed by the qualification processes of products and suppliers, providing a quick and personal customer service - from the enquiry to the final delivery - is what is valued most. We can leverage our experience and knowledge from the past and pass it on to new colleagues to continuously improve the level of consultancy for our customers, with the aim of finding the right compound for their applications.”
Market knowledge As its very name suggests, the company is specifically strong in magnesium oxide products, offering more than 50 different grades with different product specifications. “All these different grades are the basis for use in different industrial applications for a broad variety of industry segments,” explains Johann Studtmann. “Not only the oxides but all types of compounds are carefully selected from the best manufacturers around the globe in order to present a broad variety of possible products to our customers.” This exceptional market knowledge is also one of the company’s competitive advantages - to be able to provide sound advice to customers, specialisation in their fields of application is needed. Magnesia has achieved this by having established individual business units by industry segment, i.e. pharma and cosmetics, nutritional and health supplements, food and international business, technical magnesia and the recently added lightweight fillers. “With this business structure, we are able to understand the customers’ needs, to source the right products in the market and to provide fast and reliable solutions,” says Mr Cording adding that as some of the markets that the company serves are highly regulated, seamless regulatory and documentary support is a part of their services.
At the forefront Innovation is a key concept at Magnesia. Responding to evolving market requirements, the company is set to expand the product portfolio to include the “Magnesia Exclusive” range. To this end, the company added a new “Lightweight Fillers” business unit in 2020, aiming to become Europe’s specialist in this type of products over the next 3-5 years.
The pandemic has accentuated another trend that was already on the rise – the focus on healthy food and healthy living. This opens the door to new opportunities as Magnesia’s range of products suitable for healthy food supplements already matches the trends. “We are committed to supporting consumer health; everyday feedback from the market indicates promising potential in this segment,” affirms Mr Studtmann. Speaking of future developments, he points out that Magnesia’s strategy will increasingly focus on digitisation. “Digital transformation in traditional distribution is a daily challenge that we have to accept. In this context, we are developing a white label product range. This new business model extends our current value chain and will make us into a digital hub. This will allow us to offer types of off-the-shelf products that customers can immediately sell in their existing distribution channels.”
Strategy for the future Magnesia’s global success rests on its people - the company’s core asset. To support business growth, the management is going to continue investing in its staff’s professional development across the range of specialist departments, as well as in strengthening the team. Despite the negative consequences of the pandemic, the company increased staff numbers by 20% in 2020. “We believe that only with supported and motivated people can a company achieve its business goals and succeed,” Cording added. Reflecting on the future, he affirms that Magnesia’s strategy will focus on digitisation, offering innovative solutions and exclusive partnership for new products in the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical segments. “We also need to increase our responsibility for environmental protection. Sustainability in our daily operations, in the selection of products as well as suppliers, is becoming even more important. Therefore, significantly reducing our CO2 footprint over the next 2 n years will be an important part of our strategy.”
Managing Director Markus Cording Managing Director Johann Studtmann
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New developments in Metals & Mining
Poland To Host First EU Battery Recycling Plant by Steven Gislam
oland is set to host the EU’s first recycling plant for both car batteries and other metals which contain waste as part of the bloc’s response to the rapid rise of electric vehicles. The company running the project is Elemental Holding, which specialises in the collection and recycling of electrical waste and platinum-group metals. Based in the town of Grodzisk Mazowiecki in central Poland, Elemental Holding will receive a €25 million loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to construct the new facility which will treat spent lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and other waste containing metals which are vital for eMobility. EBRD Manufacturing and Services Director Frederic Lucenet described the project as a shining example of how new technology and progress is working hand in hand with the green economy. “The EBRD is actively supporting Poland’s ambitious agenda to become a low-carbon economy and has already financed several large e-mobility projects with domestic and foreign investors,” said Lucenet. Elemental Holding Vice President Michal Zygmunt said that the project was a reflection
of his company’s strategy of focusing on the recovery and refining of critical raw materials to be applied in low-carbon tech and innovations. The company says that the new recycling plant will deploy state-of-the-art technology which is supplemented and partly financed by the Polish National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR) with the additional support of the European Commission. The facility will also produce secondary metals and other materials which can be reused as raw materials in new batteries or in other applications a service which the EBRD said is “essential” for the lithium-ion battery value chain. The Bank added that the batteries are a core component of electric vehicles, sales of which look certain to quickly overtake those of combustion engine-powered vehicles as the transition to a low-carbon economy accelerates.
In 2019, the European Commission produced a report which was critical of Poland for its low municipal recycling rate of 44%, which fell short of the EU’s 50% target. The project is being seen as a bid by Warsaw to shake off its reputation as one of Europe’s big polluters. According to the EBRD, the new battery recycling facility will help cut emissions in Poland and across the EU, as well as providing support for the eMobility sector’s circular economy. The production and use of recycled batteries and metals can lead to carbon savings of as much as 98% compared with their primary counterparts, as well as being a more efficient use of scarce natural resources. Reusing lithium-ion batteries is seen as a critical part of the transition to a low-carbon economy. Lithium - which is a core component on electric vehicles, laptops, tablets and smartphones, is a reactive alkali metal, the extraction of which takes a serious toll on the environment. In South America’s Lithium Triangle, which covers parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, 1.9 million litres of water is used to mine one tonne of lithium. There are also reports of the mineral’s leakage into water supplies near factories, while Friends of the Earth says lithium extraction harms the soil and causes air contamination. For more info, visit: www.elemental.biz
German Geothermal Project May See World’s First Carbon-Neutral Lithium by Ash Jones
geothermal extraction project in Germany is set to produce the world’s first fully certified carbon-neutral lithium, a key mineral in the development of car batteries and other electronics. The project will see Australia’s Vulcan Energy team up with British traceability specialists Circulor with the intention of making the lithium value chain fully traceable and dynamic in what the two firms describe as “a first for the sector.” The partnership plans to offer lithium-ion batteries a far more sustainable future as the world looks to shift away from carbon-intensive manufacturing - a large last hurdle in the way to fully green engines. It will also help to ensure European automakers meet their sustainability objectives for traceability and CO2 transparency. Production is planned to start in 2024, following a pilot project. Vulcan plans to produce both renewable geothermal energy and lithium hydroxide for batteries in Germany’s Upper Rhine Valley, which it claims can “satisfy Europe’s needs for the electric vehicle transition, from a zero-carbon source, for many years to come.” However, sceptics have questioned whether geothermal lithium production can become economically viable, with local figures opposing the idea over earthquake fears. 56 Industry Europe
Australia is currently the dominant force in lithium mining, followed closely by Chile, Argentina and China. The world’s largest lithium deposits are concentrated in three South American countries: Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, which together represent 60% of currently available resources. Lithium mining in this region has become associated with severe water risks in an area that is already one of the driest places on Earth. Mining pulls up salty brine from reservoirs under the desert, which have rendered drinking water sources unusable. Visit: www.v-er.eu
METALS & MINING NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Leading Tech & Auto Firms Sign Up To WWF’s Deep-Sea Mining Moratorium by Steven Gislam
MW, Google, Samsung SDI and Volvo have become the first major companies to sign up to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) proposed moratorium on deep-sea mining, the organisation has announced. The WWF has said that by signing up, the companies are committing that they will not source any minerals from the seabed, exclude those minerals from supply chains, and not invest in any deep-sea mining activities. Deep-sea mining involves the extraction of minerals that are key in battery production, such as cobalt, copper, manganese and nickel, from small nodules strewn across the ocean floor at depths of between 4 to 6 kilometres. They are particularly abundant in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the North Pacific Ocean, which spans millions of kilometres between Mexico and Hawaii. “With much of the deep-sea ecosystem yet to be explored and understood, such activity would be recklessly short-sighted,” WWF said in a statement. The WWF moratorium also calls for a ban on deep-sea mining until such time as the risk are better and more fully understood and all other alternatives are exhausted. BMW has said that, at the moment, raw materials from deep-sea mining are “not an option” because there has not been enough scientific research assessing the environmental risks. The WWF move comes at a time when a number of deep-sea mining companies are moving forward with preparations and research on seabed licence areas. Some of the companies that already hold vast swathes of the ocean floor include GSR, DeepGreen and UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of
Lockheed Martin’s UK company. The companies are hoping to sell minerals from the deep sea to battery companies and automakers. DeepGreen has said previously that mining on the seabed will be more sustainable than on land because it produces less waste, and the nodules that contain the minerals have higher concentrations of metals than those found on land. Meanwhile, Norway has said it expects to issue licences for deep-sea mining in its waters by 2023, possibly making it one of the first countries to harvest metals from the seabed. For more info, visit: wwf.panda.org
Russian Gold Giant Polyus Pivots To Hydropower by Steven Gislam
ussia’s largest gold mining company Polyus has announced it will power its two biggest mines with hydropower in a major step towards emissions reduction by private businesses in the country’s vast industrial sector. Polyus signed an agreement with hydropower producer RusHydro to supply its Olimpiada and Blagodatnoye mines with energy, which currently comes from coal-fuelled power plants. The agreement will see 90% of Polyus’ gold production being powered by
renewables, thus reducing its overall emissions by one-third. Oil and gas producers, mining and metal smelting dominate the Russian economy, helping to make it the fourth-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. The economic significance of Russia’s industrial sector allows it a certain level of protection by the Kremlin, but climate change is becoming an increasingly important topic in the country which is witnessing rapid temperature rise in northern Siberia and the Arctic, melting permafrost, floods and annual forest fires. In a statement, Polyus CEO Pavel Grachev said that the hydropower agreement “represents a landmark event for our company. Climate change is a global challenge, and it is important that as a responsible business we support the decarbonisation of the global economy.” Polyus is the fourth-largest producer of gold in the world and the company says that the RusHydro
deal allows for around 1bn kWh of electricity supply for the two mines this year. The news comes on the heels of a five-year deal announced last October to supply renewable energy to Polyus’ Natalka mine in the country’s far east. Russia is the seventh-largest producer of hydropower in the world with many Soviet-era dams still in operation. Around 20% of the country’s energy comes from hydropower. Nonetheless, studies suggest that Russia is presently using just 20% of its hydropower potential with usage limited by infrastructure issues, poor grid network and the country’s sheer size, not to mention the historical dominance of coal and coalfired power plants and the protection that the coal sector receives from Moscow. While President Vladimir Putin has given his enthusiastic endorsement to the Paris Agreement, with the understanding that a pledge to ensure 2030 emissions are 33 per cent lower than 1990 levels requires no additional actions given the huge drop in emissions following the collapse of the USSR in 1991. Visit: www.polyus.com Industry Europe 57
New developments in Politics & Economics
Net-Zero Transition At UK Exports To EU Drop As Brexit Disrupts Trade by Ash Jones Top Of The Agenda In he UK’s trade with the EU hit an all-time low in the month, which also could have been aided by Timports January as exports into the EU fell by 40% while vaccine rollout. G7 Talks, Says UK saw a tumble, according to the latest data Government ministers have claimed the by Steven Gislam
UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
conomic policymakers from the Group of Seven (G7) countries discussed on Tuesday ways in which to reform their economies in order to meet their net-zero emissions targets, according to the UK, this year’s chair. “Finance ministers and central bank governors discussed the key roles of their ministries and central banks in the transition to net-zero, and how climate policies complement and amplify the role of the private sector in financing climate action,” Britain’s finance ministry said in a statement. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak told those at the meeting that they needed to double down on their plans to achieve the G7’s aim of creating a climate finance pool of $100 billion, the statement said. Today (April 7), Sunak is expected to call on the G20 to also step up their efforts in tackling climate change and to help the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in making climate change a key component of its activities. The ministry also said that tomorrow, he will discuss further support measures for vulnerable countries and a new way of allocating the IMF’s financial reserves in the form of an internal currency known as special drawing rights (SDRs). Last month IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that she would present the IMF board with a formal proposal for a potential $650 billion expansion of SDRs by June. 58 Industry Europe
from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Imports saw a drop of 28.8% in the same time frame, with both seeing the lowest numbers since records began in 1997. ONS data suggests similar pitfalls did not occur with trade with nations from outside the EU, suggesting the problem has occurred due to disruptions from Brexit. However, the factors leading to the shrink are likely temporary, the firm added. Overall, the British economy shrank by 2.9% in 2020 which has been widely attributed to the third lockdown that came into effect shortly before Christmas. The economy is now 9% smaller than it was before the coronavirus pandemic. UK exports to Ireland fell by 47% when compared with the previous month, seeing the sharpest fall across UK destinations. Manufacturing has also seen a massive decline through the pandemic, despite much of industry being cushioned by the rollout of vaccines. Jonathan Athow, an ONS analyst, told the BBC: “Manufacturing also saw its first decline since April with car manufacturing falling significantly. However, increases in health services from both vaccine rollout and increased testing partially offset the declines in other industries.” Economic health reportedly increased by 8.7% in January, mainly through the UK’s swift vaccine rollout and response, which has gone some way to allaying public fears concerning the end of the pandemic. The ONS has also suggested that levels began to return to normal towards the end of
reports of border rules and restrictions were a temporary setback, but the issue presents wider issues. The government have admitted the figures are not as bad as they seem. In a statement, The Cabinet Office said: “A unique combination of factors, including stockpiling last year, Covid lockdowns across Europe, and businesses adjusting to our new trading relationship, made it inevitable that exports to the EU would be lower this January than last.” The end of the Brexit transition period came around just as new strains of the vaccine started to emerge, which resulted in extra precautions for those working in industries such as freighting and shipping, as tests became compulsory to enter the continent. In terms of raw figures, exports into the EU fell by £5.3 billion (€6.2 billion) in 2021, whereas imports fell by £8.9 billion (€10.4 billion). The slumps in imports were largely seen in areas such as machinery and transport equipment, as well as medical and pharmaceutical products. By contrast, the healthcare sector made strides in aiding economic growth for January, seeing an 8.7% rise, mainly owing to Covid testing and vaccination programmes. However, ONS data has suggested many of the disturbances faces early on are being dealt with and trade is becoming easier. Figures show numbers started to bounce-back by the end of January, signalling the potential for economic growth as the year continues. Visit: www.ons.gov.uk
Photo: Flickr: Dunk
POLITICS & ECONOMICS NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Greenland Election Casts Doubt On Future Of Its Mining Sector by Ash Jones
left-wing political party opposed to a big mining project has won the Greenland election after securing more than one-third of the votes in the recent snap election. The victory of the Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party with a 37% majority may cast into doubt the Kvanefjeld mining complex in the south of the country which is one of a number of initiatives to exploit Greenland’s relatively untapped and vast natural resources, particularly rare earths. IA won a victory over the centre-left social-democratic and pro-mining Siumut party, which has been in power since 1979. The Kvanefjeld mining complex is currently owned by Australian mining company Greenlandic Minerals and has divided the nation’s politics for the past decade. It has already spent more than $100 million (€84.1 million) preparing the mine and has proven processing technology through its Chinese partner Shenghe Resources. Many locals see the mining industry as essential in it becoming economically independent from Denmark, but the mine has been a contentious topic for years. The nation is only home to 56,000 people and has a flourishing independence movement despite its relative autonomy from Denmark. It is significant for the global mining industry but has yet to be opened. The mine being greenlit was one of the primary reasons for the snap election which was held on April 6. Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen, who paved the way for the project’s approval, lost the leadership of Siumut to Erik Jensen, a forward secretary for the party in late November.
Kielsen expressed doubt about the mine, which caused his coalition partners, the Demokraatit party, to leave the government, costing Kielsen his majority. The IA themselves are not directly opposed to mining in Greenland but have a strong environmental focus, which puts them at odds with much of the mining sector, which is considered to be a “high-risk” sector for decarbonisation as well as its exploitation of natural resources. Its leader Mute Egede will be the first to form a new government and may look to Naleraq, a pro-independence party that also opposes the Kvanefjeld mine. Visit: www.ggg.gl
Britain’s Inmarsat Sues Dutch Government Over 5G Switch by Ash Jones
K-based provider Inmarsat has sued the government of the Netherlands after it planned to reallocate crucial infrastructure used for maritime safety services to allow telecoms companies to use spectrum for 5G service. The company is taking the matter to the civil court to seek an injunction over what it sees as a breach of both national and international law. Inmarsat claims the reallocation wasn’t necessary as spectrum can easily host both the existing maritime services and 5G connections without interference. “Spectrum” refers to a set of frequencies used to carry wireless signals. It claims its services could be jeopardized if the plan goes through as it stands, claiming it has sought an amicable solution to the problem in the past and has accused the Ministry of Economic Affairs of “intransigence” over the stalemate.
In a statement, the company said relocation of its services could cause risks and be associated with high costs. It added: “Inmarsat wishes to continue safety services from Burum, on which millions of seafarers and aviation passengers and crew depend daily, alongside its commercial operations there. “However, should a move be forced on Inmarsat, then the proposed timing of the changeover in frequency use in the NFP is unrealistic and will require a long transitional term to carry out the wholly avoidable move.” An Inmarsat spokesperson claims the company only use 25% of the 3.5 GHz spectrum for its platforms, which would easily allow for 5G services to share the frequencies. The company has operated the so-called “big ears” in the north of the country for decades. The Burum facility acts as a centre for maritime safety for the adjoining waters, provided free-of-charge.
The company claims as many as 2 million seafarers are supported by the site. Giving the wireless operators full use of the frequencies may force Inmarsat to use Burum as a ground station for its services on top of the platforms it already provides. Visit: www.inmarsat.com
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New developments in the Politics & Economics
EC President Sets Out Vision For European Industry In Speech by Steven Gislam
n the first EU Industry Days event since 2019 – and the first in the Covid-era - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen kicked off the week’s proceedings with a speech championing the contribution that innovation and industry have made to European culture and identity over the years and looked to what is next for the bloc’s industrial direction. Recalling a visit she had made to a familyowned textile factory during her time as a minister in Germany, the president said how the owner could explain the workings of every machine and knew the personal stories of his employees. “When the pandemic hit, that same company converted its production lines and started making facemasks,” she said, underlining how so many companies across the continent had pivoted production to help out during the crisis, adding: “At the same time, they have adopted the latest environmental standards, because this is what European customers expect today.” “European industry,” she told her virtual audience, is “a world of old traditions and constant innovation. And this is what makes Europe a global leader in so many fields from automotive to agri-food, from farmer to fashion. All across the world 'Made in Europe' means top quality.” Continuing to highlight the strengths of European industry and the direction of its movement, she described the continent as being at the forefront of green innovation. “Since the beginning of the century, we have produced over 60,000 high-value green inventions. More than any other global power. And six times more than China. One-quarter of industrial robots in the world are produced in Europe. We are global leaders for collaborative robots – robots that do not replace workers on the production line but enhance their skills. This is the kind of innovation that will keep Europe competitive in today’s world.” Inevitably, the Commission President addressed the events of the previous year and described how the lessons of the pandemic could be used as opportunities to learn, so that the scenes from 2020, where border closures and queues of trucks became common sights, as nations began to lock down as coronavirus spread, would not happen again. “To be prepared for future crisis we need to look beyond these ad hoc measures. We need to
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have a structural solution in place. This is why we are working on a single market emergency instrument. It will ensure the free movement of goods, services, and people. With greater transparency and coordination. It will fast-track decisions whenever a critical situation emerges. Addressing something that has for some time been an albatross around the neck of European manufacturing, she moved her speech on to raw materials, and used the example of vaccine production to illustrate it, before bringing up how vital the issue is to move forward. “Green and digital technology currently depend on a number of scarce raw materials. We import lithium for Electric vehicles, platinum to produce clean hydrogen, and silicon metal for solar panels. 98% of the rare earth elements we need come from a single supplier – China. And this is not sustainable. “We must diversify our supply chains and at the same time, we must invest in circular technologies that reuse resources instead of constantly extracting them. This is the goal of our action plan on critical raw materials. This is why we have proposed to create a European raw materials alliance.” The alliance was first proposed in March last year, before the continent started going into lockdown, and was officially launched in September. “Our strategy is still designed to ensure that industry can lead the twin green and digital transitions. But what has changed is both the speed and the scale of it. We want to make sure that our industry does not only keep pace with that change, but also drive it.” The theme of opportunity ran through Ms von der Leyen’s speech. After acknowledging that the pandemic had seen some industries suffer while others thrived, she said the world had now entered a new phase, in the race to recovery. “Over the course of history wars and pandemics have shaped our societies and economies. Take the Spanish flu a century ago. It caused great human and economic suffering. But it was followed by a great expansion of growth, innovation and technological transition, also known as the roaring ‘20s.
“Our ambition is to make sure that we have that same period of tech growth and innovation. To achieve this Europe needs to harness the potential of the digital transformation, and make industry a key player in that. This requires significant public and private investment. With Next Generation EU, we have a historic opportunity to provide the public funding, but we have to make the right choices.” The need for investment was a further ongoing theme of the speech. Investment is necessary for continent-wide high-speed internet infrastructure, automation, and enabling SMEs to use technology to cut costs, speed up production and reach new markets, she told listeners. As her speech began drawing to a close, she set out the Commission’s vision for how the EU can move forward. “I want to build on this experience. I believe we should move from crisis mode to a new cruising speed of cooperation with European industry, building new and agile alliances where the public sector joins forces with industry.” She used the of the Commission’s flagships, the Battery Alliance as an example, saying: “It has brought together over 500 industries, research centres and investors. EU institutions have put on the table substantial resources, as have our member states. Less than a month ago we approved almost €3 billion in new public investment. In parallel you have helped us develop new rules on battery technology. “Thanks to the alliance, the most innovative, long-lasting and clean batteries for electric cars will soon be made in Europe. This common investment will create one million new jobs by the end of next year,” claimed Ms von der Leyen, adding: “I want Europe to invest in this approach by building new alliances and partnerships with the private sector.” Before closing, she spoke of how the pandemic had changed the nature of the workplace and highlighted the importance of the workforce and providing the skills necessary in such an evolving labour market. “This is how Europe should always work. We shouldn’t just work for our industry but with our industry. And this is why the Industry Days are so important. We are here to work together. We’re here to discuss the way forward. We’re here to chart the future of our alliances. And, we’re here to find out how we can make the most of Next Generation EU.
POLITICS & ECONOMICS NEWS
Nord Stream 2 Could Be Completed By October
by Ash Jones
he pipelaying for Nord Stream 2 - which has a little less than 100km of pipeline remaining - could stand to be completed by October, according to the information contained in a regulatory document. A schedule from the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) puts forth a 25-week window for completing the Danish section of the pipeline, which is set to end in mid-September. Initial projection hinted the line would be completed in Danish waters this week, but delays and sanctions have put the project on hold for over a year. The Akademic Cherskiy, the replacement pipelining vessel brought in after sanctions against European companies assisting in the pipeline’s completion were introduced during the Trump administration, is still docked in Kaliningrad. It was set to join fellow Russian ship Fortuna - which commenced pipelaying earlier this year - in finishing up the remaining pipeline. Argus Media reports that no start date for pipelaying has been confirmed and the developer revealed that “everything depends” on sea trials. 65.8 km (40 miles) of pipeline remains to be laid in Danish waters - roughly 2.63 km per week - on Line A, where most of the work has been stalled. Inefficient scheduling and poor weather have reportedly also caused further delays. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Germany that laying the pipeline could go against their best interests as well as undermining Ukraine. The US has been opposed to the project for more than a decade, believing it may make Germany and the rest of Western Europe too reliant on an unstable foreign power. Many of the current energy lines run through Ukraine and Poland, and the US is also concerned that the pipeline could stand to affect their sovereignty.
While meeting with NATO leaders, Secretary Blinken said: “President Biden has been very clear, he believes the pipeline is a bad idea, bad for Europe, bad for the United States, ultimately it is in contradiction to the EU’s own security goals. “It has the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland and a number of close partners and allies. US law has required Washington to impose sanctions on companies participating in the Nord Stream 2 project.” As of March 5, when work commenced again, 110 km of pipeline remained to be laid before the project’s completion. Aside from the 65 km of Line A that remains, a further 56km remains to be placed from Line B. Pipelaying on Line B in Danish waters is expected to be completed by the end of May, according to the DEA’s schedule. Fortuna has reportedly been laying an average of 415 metres of pipeline per day, consistent with earlier estimates. As is stands, Nord Stream 2 will continue to cause sour relations between the US and EU. Visit: www.ens.dk
EU Mulls First China Sanctions In Three Decades by Ash Jones
he European Union agreed on Wednesday to blacklist certain Chinese officials over repeated human rights violations for the first time in over three decades, some diplomats have revealed. This marks the first official actions against China by the EU since the arms embargo in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. The sanctions are awaiting official EU approval on March 22, at which point the individuals and entities valid under the travel bans issued as part of the sanctions will be revealed. Four Chinese individuals and one organisation are currently under consideration for these bans. Reuters reported the sanctions are being levied over the treatment of China’s Uyghur Muslim minority, over one million of whom are being detained in internment camps, according
to various activists, in what many critics have referred to as a genocide. Some western critics have also accused them of employing sterilisation, torture and forced labour against the Uyghurs. The Chinese government denies these claims, stating the camps are used for vocational training and a fight against extremism. “Restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses adopted,” one EU diplomat said.
China is currently the EU’s second-largest trade partner. The embargo that the bloc imposed on China in 1989 is still in effect today. Chinese officials have referred to the use of sanctions as “confrontational.” China’s ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, condemned the EU’s sanctions during an online discussion. He warned the European Union that any human rights sanctions on Beijing would be “confrontational”. In a Twitter post, Zhang said: “Sanctions based on lies could be interpreted as a deliberate attack on China’s security and development.” “It is the responsibility of the Chinese government to protect the security and welfare of the people in China,” he added, stating the Chinese state wants dialogue, not confrontation. Ensured the EU, who republished his quotes, that Beijing would not change its policies. Industry Europe 61
HYPERSPECTRAL VISION Finland-based Specim, a leading supplier of hyperspectral imaging, celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. Over the years the company has become a trusted partner, providing superb quality and cost efficiency to companies around the world.
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TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
pecim, Spectral Imaging Oy Ltd, established in 1995, is the world’s leading manufacturer of hyperspectral imaging instruments and systems. Headquartered in Oulu, Finland and with sales offices in the U.S. and China, the company has been at the forefront with new and advanced technological solutions applied to hyperspectral imaging and with products reaching the pinnacle of precision, durability and functionality. As a pioneer in the commercial production of hyperspectral products, Specim attaches particular importance to exactly meeting the requirements of industry. This means that all products are manufactured to be particularly robust and in line with industrial standards, in order to provide maximum ease of installation in industrial environments. Specim product design is driven by its customers’ demand for fast and accurate information and a high return on investment, as they strive to gather information to improve quality, increase value, and make sustainable choices. The products are used globally by OEM customers in machine vision systems, inspecting food or pharmaceuticals production quality, sorting waste, or measuring printed colour accuracy, as well as by research laboratories and research teams in private, academic, and government organizations.
Moving boundaries Specim’s vision of ‘Spectral imaging made easy’ means that its customers can rely on the scalability of its technology and on increasing ease of implementation through ‘out of the box’ solutions, allowing
them to keep improving the performance and competitiveness of their solutions and develop application solutions quicker and with fewer technical skills. With its SpecimONE spectral imaging platform the company has revolutionized hyperspectral technology adaptation to industrial sorting applications. With SpecimONE machine builders, vision systems integrators and other OEM’s can classify different materials based on their spectral signature off-line and apply those classification models into an in-line system in real-time. The result is a new industrial sorting application without coding or in-depth knowledge of spectral imaging. Also for industrial use, the company launched the first hyperspectral camera specifically designed for industrial machine vision – the Specim FX Series. Small, fast and affordable, the camera gives reliable classification results based on the target’s chemical composition. This non-contact, non-destructive optical method offers 100% imaging coverage. You can inspect a variety of end-products and different system properties without changing the camera. Specim’s latest solutions include the Specim IQ Hyperspectral Imaging Camera - a portable hyperspectral camera, where data capturing, data processing and result visualisation are integrated into a one ready-to-use package. The camera is able to screen the imaging target and show the results on the camera display in just seconds. The weight of the camera, just 1.3 kg, containing a chargeable battery and a memory card for data storage, allows true portability for imaging in locations where it has not been possible before.
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Xenics Infrared Solutions Member of a global group The hyperspectral imaging market is at an inflection point of rapid industrial growth, enabled by the rising adoption of machine vision. More and more machine builders are embracing the benefits of upgrading from visual cameras to hyperspectral imaging, with resulting improvements in quality, productivity and efficiency for their industrial end-users. Specim has capitalised on this to grow its business, by offering optimised solutions for machine builders as well as for its research and airborne customers. Specim’s remarkable technological achievements and its global commercial success have so far been supported by its two Finnish investors, Nordic Option and Bocap. In the spring of 2020, Specim’s investors and founders felt the company had reached a suitable point of maturity and opportunity, complemented by external interest, and initiated a competitive trade sale process resulting in offers from several global players. Of these, the Board determined Konica Minolta to be the perfect home for Specim’s technology, customers and employees. At the end of 2020, Konica Minolta Sensing Europe B.V., Konica Minolta’s wholly-owned subsidiary for the sensing business, based in the Netherlands, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Specim, Spectral Imaging Oy Ltd. This transaction will fuel Specim’s growth through deployment of its technology and capabilities to global industrial markets under the trusted brand and experienced leadership of Konica Minolta. Upon acquisition, Specim will maintain its existing offices and facilities in Oulu. The acquisition is considered part of a continuum of evolution for Specim. “I am proud of our founders, world-class employees and management team as well as our dedicated investors, who have together brought Specim to this point of market leadership in hyperspectral imaging. Konica Minolta shares our vision and values and will greatly support our business through improved sell-through and reach to global customer markets”, said Tapio n Kallonen, CEO of Specim.
Xenics provides cutting-edge solutions for hyperspectral imaging systems with highly sensitive and high dynamic range short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensors and cameras. With 20 years of experience and expertise in designing and manufacturing InGaAs based infrared sensors, cores and cameras of best-in-class performance, Xenics offers state-of-the-art solutions for machine vision, scientific & advanced research, transportation, process monitoring, safety & security and medical applications. Mastering all critical steps of the manufacturing process with advanced production facilities and in-house know-how on detectors, systems and software development, Xenics offers a complete portfolio of line-scan and area-scan products for the (v)SWIR. More at: www.xenics.com.
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New developments in Technology & Innovation
EU Sets 2030 Target For Semiconductors And Quantum Technology by Ash Jones
he European Union has set itself the goal of producing a fifth of the world’s semiconductors by the end of the decade as well as making its first quantum computing technology within the next five years as a way of cutting down on non-European technologies. The “Digital Compass Plan,” which was presented in early March by the Commission, lays out the bloc’s ambitions to advance its digital technologies sector. The world is currently undergoing a semiconductor shortage spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic and many western nations are dependent on chips from primarily Asian suppliers. Many suppliers are withholding chips from industries such as the automotive sector in a bit to allow electronic developers to meet the inflated demand that has arisen as larger numbers of people remain under lockdown conditions due to the pandemic. The plan cited the importance of semiconductors, used in connected cars, smartphones, internet-linked devices, high-performance computers and artificial intelligence, and
where a global shortage is shutting down car factories around the world. A similar scheme has also been prioritised by the Biden administration, which is seeking to boost domestic production of semiconductors to the tune of $37 billion (€31.1 billion). European companies are particularly affected by chip shortages, given their reliance on East Asian and US semiconductor suppliers. A document pertaining to the plan, which was examined by Reuters, said: “It is our proposed level of ambition that by 2030 the production of cutting-edge and sustainable semiconductors in Europe including processors is at least 20% of world production in value.”
Father Of The Web Tim BernersLee Wants To Reboot Cyberspace by Steven Gislam
ir Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist given a knighthood in his native UK for inventing the World Wide Web says he wants to give the world-changing technology a reboot. Through a new startup called Inrupt, Berners-Lee is looking to remedy some of the problems that have hindered the so-called web at a time when it is dominated by enormous, sprawling closed platforms like Facebook. Based on ideas developed by Solid, an open-source software project, Inrupt aims to create a webspace in which people can use one single login 66 Industry Europe
The plan specifies the EU are searching for “ultra-efficient” semiconductors with a higher performance than the majority of the current chip market. The EU is proposing investment in new foundries for production, which could soak up a lot of the funding. Another aspect of the plan is for the EU to invest in quantum technologies. Officials say this could help speed up advances in developing new medicines and genome sequencing. “It is our proposed level of ambition that by 2025, Europe will have the first computer with quantum acceleration paving the way for Europe to be at the cutting edge of quantum capabilities by 2030,” the document stated. The EU has also called for 10,000 climateneutral facilities by 2030 to help Europe develop its own cloud infrastructure as well as the doubling of unicorns, or companies worth more than $1 billion. The final part of the plan details the EU’s ambitious plans to have all areas in Europe covered by 5G networks, in a bid to give easy access to highspeed Gigabit internet connections.
for any service, in which personal data is kept in personal online data stores, or pods, that are under the user’s control. “People are fed up with the lack of controls, the silos,” Berners-Lee, who is co-founder and chief technology officer of Inrupt, told Reuters. This new vision of the internet will allow people to collaborate and share in a way that has helped make social media so successful, whilst allowing users to remain in control of their data. Inrupt CEO John Bruce says the company has already signed by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), as well as the BBC and the government of Flanders in Belgium as pilot customers. He says more announcements will be made by April. Investors in Inrupt include Hearst Ventures, Octopus Ventures and content delivery firm Akamai, though Bruce did not disclose how much has been raised. He said that in the case of the NHS, the pilot scheme was looking at ways of addressing the long-standing issue of incompatible medical records. He said that through using Inrupt, the NHS could give patients “a holistic presentation of [their] medical history,” with doctors and other service providers able to update that record even as it remains in the control of the individual user. One of Inrupt’s key aims is to get software developers to write programmes for the platform. Like the original web, Inrupt is, at its core, mostly a set of protocols for how machines talk to each other, meaning that specific applications bring it to life. For more info, visit: www.inrupt.com
TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION NEWS
INDUSTRYNEWS Meet Sophia: The Human-Like Robot Expected For Rollout This Year by Ash Jones
ophia, an AI-controlled “social robot” is being prepared for mass rollout in the wake of the pandemic with the hope it can look after the vulnerable and elderly in a time of strife. The robot, which initially went viral in 2016, may be publicly available by the end of the year, according to its developers, Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics. Rollout is predicted for some time in the first half of 2021, according to the firm’s founder David Hanson. Hanson, who revealed the robot’s personality in a lab tour attended by Reuters, said: “The world of COVID-19 is going to need more and more automation to keep people safe.” He believes robotic solutions to the pandemic are not limited to just healthcare and believes a more bespoke approach may be possible. Sophia uses speech-recognition technology from Alphabet and vocal synthesis from Caperoc as well as Hanson Robotic’s own software for analysing speech patterns and generating responses.
Bosch Eyes June Opening
For New Semiconductor Plant In Dresden by Steven Gislam
erman engineering and technology company Bosch has said that everything is on track to open its new semiconductor factory in Dresden, Germany, in June. The facility will allow Bosch to target the rapidly growing demand from Europe’s automotive sector, which has been dealing with an acute shortage of chips for the past few months. Bosch has already begun putting its first wafers - which are just 60 micrometres thick - through
The robots are currently able to mimic speech to have a simple conversation on limited subjects. Hanson added: “Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like. “That can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.” The company hopes to sell thousands of these bots in 2021, both large and small. As part of the tour, Sophia announced: “Social robots like me can take care of the sick or elderly. I can help communicate, give therapy and provide social stimulation, even in difficult situations.” Robotics has been on the rise in the past few years, even before the pandemic. A 2020 study conducted by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) found that robotics sales rose by 32% between 2018 and 2019, with the industry ballooning to a total revenue worth $11.2 billion (€9.53 billion). Robotics has been used in pandemic recovery since its onset and covers a wide variety of areas from assisting in manufacturing to adhere to social distancing to delivering food so that couriers do not need to be at risk of infection. Danish robots were also being deployed in China to help deliver medical goods in hospitals. Increased automation has become a contentious topic within industry, with rising concerns that robots will displace jobs from human workers. Most robotics experts and manufacturers have attempted to allay fears by stipulating robotics and automation should supplement - not replace - a human workforce. Others have argued that the emotional input humans provide is invaluable within a workplace. Visit: www.hansonrobotics.com
the production process at the Dresden facility in January. The new production plant will manufacture power semiconductors for use in a range of applications in electric vehicles and beyond. Later this month, Bosch will start the first production runs of some highly complex and integrated circuits. A wafer goes through around 700 different processing steps on its journey to becoming a completed semiconductor chip. This long and complex procedure takes over ten weeks, Bosch says. It is aiming for the full start of all production operations at the Dresden plant by the end of this year. The Dresden plant will be Bosch’s second in Germany, complementing its facility in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart. It is being built with an investment of around €1 billion from Bosch, as well as additional funding from the German federal ministry of economic affairs. Its construction is a response to what Bosch described as the “surging number of areas of application for semiconductors”, and
its primary focus will be on manufacturing microchips for the automotive sector. Since late 2020, the automotive industry has been suffering from an acute shortage of semiconductors, often losing out in the face of strong competition from the electronics industry especially, which saw a boom in demand following lockdowns worldwide. The shortage has been severe enough to bring multiple automakers to cut their shortterm production plans and is encouraging multiple stakeholders in the semiconductor manufacturing chain — at both government and industry levels — to ramp up chip production. The shortage has been so severe that a number of automakers have cut back their short-term production plans, while several players in the semiconductor manufacturing chain — at both government and industry levels — are now ramping up chip production. Visit: www.bosch.de Industry Europe 67
GREEN MOBILITY Daimler announced a shift towards a carbon-neutral transport future, and set itself ambitious new sustainability targets. The company has not yet decided to stop combustion engine development, but plans to make its cars entirely CO2-neutral by 2039
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aimler is one of the world’s most successful automotive companies. With its three Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans, Daimler Trucks & Buses, and Daimler Mobility divisions, the group is one of the leading global suppliers of premium and luxury cars and one of the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles. Daimler’s vehicles and services are sold in in nearly every country of the world and with production facilities in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa, the group has a true global footprint. The company’s founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, made history by inventing the automobile in 1886. True to this legacy, the group’s focus remains on innovative technologies as well as on safe and superior vehicles that both captivate and inspire. Daimler continues to invest systematically in the development of efficient powertrains – from high-tech combustion engines and hybrid vehicles to all-electric powertrains with battery or fuel cell – with the goal of making locally emission-free driving possible in the
long term. Daimler is also focused on the intelligent connectivity of its vehicles, autonomous driving and new mobility concepts.
Ambition2039 The group launched its first purpose-built electric car in 2019, the EQC, a large SUV. Before the EQC’s arrival, Daimler offered electric cars only as a modification of models originally developed for conventional combustion engines, a serious limitation when it comes to their interior design. In the same vein as VW, Daimler has developed a dedicated vehicle architecture for pure e-cars, on which the EQC is based. In time with the rollout of the EQC, Daimler also committed to a more general climate initiative dubbed “Ambition2039”. Under this heading, Mercedes-Benz Cars has set itself ambitious yet realistic goals. As part of this, the automotive manufacturer is examining the issue of sustainability along the entire value chain. The goal is the transformation of
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the full range of passenger cars into a carbon-neutral product range as of 2039. This includes – from socially and climate-friendly degraded raw materials, through the supply chain, and the production of the vehicles – all stages up to the use phase as well as recycling concepts. Already during the development of a new model, Mercedes-Benz Cars looks at its environmental performance over the entire life cycle. Vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Cars are scrutinised in a comprehensive life-cycle assessment, the so-called 360-degree environmental check: from manufacture of the raw materials to production and from vehicle operation to recycling at the end of the vehicle’s service life – a long way off in the case of a new Mercedes-Benz. Gunnar Güthenke, Head of Procurement and Supplier Quality, Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: “Together with our partners, we are implementing the Mercedes-Benz Ambition 2039. Almost half of our approximately 2,000 suppliers have signed an ‘Ambition Letter of Intent’ and are committed to supplying us with only CO2 neutral parts in the future. These companies account for more than half of the annual purchasing volume of Mercedes-Benz AG.”
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“This is an important proof point on the way to achieving our climate goals: our supplier network has also recognised the signs of the times, and is following the transformation. We place an additional focus on particularly CO2-intensive components and materials such as battery cells. We are also in the process of setting up a tracking system that will enable us to see how CO2 emissions are reduced over time,” he acknowledged. The company is in close dialogue with all other suppliers to jointly develop strategies for CO2 reduction.
Towards electrification Despite the global pandemic, 2020 turned out to be a good year for the group. With its workforce of around 288,500, Daimler sold 2.8 million vehicles, with revenue amounting to €154.3 billion. The key figures reflect a good performance based on improving markets and strong products, combined with diligent cost discipline and extensive cash-preservation measures.
In 2020, Mercedes-Benz tripled global sales of plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles to more than 160,000 units, increasing the electric vehicle share to more than 7 percent, from 2 percent in 2019. Harald Wilhelm, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Finance & Controlling/Daimler Mobility, summarised the development: “Our strong product portfolio and the positive market recovery drove us to a good performance. We have successfully pushed forward our comprehensive efforts regarding cost control and cash management. With this momentum, we are on track to make our business more weatherproof. However, the transformation of Daimler is a long-distance race. We are keeping up the pace with focus and full discipline.” The company confirmed that 2021 stands above all for the acceleration of electrification at Mercedes-Benz Cars. A total of four new Mercedes-EQ models will be presented: the EQA, EQB, n EQE and EQS.
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New developments in Transportation Written by Ash Jones
Mercedes Factories Set To Be Powered By Renewable Energy
by Ash Jones
aimler and Statkraft have signed a renewable purchase power agreement (PPA) to use wind and solar energy to power factories used for the production of the Mercedes brand. This comes as a number of sectors, including automotive, are pushing a trend of decarbonisation in order to meet the often strict climate goals as laid out by various nations. Key industrial players are looking to reel in their carbon footprints through deals with renewables. Daimler has already signed agreements with wind farms in Poland and Germany. This new deal will give them 100% renewable energy 24/7 as it brings wind together with solar and with hydro capacity in Norway providing back-up. The wind power to be used in the factories will come from an installed capacity of roughly 200 wind turbines at various farms across Germany.
The company revealed all the farms used no longer receive public funding and these deals work to keep these farms operational and prevent them from falling into disuse. The two parties hope this trifecta of renewable sources will help prove to other industry players the role renewables can play in the manufacturing sector. The two parties have been signing renewable PPAs in Germany since at least 2019 when they took on various wind farms in the country. Governments around the world should keep supplying these PPA deals, the company said, adding they are a great way to support “market-driven” demand for renewable energy. The company also mentioned potential barriers for adoption, such as “penalisation” for firms signing PPA agreement - potentially levies or taxes - which supposedly disincentivise the transition. It also reports some Governments withhold the necessary guarantees of origin that underpin the PPAs by providing the traceability of renewable energy. WindEurope’s CEO Giles Dickson said the deal was a win-win for all involved as Daimler gets its clean energy and the industry moves one step closer to decarbonisation. He added: “[With this deal] 24 wind farms get a new customer and can keep running free of public support. The wind is combined with solar and hydro to give 24/7 stable power. And Europe gets a perfect model for how cheap and reliable renewables can decarbonise the economy.” Visit: www.daimler.com | www.statkraft.com
Volkswagen Sues Ex-CEOs For Breaching “Duty Of Care” Over Dieselgate by Steven Gislam
erman automotive giant Volkswagen has said that it intends to claim damages from former CEO Martin Winterkorn and former Audi chief Rupert Stadler over the Dieselgate emissions scandal, accusing them of breaching their “duty of care”. The auto company said that after a lengthy legal investigation, it had concluded that the two former chief executives had failed to act responsibly, but found no evidence that violations had been carried out by other board members. The two CEOs both deny any wrongdoing. Winterkorn’s legal team has said in a statement that he regretted the decision taken by the board and outright rejected the accusations. The statement said that Winterkorn was “aware that the supervisory board is obliged to assess potential claims and to possibly assert them. He will therefore seek to clarify those questions in consultation with Volkswagen AG.” Winterkorn resigned as the company’s CEO in November 2015, shortly after the news of the emissions scandal broke. 72 Industry Europe
The scandal has cost VW over €30 billion in legal costs, fines and compensation. “The Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG has drawn a line under its clarification process and ended its investigation started in October 2015 into the causes of the diesel crisis and who was responsible for this,” said Volkswagen in a statement. “As a result, the Supervisory Board decided at its meeting today to assert claims for damages against the former Chairman of the Group Board of Management, Prof. Martin Winterkorn, and the former Group Board of Management member and Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, Rupert Stadler, on account of breaches of the duty of care under stock corporation law.” In 2015, the company’s admission to having used illegal software to rig millions of diesel engine tests in the US began the largest scandal in its history. One key finding in Friday’s decision was that Winterkorn had failed to act responsibly in the period following what it called a “crisis conference” on July 27, 2015. During this
time, it is claimed that the former CEO had the information on “the use of inadmissible software functions in 2.0-litre vehicles, that were sold in the North American market in the years between 2009 to 2015.” Volkswagen’s supervisory board also found that during his time as Audi CEO, Rupert Stadler had failed to investigate from September 2016 whether the illegal software had been included in the company’s engines that were built into VW, Audi and Porsche models in the EU. Winterkorn, along with four other former and current executives, will be tried on charges of organised commercial fraud and serious tax evasion, which can carry ten-year jail sentences and heavy fines. The trial’s start date was recently postponed by a district court due to the continuing pandemic. The court set a new date for the trial of September 16. Stadler was the first of the executives to go on trial over the scandal, with proceedings opening last year in Munich. Visit: www.volkswagenag.com
Liverpool Aiming To Be A Driving Force In Drone Tech by Ash Jones
K-based startup Drone Major has announced the launch of the firstever drone technology test and development area project to be created in the Liverpool City Region. The scheme is to be delivered in partnership with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) with the aim of putting the region on the path to becoming a global leader in the deployment of cutting-edge drone technology. Titled Phoenix I, it is the first in a series of interconnected projects developed by the group alongside several regional partners to deliver commercially viable, scalable and environmentally sustainable drone services across all environments and various sectors vital for the UK’s economy. The project promises numerous benefits to the region, creating new investment and economic growth, employment, skills, education and a cleaner environment. The LCRCA has played an instrumental convening role working with Drone Major Group to facilitate the active involvement of many of the region’s most vital stakeholders in the delivery of the project. A roadmap has been created for this unique project which identifies key themes, outlining a clear pathway to develop operational drone capabilities to be delivered in the fields such as urban logistics, the environment, security, maritime logistics as well as in community roles. All projects within the newly established Phoenix programme, which currently comprises 10 new initiatives addressing these sectors across the UK, will share a common operational model and advanced data analysis to ensure that progress accelerates exponentially. This commercially accelerating approach is set to stimulate the Liverpool City Region’s inward investment opportunities while enhancing the region’s global recognition as a hub for cutting-edge technological innovation. The LCRCA has committed to a strict decarbonisation agenda, together with the grant of Freeport status for the Liverpool City Region announced by the Chancellor in his budget speech on 3 March 2021.
Liverpool benefits from some of the country’s most outstanding digital infrastructure, academic knowledge and individual experts who will be integral to realising the potential of autonomous drone systems in the UK. Institutions such as the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Autonomous Systems Technology (CAST), Liverpool Institute for Sustainable Coasts and Oceans (LISCO) and Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), and the drone research group at Liverpool John Moores University could help it drive progress for drone technology and greater digitalisation efforts. Robert Garbett, the founder of Drone Major Group said that drones represent an unprecedented growth opportunity across a huge number of global industries. He added: “Liverpool City Region has clearly demonstrated its commendable intent to adopt a sustainable and commercially viable drone technology system for the City, ahead of the curve, which sets an example to all. “The potential for this unique collaborative initiative is vast. It enables cities, regions and industries to achieve their potential and will create an overwhelmingly positive impact on the UK, and indeed world economic growth through enhanced commerce, employment, skills, education and decarbonisation.” “We have the world-class infrastructure, expertise and ambition to be leaders for Industry 4.0. It’s fantastic to see the Drone Major Group recognising that by choosing to open their test and development area here,” he added. “This project will deliver new jobs and investment and will attract people to our area not just to work but to study too, knowing that we are working on cutting edge and exciting projects such as this, as well as ambitious plans in everything from digital infrastructure and tidal power.” Visit: www.dronemajor.net
£15m Sustainable Aviation Fuel Contest Launched In UK by Steven Gislam
K-based Jet Zero Council has launched a £15 million (€17.5 million) competition to support the development of facilities capable of turning household waste into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), also known as biojet. The “Green Fuel, Green Skies” competition will support technology to convert household
waste, waste wood, flue gases and excess electricity in “first-of-a-kind production plants in the UK to produce these fuels at scale.” Established last year, the Jet Zero Council is a public-private initiative the purpose of which is to promote the use of biojet in aviation. An SAF delivery group has been created to advise the government on ways it can work together with industry to establish production facilities in the UK. The government is providing £125 million (€145.7 million) in funding over a four year period to develop greener aviation, such as fully-electric aircraft, with a further £175 million (€204 million) coming from industry.
To boost SAF development, industry group Sustainable Aviation has also committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said: “As the aviation sector emerges out of the pandemic and looks towards recovery over the coming months, we must put our environmental commitments at the centre of everything we do – so not only do we build back better, we also build back greener. “That’s why we’re stepping up our work on the Council, recruiting new members and launching pioneering efforts to ensure that we continue to lead the world by example and deliver on our ambitious net-zero targets.” Visit: www.sustainableaviation.co.uk Industry Europe 73
New developments in the Transportation
Geely Squares Up To Tesla With Launch Of High-End Electric Brand by Steven Gislam
hinese car manufacturer Geely Auto has launched a brand of premium electric vehicles in China as it seeks to push back against Tesla’s leading position in its domestic market and recover from the financial impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Geely said that it would develop high-end EVs under the Zeekr brand along with its parent company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which also owns Volvo Cars. It is expected that the venture will begin deliveries in the third quarter of this year. Geely retained its spot last year as China’s largest domestic automotive brand, largely thanks to the company’s fast response to last year’s pandemic, which allowed it to secure supplied and restart production ahead of its competitors. Nonetheless, the company was not immune to the effects of the pandemic. The crisis saw Geely’s revenue fall by 5% last year, with net profits down by 33%, according to figures released earlier today. Unit sales were also down 3% to 1.32 million. One of the many effects of the pandemic was to cement China’s position at the heart of the global automotive industry. While year-on-year sales of vehicles in the
country - the world’s largest market - dropped by 6% in the second half of last year, it was still a much stronger performance than most other global markets. Beijing is aiming that 25% of all cars sold in China are electric by 2025. In December, a record 224,000 battery and hybrid vehicles were sold in the country. Geely is banking that the move into China’s premium EV market will give the brand a new sales momentum. However, the company faces stiff competition, not just from Tesla, but also from other homegrown brands such as Xpeng, Nio and Li Auto, and global carmakers some of whom are to launch electric models in the country later this year. Tesla’s Model 3 was the top-selling EV model in China last year. While the move will be costly for Geely, it is also seen as necessary if the company is to be a serious challenge to Tesla on its home turf. Li Shufu, the chair of Geely’s parent company Zhejiang Geely Holding, has ambitions to transform his auto company into China’s first truly global carmaker with a reach akin to that of Volkswagen. Brands owned by the company include Lotus, Volvo, and the company holds a minority stake in Daimler, owner of Mercedes Benz. A plan to merge Geely Auto and Volvo was scrapped last month in favour of deeper collaboration on software development and electric vehicles. Through Zeekr, Geely says it will demonstrate the competitiveness of its system for building electric cars that it will sell to its rivals. The EV architecture was announced last year and is part of the Chinese auto firm’s strategy to position itself at the heart of the industry’s pivot to battery-powered vehicles. Visit: www.global.geely.com
Aston Martin Promise UK All-Electric Cars By 2025 by Ash Jones
ston Martin boss Lawrence Stroll has promised his firm will begin to produce allelectric models in the UK by 2025, ahead of the government’s plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. Stroll, who is a part-owner of the firm, said that a battery-powered sports car and SUV will begin development at its plant in the Midlands and Wales, respectively. He told the FT this would be operated in-house rather than relying on its partner, Mercedez-Benz, which owns a 20% stake in the company. 74 Industry Europe
Several other automakers are looking into introducing new electric models into their development chains as many nations look to impose strict climate targets to meet with goals set up in the Paris Climate Accord. VW recently announced a complete brand overhaul to allow it to push out a new EV model every year and to operate a far larger market share of the EV market. Jaguar’s Land Rover brand is also set to go all-electric by 2025 with plans to rebrand its current models to follow suit by 2030. Stellantis is also weighing up its options for UK-based manufacturing, being unable to decide on whether it should invest in making electric cars at its Cheshire plant. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to ban the sale of all diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030. This move has been met with positive reception from both other nations and key automakers. Portugal has opted to ban the sale of all diesel and petrol vehicles by 2035, spurred on by the UK’s decision. Volvo’s CEO Hakon Samuelsson has also suggested an outright ban on the sale of vehicles
that operate using traditional fossil fuels, adding that stimulus packages encouraging the phasing out of fossil fuels may not be enough to spur the change necessary to meet the necessary climate goals. Stroll has previously stated Aston Martin plan to continue the sale of traditional engines well into the next decade. In the same interview, however, he pledged to increase the availability of hybrid models under the brand over the next four years. According to Stroll, a hybrid version of Aston’s DBX model is due to be rolled out by 2023 and its first battery-only models by 2025. He added: “We are way ahead of our rivals, and all because of our partnership with Mercedes.” Stroll hopes Aston’s unique brand will also give them an edge in the EV market and separate it from its competitors. He said: “Every carmaker will be able to produce electric vehicles, but Astons will have our beautiful body, our suspension, our vehicle dynamics, our bespoke interiors.” Visit: www.astonmartin.com