Industry Europe – Issue 32.1

Page 1

VOLUME 32/1 – 2022

AUTOMA.NET DISCUSSING BROKEN SUPPLY CHAINS IN AN AUTOMATED WORLD

FIVE WAYS THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR CAN BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE

ABB -

2022 - THE YEAR OF THE SMART GRID



EDITORIAL

STEVENGISLAM

|

A COP out? Or not as bad as all that? O ur first edition of 2022 contains a plethora of exclusive articles and interviews covering some of the biggest changes and challenges for the years ahead. This month’s cover story, “2022 – the year of the smart grid”, comes from Alessandro Palin, ABB’s Division Head for Distribution Solutions. Alessandro points out that we have eight years to slash global emissions in half and makes a powerful case for the importance of smart grids in the energy transition. “Without smart grids, there will be no energy transition,” he says pointedly. It’s a perspective that is shared by the IEA, which cited grid integration as the main technical challenge to increasing renewable energy capacity. Even before the energy transition, the ageing grid infrastructure had begun causing problems when energy demand spiked, highlighting the dire need for a system overhaul across Europe and beyond. Alessandro underlines how digitalisation has come at just the right time to make the technology viable, as well as helping to make better use of dwindling resources, not to mention cost savings leading into the billions of euros annually. He argues that the technology needed to go beyond the UN Environment Program target of halving emissions by 2030 is already here, and that with the national commitments in place, this year could begin to see real progress towards net-zero. Read Alessandro Palin’s article on pg. 5.

Our second focus then moves to last November’s anticlimactic COP26, which seemed to have very few overly enthused, with summit president Alok Sharma visibly fighting back the tears as the event wrapped up. Ever the diplomat, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the outcomes as reflecting the reality of the world today. Just before Christmas, I spoke to IE regular Lord Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission to get his take on it. With characteristic enthusiasm, he told me that, while not a complete success, it was

also not a complete failure and gave it a six out of ten overall. Adair highlighted the agreement on deforestation as being one of the major successes of the summit, so long as it delivered. The agreement on coal, however, which China and India made last minute alterations to, was “frankly, disappointing”. Nonetheless, the mere fact that all signatories agreed on what needs to be done – despite not agreeing on how – was reason to be optimistic. Read the full article on pg. 8.

Over the past few years, there has been an increased focus on the impact that construction is having on emissions and the environment, especially given that the sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention air pollution. Our third and final focus is on the construction sector and comes courtesy of our very own Ash Jones. Over the past few years, there has been an increased focus on the impact that construction is having on emissions and the environment, especially given that the sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention air pollution. So, with that in mind, he created a guide which outlines five ways in which the construction can clean up its act and move towards genuinely clean ways of building. Read the full article on pg. 10. Last November, I was invited to the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) in Dubai which focused on the digital and green transitions. In the middle

of all the excitement over the progress we are collectively making towards these goals, it had struck me that there was an elephant in the room – something that no one was really addressing. How do we ensure that the fourth industrial revolution does not make the same mistakes as the preceding three? How do we ensure that the world’s poorest are not trampled on again in our rush to transition to a net-zero digital economy? So, I was happy to get a chance to sit down on the sidelines of the summit with the Managing Director of the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, Joshua Setipa to discuss precisely this issue, as well as the work of the bank. It was a wide-ranging interview, which covered financing, climate mitigation, green technology, and the opportunities and challenges that the world’s least developed nations face. We also spoke about the dark history that has led to extreme poverty, as well as the shared responsibilities that the countries’ governments have, as well those of the companies operating inside their borders. Read the full article on pg. 42. Also, as part of GMIS, I found out that Dubai – long seen as the most progressive of the seven United Arab Emirates – is moving away from its rapidly dwindling oil reserves, as well as its reliance on luxury tourism and business travel, in a bid to become a global tech hub. The city state is well-positioned to do so, both geographically and in terms of its business culture. It is already home to many highly skilled foreign workers, as well as a digitally literate native population. In the run up to the UAE’s 50th birthday last year, a raft of new legislation was introduced, aimed specifically at drawing in investment from foreign startups and tech companies, as well as attempting to soften the nation’s image in terms of women’s n rights and property ownership. Read the full article on pg. 51. Industry Europe 3


INDUSTRY EUROPE

CONTENTS

VOL 32/1

Comment 3

Editorial A COP out? Or not as bad as all that?

Focus on Smart Cities 5

2022 – the year of the smart grid ABB

Focus on Energy & Utilities Editorial Director Steve Gislam

Managing Partner & Production Director Stephen Moore

8

- ETC's Adair Turner talks COP26

Focus on construction & engineering 10

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 reasonable step forward, 6/10"

5 ways the construction sector can become more sustainable

Aerospace & Defence 14

Aerospace & Defence news The latest developments in the sector

Sales & Advertising Management Oliver Clements

Chemicals & Biochemicals

Sector Managers

Construction & Engineering

Katarzyna Pozoga

18

Chemicals & Biochemicals news The latest developments in the sector

22

Construction & Engineering news The latest developments in the sector

Consumer Goods 26

Consumer Goods news The latest developments in the sector

Art Director Leon Esterhuizen

Energy & Utilities 28

Energy & Utilities news The latest developments in the sector

Healthcare 32

Healthcare news The latest developments in the sector

Industry Europe PO Box 3750, Norwich NR7 7GZ, United Kingdom Tel: Fax: Email: Web: Twitter: LinkedIn:

+44 (0)1603 414444 +44 (0)1603 779850 studio@industryeurope.net www.industryeurope.com www.twitter.com/IndustryEurope www.linkedin.com/company/industry-europe

Metals & Mining 36

Metals & Mining news The latest developments in the sector

Politics & Economics 40

Politics & Economics news The latest developments in Politics and Economics

Technology & Innovation 44 48

Discussing broken supply chains in an automated world Automa.Net Technology & Innovation news The latest developments in Tech and Innovation

© Industry Europe 2022 No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form for any purpose, other than short sections for the purpose of review, without prior consent of the publisher.

FOCUS MEDIA GROUP LTD.

4 Industry Europe

Transportation 52

Transportation news The latest developments in the sector

Above: Automa.Net p44


FOCUS ON – SMART CITIES

2022 – THE YEAR OF THE SMART GRID 2022 is the year we act on our net-zero pledges from 2021, and no action is more vital than completing the energy transition. We have eight years to cut global emissions in half. So, in the interest of time, let’s get straight to the point: without smart grids, there will be no energy transition.

T

he International Energy Agency (IEA) cites grid integration as one of the top 4 challenges to increasing renewable energy capacity, alongside non-technical challenges (financing, permissions, and social acceptance). From now to 2026, renewables could grow 60% faster than in the past five years, thanks to the maturity of wind and solar generation and the net-zero commitments of 137 countries. But to move from commitments to reality, we need smart grids to make that energy work.

Smart grids perform four tasks critical to the energy transition. They boost grid resilience, increase renewable energy integration, drive down costs, and enable universal access to clean electricity. The resilience of the grid is critical – clean electricity fails if we can’t use it – so let’s start there. Many people don’t know that in the past decade, smart grids helped save Europe from blackouts, while simultaneously supporting the transition to clean energy. Long before the energy transition, spikes in electricity demand were stir-

ring up grave concerns about the ageing grid infrastructure, and the potential for a blackout domino effect across Europe. So, when the energy transition started gaining steam in Germany, experts warned that exceeding 4% renewable generation could not only break the German grid, but could also impact its neighbours. Fast forward to 2020. Germany surpassed all forecasts, reaching 45% renewable energy. 33% of that was from solar and wind, the most variable sources. Globally, we have reached 30% renewable

Industry Europe 5


FOCUS ON – SMART CITIES

Alessandro Palin, the Division President for Distribution Solutions at ABB.

6 Industry Europe

electricity, and far from failing, grids around the world today are not only cleaner, but also more reliable and resilient, thanks to the combination of robust infrastructure and smart grid technology. Digitalization allows us to turn the complexity of the modern grid from a weakness into a strength. We all know, the grid was built for a steady supply of combustion-based energy, but solar and wind are variable. When they are not producing, the grid draws on fossil fuels as a backup. But the modern grid is decentralized; we no longer rely solely on a few massive power plants. Distributed energy resources (DERs) are skyrocketing – from small solar and wind farms to electric vehicles (EVs), homes with solar panels, and commercial microgrids. Each passing year adds literally hundreds of millions


of new supply and demand points to the grid. EVs are proliferating exponentially, with sales in the USA alone forecast to reach 26 million by 2030, up from 5.6 million this year. Digitalization – sensors, artificial intelligence and automation – draws on the combined power of all those DERs, shifting electricity demand in buildings and EVs to times when solar and wind are available. So, cities can use more renewable energy, and less fossil-fuel backup energy. That demand flexibility also helps flatten demand peaks. In the EU alone, from now to 2030, smart grid flexibility could save billions annually, by preventing unnecessary infrastructure expansion. That also saves dwindling resources. And the cost savings go deeper than that, extending to everyday electricity users. With smart grids and DERs, electricity users can shift from pure consumption to "prosumer-

ism" – producing and consuming electricity, and even selling it back to the grid. Imagine 26 million EV drivers with vehicleto-grid charging. At 40 kWh per EV, they could sell enough clean electricity back to the grid to keep 100,000 US homes running for an entire year. Prosumerism could make clean electricity affordable for many more people. In fact, the International Renewable Energy Agency also recommends smart grids for developing countries, to help them support rising electricity demand with renewable energy, while also generating new avenues of economic growth. Universal accessibility to clean electricity is central to a successful energy transition. Emissions are border-free, and we need to make sure that anywhere people are cooking, heating, cooling, driving, etc., they are using safe, smart, sustainable electricity.

We may not yet have all the answers to achieving net-zero globally by 2050. We are still exploring the potential of green hydrogen and other innovations to tackle that last stretch of emissions across air and marine travel and heavy industry. But we already have the technology we need to meet the UN Environment Program goal of halving global emissions by 2030. In fact, clean electrification of buildings, industry and transportation could eradicate three-fourths of global emissions. For that, we need clean energy and smart grids to make it work, and both are ready to go. National commitments to the first are clear. Let’s make 2022 the year we put smart grids at the top of the energy transition agenda, on par with renewable energy, and put that energy to work for n net-zero.

Industry Europe 7


FOCUS ON – ENERGY & UTILITIES

"A REASONABLE STEP FORWARD, 6/10" - ETC'S ADAIR TURNER TALKS COP26 In mid-November, all eyes were on Glasgow which was hosting the global climate summit COP26. As the politicians, business leaders and protestors alike were heading to Scotland, the conference was being billed as the follow-up to the Paris Agreement and even heralded as “humanity’s last chance to save the environment”. A few days later, it ended with the summit’s president Alok Sharma on the verge of tears and a distinctly anti-climactic feeling to the whole thing.

8 Industry Europe

S

hortly after, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres released a statement that seemed to sum up the general underwhelmed sentiment, describing the approved texts as a “compromise that reflects the interests, the conditions, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today.” It was a pragmatist’s assessment. Remove the diplomatic gloss and what he really meant was “it was the best we could manage right now”.


A couple of weeks later, IE caught up with Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) chief Lord Adair Turner to try to make sense of it all. Was Guterres correct in his tentatively worded appraisal of COP26? “If I had to give it a score, it would be about six out of ten. It was not a failure, but it was not a complete success. I think it was a reasonable step forward.” About a month before the summit began, the ETC produced a report, setting out the gap which still needed closing to keep global warming beneath the 1.5°C target agreed in Paris. On top of the 3.5 gigatonnes of emissions reductions of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) agreed on in 2015, the report found that a further 15 to 16 gigatonnes would be needed in commitments. How was one summit ever going to come up with those kind of pledges? “The strategy from the UK COP presidency was twofold," Turner explained, "Firstly, they tried to get a coalition of the willing with statements, separate from the formal negotiation process, that would create momentum in particular categories or sectors like deforestation, coal, road transport, electrification. “Then secondly, in the negotiations, push for a consensus that further, significant tightening was necessary but also possible, and try to find a way to get those involved to agree to come back with that further tightening.” With this strategy in mind, Turner explained, these coalitions of the willing were in themselves a useful step forward, potentially providing six or seven gigatonnes of the 16 or so outlined in the ETC report. “Within that, the deforestation agreement, if it is actually delivered, is a big one, with about three gigatonnes,” he said. Moving on to the cause of Sharma’s public tears of frustration, Turner adds: “The one on coal was, frankly, disappointing. If you have a coal declaration not signed by China or India, you're not getting a huge step forward.” “The road transport ones: what matters there is not so much the countries, but the companies. And I think the truth on road transport electrification is that it's going to occur faster than the NDCs currently assume. So, there’s good news in terms of the inevitable technological progress there. Put all those together, as well as various other ones like shipping, and it was a step forward.”

Lord Adair Turner, Chair of the Energy Transitions Commission since January 2019.

Lord Turner also argues that the outcome of the negotiations at the summit was better than it was being credited with. He points to the mitigation section of the cover text, the overall summary of the Glasgow Declaration. Here, there is a clear agreement by all signatories of what needs to be done “for the first time in the 2020s”. The clause states that in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in emissions” are needed of 45% by 2030 when compared with 2010 levels, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases. Currently, global emissions are 13% above 2010 levels, meaning they need to be reduced by around 60%, and he points out that there was “a clear commitment” that countries should bring their NDCs forward to be in line with that pathway. “The art form of COP negotiations,” says Lord Turner, “is to wrap people into commitments that then constrain their future action and constrain the ratchet. And I think that was honestly as good as we were going to get in a negotiated outcome and quite a significant step forward.” The final day of the summit was left somewhat marred by the last-minute intervention by China and India to water down the text of the draft agreement on coal. Initially, the agreement used the words

“phase out” in relation to coal. This line was changed to “phase down” following lobbying from the two nations. The development prompted a visibly upset COP26 President Alok Sharma to apologise to the delegates for the sudden change, saying he was “deeply sorry” for how the summit had panned out. Despite New Delhi and Beijing's unusual display of cooperation, Turner is keen to point out that there is a “fundamental distinction” to be made between the two countries. While India is indeed a major polluter, if the data is measured using emissions per capita, then the picture changes. According to Worldometers, each person in India produces around 1.91 tonnes of CO2 per year. To put the number into context, Germany produces around 9.44 tonnes per capita, the UK emits 5.55, South Korea is 11.85 and the US is 15.5. “These numbers reflect the fact that India is a much poorer country. They also don't have winter heating needs in the same way. With India, there is a reasonable argument to say that they need to increase emissions for a period of time before bringing them down.” China, says Turner, is further along its road to net-zero, and currently has emissions comparable with the major economies of Europe. Given the trends of the moment, it is easy to see that the country will have significantly higher per capita emissions by 2025 or 2030. “Let's be clear, China is now a middleincome country. China says that by 2035, it will be an upper-middle-income country, and that by 2049, it will be a fully developed rich economy. This means that China needs to start owning the fact that they are not in the same category as India, let alone remotely the same category as most African nations.” Despite this blow to COP26's outcome, Lord Turner retains a level of optimism. “It’s still a significant step forward when you look at the US-China declaration which states that there will be a phasing down of coal within the 15th five-year plan, which is between 2025 and 2030.” “To get the temperature rise back down to 1.5°C, there is still a lot to do, but we have made progress. And that’s why I’d give n COP26 a six out of ten.”

Visit: www.energy-transitions.org Industry Europe 9


FOCUS ON – CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING

5 WAYS THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR CAN BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE The construction sector is facing an uphill battle in the constant struggle for sustainability, using a tremendous amount of the earth's resources and being one of the single largest contributors to pollution through greenhouse gas emissions and unclean air. It is often considered to be an essential industry for decarbonisation, but, as with everywhere, there are ample opportunities to turn things for the better.

10 Industry Europe


W

ant to know the best approaches to make green construction a reality? This guide is for you.

1. Carbon capture According to one report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), construction accounted for 39% of global carbon emissions in 2019, with 11% being attributed to the manufacturing of building materials such as cement, steel and glass. Cement, in particular, is something of a hot topic within the building trade to this day. Notoriously carbon-intensive, the manufacture of cement has seen a number of innovations in recent years - such as the recent Hansen UK trial which powered a cement kiln with hydrogen - but the prevailing thought is that completely decarbonising cement production is either impossible or very difficult with current methods. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology removes carbon - either from the air or sequesters it from industrial processes - and stores it. From there it can be kept indefinitely, or reused for other purposes. Sustainability is more than just about recycling - it's about adhering to the circular economy. Reusing carbon within the construction sector presents a lot of choices. It could be stored and used to make more concrete, it could be turned into insulation or foam for housing or it could even be turned into bricks.

2. Innovations in green steel As mentioned previously, construction materials account for a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2020, the global steel industry, which accounts for around 8% of emissions, produced a total of 1.86 billion metric tonnes and turned over hundreds of billions of dollars. One of the leading ways to replace traditional fossil fuels in steel production is

through hydrogen. Industry Europe recently did an interview with Primetals' Dr Alexander Fleischanderl about the HYFOR green steel project in Austria, which seeks to highlight the possibilities for decarbonisation in this carbon-intensive sector. Swedish steelmaker SSAB confirmed at the COP26 summit it will be launching its first set of products made using fossil-free steel in 2026, which was made using iron ore reduced using hydrogen instead of coal and coke, which was delivered to its first customer, Swedish automaker Volvo, in August.

3. Clean air Heavy industry tends to send a lot of particular matter into the air, which can cause complications, such as respiratory diseases. The coronavirus pandemic brought about an increased emphasis on hygiene and filtration which has had knock-on effects on the construction sector, such as the need for proper air filtration. Not only can dirty air have adverse effects on workers - exposing them to particulate matter can present the same health effects - but it can also affect local communities. Spores, dust, or odours can create dangerous conditions near construction sites. The use of high-quality air filtration systems can absorb or collect the particles. While many people can inhale small amounts of these particles without any adverse effects, in high volumes particulate matter can be deadly. In addition, those with weakened immune systems may be at risk from lower volumes.

4. Responsible wood use Wood is one of the world's most abundant natural resources and trees offer a natural form of carbon capture. Outside of the needs for the construction sector, the threat of deforestation looms in countries such as Brazil, and the Amazon rainfor-

est, often referred to as "the lungs of the world" reportedly now emits more CO2 than it absorbs. Back in 2019 Industry Europe looked into the Metsä Wood’s Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumber) products, which not only offered timber as a sustainable building material but also significantly increased the speed at which dwellings could be constructed.

5. 3D printing 3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), can be very useful for smaller-scale construction projects. Based on the principles of reusing, recycling and reducing, 3D printing isn't entirely carbon-neutral but can be a useful method for sustainability. For example, 3D printing structures in development by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) may have discovered a way for the technology to aid in the restoration of coral reefs, which are being wiped out at unprecedented levels due to the climate crisis. While not necessarily relevant to construction in itself, the process - 3D printing calcium carbonate - could be useful. AM initially used plastics or metals in its processes, but now graphene, graphite, resins and carbon fibers see use all the time. Italy's WASP built what it claims was the world's first 3D printed habitat back in January 2021, with the entire process being done through reusable or recyclable materials, mainly collected from local soil, and was completed by having multiple high-powered 3D printers operating simultaneously. For those that wish to take to the skies, Texas-based construction company ICON partnered with NASA and created the world's first 3D printed rocket pad. These are just some of the ways in which the construction sector can become more sustainable, but there are many more methods out n there. Did we miss any? Let us know! Industry Europe 11


DIGITAL REACH WWW.INDUSTRYEUROPE.COM

VISITOR STATS 50264

MONTHLY VISITORS

19602 / 39%

RETURNING VISITORS

30662 / 61%

NEW MONTHLY VISITORS

REFERRAL AND TRAFFIC 51%

ORGANIC SEARCHES

17%

SOCIAL MEDIA

24%

DIRECT

8%

REFERRAL

Covering the latest trends in European & Global Industry

Total unique visitors:

470 136



NEWS

New developments in the Aerospace & Defence

Airbus and Rolls-Royce SAF feasibility study shows early signs of promise by Ash Jones

A

feasibility study into sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) conducted by aerospace companies such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus, German research centre DLR and oil company Neste has shown early signs of promise, potentially paving the way for low-emission flight. The test saw an Airbus A350 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines - both of which contained SAF - successfully flights, marking the second time in the past few months a Trent engine has been at the centre of a sustainable fuel trial. In-flight emissions tests were conducted earlier this year and recently resumed, having been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Back in April, the A350 completed three flights over the Mediterranean pursued by a DLR Falcon chaser plane to compare in-flight emissions with other SAF blends. This chaser is equipped with multiple probes to measure emissions at cruise level and flies within 100 metres of the aircraft. Tests using different blends resumes in early November and the team have reported no operating difficulties and reported SAF releases fewer particulates than traditional kerosene,

meaning the blends stand to not only reduce emissions, but also air pollution - something that has become a hot topic with the coronavirus pandemic. An interdisciplinary team consisting of researchers from the National Research Council of Canada and The University of Manchester plans to publish its results in academic journals towards the end of next year and 2023. “Engines and fuel systems can be tested on the ground but the only way to gather the full set of emissions data necessary for this programme to be successful is to fly an aircraft in real conditions", said Steven Le Moing, the director for New Energy at Airbus. “In-flight testing of the A350 offers the advantage of characterising direct and indirect engine emissions, including particulates from behind an aircraft at high altitude", he added. The aviation sector is currently facing mounting pressure to switch away from fossil fuels, although most aircraft are currently only certified to fly on 50% SAF, although key players state adoption of 100% sustainable fuel is the key to decarbonising the sector. Rolls-Royce has also previously claimed it could operate Trent engines on 100% SAF as early as 2023.

While deadlines for net-zero differ companyto-company, current trends place the switch between 2040 and 2060. The US recently pledged to decarbonise its aviation sector by 2050, putting its goals in a similar ballpark to other major economies. “This research adds to tests we’ve already carried out on our engines, both on the ground and in the air, which have found no engineering obstacle to our engines running on 100% SAF", said Simon Burr, the director for product development and technology at Rolls-Royce's Civil Aerospace division. "If we are to truly decarbonise long-haul air travel, then 100% SAF is a critical element and we are committed to supporting its certification for service.” Visit: www.rolls-royce.com

Boeing bets $450m on pilotless electric flying taxi maker Wisk by Steven Gislam

B

oeing has announced it is to invest a further $450 million (€399 million) in California-based eVTOL company Wisk Aero to support the development of future autonomous electric flying taxis. Wisk Aero is owned by Boeing and Kittyhawk, the electric aviation firm founded by Google co-founder Larry Page. The Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company differs from its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) competitors in that it focuses on autonomous flight. The Boeing investment has made it one of the world's most well-funded AAM companies, Wisk said in a statement. Boeing CEO Marc Allen said the investment was a reconfirmation of the aerospace giant's belief in Wisk and its "pioneering all-electric, AI-driven, autonomous capability for the aerospace industry". "Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale across all AAM applications, from passenger to cargo and beyond. That’s why straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle," he said in a press release. The choice to leapfrog a generation of the piloted eVTOL aircraft currently under development by startups and established aerospace com14 Industry Europe

panies would entail a later entry onto the market than the 2024 target date that most of Wisk's competitors envisage. While Boeing gave no date for what it is calling the sixth generation of Wisk passenger vehicle, industry sources have suggested it will be presented for certification in 2028. Boeing said it would be the first autonomous passenger-carrying vehicle to be certified in the United States. Wisk says it intends to operate one of the industry's largest fleets of AAM eVTOL aircraft. The company anticipates close to 14 million flights annually, with more than 40 million passengers across 20 cities in the US. Gary Gysin, Wisk CEO, said: "We are incredibly fortunate to have Boeing as not only an investor but a strategic partner, which provides us with access to a breadth of resources, industry-leading expertise, a global reach, extensive certification experience, and more. "As we enter this next stage of our growth, this additional funding provides us with capital while allowing us to remain focused on our core business and our number one priority, safety." Visit: www.boeing.com


AEROSPACE & DEFENCE NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS

Airbus to develop power

systems for Lunar Gateway by Ash Jones

A

irbus Crisa, an affiliate of aerospace giant Airbus, has signed a $50 million contract to develop a power management and distribution (PMAD) system for Northrop Grumman's new lunar gateway module, servicing astronauts on their way to the Moon. This will be the second module for the lunar gateway station - codenamed HALO (short for Habitation and Logistics Outpost) - which is currently set for liftoff in 2024 as part of NASA's plans to return to the moon. Set to launch initially with these two modules, current plans will allow for as many as five separate modules offering different services as part of the same station in the years following the launch. Crisa will be providing key electronic systems and software for integration within the station's systems. As they stand, plans are for this new module to be used as a laboratory while also offering logistics for future manned trips to both the Moon and Mars. The HALO will be expected to provide facilities for an expected 40 days of habitation for astronauts for the first missions. It is the second major module of the lunar gateway after the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), which is to be powered through solar arrays and should be kept in a stable orbit around the moon using thrusters.

"This contract worth more than $50 million reflects our ability to deliver highly specialised space equipment to global manufacturers and is our first contribution to the Moon-orbiting Gateway, which is part of NASA’s Artemis programme to return to the Moon," said Fernando Gómez-Carpintero, CEO of Airbus Crisa. He described the PMAD systems as "unique for the industry", but hopes it will become a staple feature found in space stations of the future. The systems will "ensure that HALO's battery remains at optimal levels and ready for use when the panels do not receive sufficient sunlight", he added. "PMAD must also provide power to visiting vehicles when they dock". The PMAD system has four power units and will manage the electricity generated from the PPE's solar panels. It should distribute the power to onboard equipment and the rest of the station as required, always ensuring the safety of the crew on board. It is also set to power the life support systems and interior lighting. Visit: www.crisa.es

Coventry's Aurrigo unveils airport digital twin in US by Ash Jones

U

K-based transport company Aurrigo is set to embark on a first for the aviation sector, providing a digital twin of operations for Gerald R Ford Airport in Michigan that could provide the blueprint for airports of the future. The Auto-Sim software should allow operators to micro-manage site operations, identify cost-saving opportunities and could stand to enhance overall customer experience while potentially laying the footprint for autonomous operations. The project was funded via a testing grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, which should allow Aurrigo to build a model of airside operations, covering roadways, intersections, stands and all operational vehicle types and movements.

Engineering for the UK firm will be based at their hub in the UK but will keep in touch with the Airport to integrate vehicle fleet capacity and flight schedules so they can simulate airside servicing to benchmark current operations and predict future scenarios. The platform can also simulate airside servicing to benchmark current operations and try to predict future scenarios. “The world’s airports are all facing the same challenge of providing greater levels of customer service with the most cost-effective use of resources and minimal environmental impact. It’s a careful balancing act and one brought into even sharper focus with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic", Aurrigo CEO David Keene said in a statement. He added: “[The Auto-Sim] allows airport planners to model the operational processes, financial implications, customer journey experience and environmental impact of implementing new technology without the risk of expensive mistakes. “We hope it will encourage other airports within the US and around the world to utilise the Auto-SimÒ platform to streamline operations

and reduce their environmental impact, whilst also providing the optimal customer experience and preparing them for future operations that involve airside automated vehicles.” The GRF Airport is currently the second largest airport in Michigan, caters for nearly 3.6 million passengers annually and handled 41.4 million kg of air freight in 2019 alone. Aurrigo claims the digital twin can simulate and replicate the airport's busiest periods which could account for up to 112 flights per day and up to 1,000 individual activities to factor in. Tory Richardson, president and CEO of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority said the scheme enables the Airport to partner with companies with a drive for innovation within the aviation sector. “We are proud to welcome Aurrigo to our Airport to offer them the opportunity to test the Auto-Sim platform alongside our airside operations", he added. The project should commence by the end of May 2022, and the two partners will work alongside Southwest Airlines, Stantec, Seamless and the Michigan Office of Future Mobility & Electrification. Visit: https://aurrigo.com Industry Europe 15


NEWS

New developments in Aerospace & Defence

United Airlines bets on hydrogen jets with ZeroAvia purchase by Ash Jones

U

nited Airlines has become the largest airliner in the world to invest in hydrogen flight following its acquisition of a new equity stake in UKbased startup ZeroAvia. The purchase could help the US aerospace company launch a fleet of 100 hydrogen-powered jets by 2028 as part of its plans to operate at net-zero emissions by 2050, by retrofitting existing aircraft with ZeroAvia engines. “Hydrogen-electric engines are one of the most promising paths to zeroemission air travel for smaller aircraft, and this investment will keep United out in front on this important emerging technology,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “United continues to look for opportunities to not only advance our own sustainability initiatives but also identify and help technologies and solutions that the entire industry can adopt.” Hydrogen jets have seen significantly less development than alternatives such as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), which has turned some heads in the sector, with major players believing significantly more innovation is required to make the technology a reality. The only by-product of burning hydrogen is water, which means there is littleto-no environmental impact from using it as a fuel. Hydrogen-electric engines

use electricity created by a chemical reaction in a fuel cell to power an electric motor instead of burning fossil fuel. ZeroAvia revealed it completed its first hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight of a commercial aircraft in September 2020. Earlier in December, United completed a passenger jet trial with SAF. The startup's engines are expected to be operated in pairs as a new power source for existing aircraft. ZeroAvia CEO Val Miftakhov said continued investment in hydrogen engines show there is some life in the concept which could soon offer stiff competition to other forms of low-carbon flight. “The United Express routes powered by hydrogen-electric aircraft will be enabling large numbers of passengers to take zero-emission flights well within this decade", he added. ZeroAvia is set to continue hydrogen tests on smaller aircraft, hoping to commence commercial use of smaller hydrogen-powered aircraft by 2024. It claims it has secured experimental certificates for two prototype aircraft from the FAA in the United States and the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK and has passed significant flight test milestones. Visit: www.united.com

Arms industry sees continued growth despite pandemic - SIPRI by Ash Jones

A

new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has found the arms industry has faced continual growth, despite the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. The top 100 providers of arms and military services reportedly made a net profit of around $531 billion (€420 billion) in 2020, an increase of around 1.3% from 2019. Data collected from the arms industry has noted a 17% increase in sales since 2015, the first year since SIPRI started collecting data from Chinese companies. For 2020, growth still held strong despite most major economies contracting during the worst of the pandemic. "The industry giants were largely shielded by sustained government demand for military goods and services", said Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher with the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. "In much of the world, military spending grew and some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis", she added. However, operating within the military market has not shielded all arms companies from losses. The report found that French arms 16 Industry Europe

manufacturer Thales, for example, suffered net losses of around 5.8%. The pandemic also wrought havoc on supply chains, which caused disruptions and delays across pretty much every major global industry. The US topped SIPRI's list, with 41 of the top 100 arms dealers located within its borders, representing around $285 billion (€252 billion) in arms deals. The top five ranked companies have all been located in the US since 2018. In addition, SIPRI reports the US arms sector is currently undergoing a number of mergers and acquisitions, helping broaden their portfolios and continuing to stimulate growth. Five Chinese companies also found their way into the SIPRI top 100 rankings, seeing a 1.9% increase in profits from 2019, and representing around 13% of sales. Military modernisation within the nation, as well as the fusion of the military and civil sec-

tors, have caused a boom in the industry and caused Chinese companies to offer some of the most advanced technology on the market. 26 European companies - including seven UK-based ones - accounted for around 26% of profits for 2020, despite many suffering losses, particularly within the French arms industry. German arms companies also saw an increase of 1.7% on average from 2019, but companies reported more mixed results. For example, the country's largest defence firm Rheinmetall recorded a year-on-year increase of 5.7% while shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp recorded a 3.7% drop in profits. The country economy ministry released official data back in August revealing the country's arms industry had committed to sales of €22.5 billion since October 2017, when the current legislative period began. Finally, combined arms sales from the eight Russian companies in the top 100 reported a 6.5% decline from 2019, in part due to the diversification of offerings, the end of the 2011 State Armament Programme, and complications from the pandemic. However, Russian companies have pledged to increase their civilian sales by 50% by 2030. Visit: https://sipri.org/


AEROSPACE & DEFENCE NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS

Embraer to sell Portuguese manufacturing sites to Aernnova by Romana Moares

E

mbraer has agreed to sell aerostructures operations in Portugal to Spanish aerospace company Aernnova for $172 million (€149 million) to optimise its manufacturing footprint. The deal will see Aernnova acquire two Embraer operations in the city of Evora: the 37,100 m2 Embraer Metalicas site, and the 31,800 m2 Embraer Compositos facility, the Brazilian airframer announced on 12 January. Those operations employ a combined 500 staff and produce metallic and composite components for wings, horizontal stabilisers and vertical stabilisers. The components are found on Embraer’s primary aircraft programmes, including its E-Jet commercial airliners, Praetor 500 and 600 business jets and KC-390 military transport.

Embraer's chief executive Francisco Gomes Neto calls the divestitures an important step towards the company's footprint optimisation strategic initiative, which aims to enhance its assets and improve the company’s profitability. Acquiring the Embraer assets reflects Aernnova’s growth intentions, says chief executive Ricardo Chocarro. “This agreement strengthens Aernnova’s position as a tier-one supplier for single-aisle aircraft and improves its presence in the executive and defence aerospace markets,” he adds. The sites will generate about $170 million in annual revenue. Aernnova has a long history of working with Embraer, having landed its first contract with the airframer in 1993, for the design and manufacturing of ERJ145 wings. Its other work includes manufacturing stabilisers, rudders and other components for Embraer’s E-Jets, and parts for Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

10 AI & Autonomy Startups Join Aerospace Xelerated’s Third Cohort

A

erospace Xelerated has announced the ten new startups to join its third cohort. The programme, led by industry partner Boeing, has selected startups using AI and autonomous technology to solve key challenges for the aerospace sector. From 148 applications from around the world, the companies joining the programme come from across the UK, Europe, North America and Oceania. Nichola Bates, Managing Partner at Aerospace Xelerated and Head of Global Accelerators and Innovation Programs at Boeing said: “We ended 2021 with a great success from our previous programmes. HiiROC announced a £26M funding round which included Melrose Industries, the owners of our programme partner GKN Aerospace, who met the HiiROC team through the accelerator last year. Proving that by bringing together startups with industry through our programme, great things can happen. “We’re incredibly excited to welcome our new cohort who are using groundbreaking technologies to solve some incredibly complex problems for the aerospace industry. From making it easier and efficient to gather complex data for aircraft maintenance teams to building the technology to enable unmanned flight, we can’t wait to see what comes out of the 12 weeks ahead.” Alongside Boeing, programme partners GKN Aerospace and the Ministry of Defence’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), will provide the cohort with industry insights and expertise. The companies will have access to strategists and technical experts for support in developing proof of concept opportunities and receive mentoring from a global network of experienced entrepreneurs, mentors and investors.

The ten AI and autonomous technology startups joining cohort three cover the programme’s key focuses; assured autonomy, autonomous navigation, adaptive learning, generative design, smart maintenance and reduced workload. Amongst the founding teams, 60% are first-time founders, 30% have a female founder, and 20% are ethnic minorities. 70% of the companies are seed stage. 60% of the teams have an office in the UK, and 20% are operating teams remotely around the world.

The cohort includes: Amygda (Derby, UK) - a data observability platform for smart maintenance in high-value asset industries to reduce unnecessary maintenance and increase the reliability and sustainability of assets. The Airline Pilot Club (Dublin, Ireland) - a digital talent marketplace using AI and behavioural science to break down barriers to entry and improve quality standards in the pilot selection, training and recruitment process. Axion (US) - an AI-powered proactive management platform for engineering and quality leaders to accelerate development. Flare Bright (Aylesbury, UK) - the machinelearning company enables drone manufacturers to build digital twins to rapidly speed up the long test and evaluation process, running many times faster than real-time to optimise for more confident real-world tests. LexX Technologies (Melbourne, Australia) - LexX uses AI, machine learning and natural language processing to empower aircraft

maintenance technicians to bring their data, knowledge, and experience together in one efficient and intelligent solution. Neurobotx (US) - the first neuromorphic AI platform for autonomous navigation, capable of one-microsecond obstacle detection and decision making based on big data, inspired by energyefficient brain navigation. Pegasus Imagery (Edmonton, Canada) - develops autonomous aircraft and sensor systems to connect industry and government end-users with ondemand aerial imagery to solve challenges at scale. Sees.ai (Chichester & London, UK) - building the most advanced connected, autonomous command and control solution to enable safe and scalable unmanned flight in even the most challenging circumstances. Seidr (South Wales, UK) - a virtual learning and testing environment for crisis situations. Using immersive technology to generate novel conditions in safe-to-fail environments, so that plans and learning can be validated within evolving situations. TOffeeAM (London, UK) - a SaaS company providing an integrated cloud-based solution for advanced manufacturing. The two previous cohorts have gone on to raise over £50M in additional funding and create more than 100 jobs across the UK. At the end of 2021, cohort two startup HiiROC announced a £26M funding round, to expand the deployment of pilot units of its technology, producing affordable hydrogen at scale but without CO2 emissions. The programme will run for 12 weeks, culminating in a Demo Day in April 2022. For more information go to https://xelerated.aero Industry Europe 17


NEWS

New developments in the Chemicals & Biochemicals

Carbios to bring its enzyme recycling to Europe

by Ash Jones

F

rance's Carbios has unveiled plans to scale up its enzyme recycling to the wider European market by opening another plant at a yet-undisclosed location on the continent. The firm has narrowed its choice down to two locations, one in France, that will allow it to bring its C-ZYME tech to a wider market in a bid to cut down on plastic pollution following promising tests at its demonstration plant back in September. C-ZYME converts plastic polymers into its base ingredients, which can then be used to make 100% recycled and 100% recyclable PET, reportedly without loss of quality. Back in 2019, the EU pledged to ban the use of certain single-use plastics. The Directive on single-use plastics came into effect in June 2021, which saw things such as plastic straws banned for commercial use in the bloc. Plastic waste is one of the leading issues associated with the climate crisis today. According to 2019 data, the EU produces nearly 26 million tonnes of plastic waste annually - around 80% of which ends up in the world's oceans. Major players in the industry are aiming to be 100% recyclable by 2025, and Carbios hopes accelerating production will aid in the EU's goals of reaching the circular economy.

“To be ready for 2025... We are entering the final stage of our industrial development. Discussions with our potential partners and public authorities are in process and we can expect the location of our future first-of-itskind reference unit to be announced in the coming weeks,” Carbios CEO Emmanuel Ladent said in a statement. The company have continued to replicate the results seen at its pilot plant, which it claims shows the tech is ready to bring to a larger audience. The team are currently completing audits in line with various PET manufacturers and have hired new talent to make its new location a success. Initial engineering work is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and the plant should commence production by the 2025 deadline. For more information, visit: www.carbios.com

8.4 million tonnes of plastic waste generated by Covid-19, study finds by Steven Gislam

T

he Covid-19 pandemic has generated around 8.4 million tonnes of "mismanaged" plastic waste worldwide, with more than 25,000 tonnes of that finding its way into the oceans, according to a newly published study. Published in the online journal PNAS, 'Plastic waste release caused by COVID-19 and its fate in the global ocean', also found that a large portion of this ocean plastic is likely to be washed up on beaches or become entangled in the seabed over the next three to four years. A smaller amount will remain in the open ocean, potentially accumulating as garbage patches. The Arctic Ocean was highlighted as being an area of particular concern. The researchers found that over 80% of plastic debris that is washed into the region will quickly sink. They 18 Industry Europe

added that by 2025, a circumpolar plastic accumulation zone is likely to have formed. "The recent Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for single-use plastics that intensifies pressure on an already out-of-control global plastic waste problem," said the report's authors Yiming Peng and Peipei Wu of Nanjing University in China. "The released plastics can be transported over long distances in the ocean, encounter marine wildlife, and potentially lead to injury or even death," they added. The report also warned that the discarded plastic waste could "facilitate species invasion and transport of contaminants" including Covid-19. According to the study, 46% of the waste came from Asia, largely due to the prevalence of mask-wearing there, 24% came from Europe and 22% from the Americas. The research also suggested that the vast majority of the excess waste - 87.4% - came from hospitals rather than personal use, which accounted for just 7.6%. Packaging and test kits made up 4.7% and 0.3% respectively. "Most of the plastic is from medical waste generated by hospitals that dwarfs the contribution

from personal protection equipment and onlineshopping package material," wrote Peng and Wu. "This poses a long-lasting problem for the ocean environment and is mainly accumulated on beaches and coastal sediments. We call for better medical waste management in pandemic epicentres, especially in developing countries." To conduct the research, the team used a newly developed ocean plastic numerical model in order to quantify the impact of the coronavirus on plastic discharge from inland sources, and incorporated data from the start of the pandemic in early 2020 up to August 2021. Study co-author Amina Schartup of UC San Diego said: "The biggest sources of excess waste were hospitals in areas already struggling with waste management before the pandemic; they just weren't set up to handle a situation where you have more waste." In order to tackle the problem, the researchers called for improved management of medical waste, especially in developing countries. They also urged for greater public awareness of the impact that discarded PPE and other plastic waste has on the environment. For more information, visit: www.pnas.org


CHEMICALS & BIOCHEMICALS NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Borealis & Reclay join forces to accelerate plastics circularity by Romana Moares

A

ustrian chemicals firm Borealis and German recovery and recycling specialist Reclay have joined forces to meet the increased demand for recyclate materials for high-end plastic applications. The partnership aims to optimise the recycling value chain starting with Germany, one of the largest European recycling markets, and further accelerate the transition to plastics circularity by enabling customers and other value chain partners to meet their own sustainability targets. The new agreement provides the Austrianheadquartered company Borealis with access to a secure and steady supply of feedstock in the form of lightweight packaging (LWP) waste collected by Reclay’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme in Germany. The plastic packaging waste will then be processed at Borealis’ own state-of-the-art

recycling plants, thus extending the range of applications for which recycled plastics can be used. This in turn enables value chain partners, customers, and brand owners to meet recycling quotas and increase the volume of plastic recyclate used in products and applications. Lucrèce Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation & Technology

Eastman's ambitious $1bn plastic recycling plans in France by Romana Moares

U

S-based speciality materials company Eastman has announced its plan to invest up to $1 billion in a material-to-material molecular recycling facility in France. This facility would use Eastman’s polyester renewal technology to recycle up to 160,000 metric tonnes per year of hard-to-recycle plastic waste that is currently being incinerated. The investment would recycle enough plastic waste annually to fill Stade de France national football stadium 2.5 times, while also creating virginquality material with a significantly lower carbon footprint. Eastman is the largest investor at this year's "Choose France" event, which is focused on attracting foreign investment to France. Eastman also plans to establish an innovation centre for molecular recycling that would enable France to sustain a leadership role in the circular economy. This innovation centre would advance alternative recycling methods and applications to curb plastic waste incineration and leave fossil feedstock in the ground. The plant and innovation centre would be expected to be operational by 2025, creating employment for approximately 350 people and leading to an additional 1,500 indirect jobs in recycling, energy and infrastructure. Eastman’s project has also garnered support from an impressive roster of global brands who share its commitment to solving the world’s plastic waste problem and view molecular recycling as a pivotal tool for achieving circularity. LVMH Beauty, The Estée Lauder Companies, Clarins, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal and Danone are leading the way by signing letters of intent for multiyear supply agreements from this facility.

and Circular Economy Solutions said: “Working together with the Reclay Group is a strategic step towards value chain integration in securing plastic waste feedstock and improving recyclability. This will enable our customers and partners to achieve their circularity goals and reduce their overall carbon footprint, and at the same time underpins our Borealis journey towards more sustainable living.” “We are proud to be working in partnership with an innovative and globally recognised company in the chemical industry moving into the future,” said Raffael A. Fruscio, Owner and Managing Director of the Reclay Group. “Borealis has state-of-the-art processes in the field of advanced recycling; we’ll jointly be setting a new standard in plastic recycling.” Visit: https://www.borealisgroup.com

"Accelerating the transition to a circular economy is one of the main challenges in the years to come. Eastman's substantial investment in France demonstrates our country's willingness to embrace innovative technologies that will help us achieve our ecological and economic ambitions, by revolutionizing our country's plastics recycling capacities," said Barbara Pompili, French Minister for Ecological Transition. "The plan to build the world's largest plastics recycling facility in France is an important part of our overall circular economy strategy," Eastman CEO Mark Costa added. "Today's announcement is a key milestone towards our commitment, and we expect to achieve additional milestones in the coming months, including agreements related to securing the plastic waste that will be raw material supply, securing government incentives, and the site location decision." Visit: www.eastman.com

French President Emmanuel Macron & Mark Costa, CEO, Eastman.

Industry Europe 19


NEWS

New developments in Chemicals & Biochemicals

Plastic could be even worse for the planet than we originally thought by Ash Jones

P

lastic could be even worse for the environment than previously thought owing to processes such as the use of coal in production being greatly underestimated, researchers from ETH Zurich have suggested. The team analysed the global value chains of the plastics industry over a 20 year period and have hinted demand could continue to climb - demand has quadrupled in the last 40 years - despite global movements to limit plastic pollution and its effects on the environment and human health. Published in the Nature Sustainability journal, the study aimed to look at the issues with plastic across its life cycle, including the production stage. “Plastics are useful, cheap and extremely popular”, the report’s authors state. “The public is aware of the environmental harm caused by plastics, particularly at the end of their life cycle, such as when they release greenhouse gases and air pollutants when burned, or pollute water and soil in the form of microplastics”, it adds, but states they do not expect them to disappear any time soon. Commonly used in plastic bottles, carrier bags and in children’s toys, much of the global problem of plastic pollution is down to a handful of companies. Research into plastic pollution primarily attempts to tackle the issue at the disposal stage - preventing people from littering and adding to the massive amount of plastic waste

entering the world’s oceans each year or from disposal methods like incineration. With the Pacific Ocean currently home to a giant plastic island a little larger than Mongolia, dealing with plastic pollution has become one of the key topics of our time and has become one of the leading causes of environmentalism. According to one analysis from May 2021 by BBC Future Planet, only 16% of the world’s plastic is recycled. A National Geographic report from three years’ earlier claims only 9% of plastic was recycled at that time. Thankfully, however, the energy transition has spurred some creative uses for existing plastic waste in a bid to create green energy from existing sources, ranging from converting them back into their raw materials to converting it into hydrogen. It has also spurred a revolution in bioplastics - plastics created using alternative materials or technologies. “So far, the simplistic assumption has been that the production of plastics requires roughly the same amount of fossil resources as the amount of raw materials contained in plastics – particularly petroleum,” says Livia Cabernard, a doctoral student at the Institute of Science, Technology and Policy (ISTP) at ETH Zurich, adding that weighing up production versus disposal had been severely underestimated. For the study, the team determined the greenhouse gas emissions across plastic’s life cycle, from fossil fuel extraction to disposal,

TotalEnergies & Plastic Energy move Spain closer to a circular economy by Ash Jones

T

otalEnergies and Plastic Energy have teamed up to build an advanced plastic recycling project in Seville, Spain to provide virgin-grade polymers for use in food packaging. The plant is expected to begin operations in 2025 and could process as much as 33,000 tonnes of plastic waste annually and will go alongside Plastic Energy’s existing recycling facilities in Spain. As plastic waste continues to amass in the world’s oceans and in landfills, the challenge of tackling the mounting threat has become one of the foremost issues at the heart of dealing with the climate crisis. There is currently a plastic island, dubbed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, roughly the size of Mongolia in the Pacific Ocean. According to one study, around 14 million tonnes of plastic waste enters the world’s oceans per year. 300 million tonnes is produced annually, on average.

20 Industry Europe

varying from recycling, incineration and being dumped in a landfill. The research found that newly-industrialised countries, such as China, India, South Africa and Indonesia, are currently the leading cause for the growing “carbon footprint” for plastics - reportedly having increased 50-fold on average since 1995. Globally, coal-based emissions have quadrupled since 1995, now accounting for nearly half of plastic’s emissions, the report suggests. When coal is burned, it not only releases greenhouse gases, but also particulate matter, which can cause other issues associated with air pollution, such as respiratory diseases. Another revelation in the study is that twice as many fossil fuels are used in the production of plastics than is contained in the raw material. If true, this could mean previous environmental estimates for plastic pollution could be insufficient. Cabernard claims the production phase of plastics contains the “lion’s share” of emissions, even in the “worst-case scenario” where all plastic produced is incinerated at the end of its life. The study was able to conclude its findings thanks to the discovery of new methodology, based on another study into the effects on production on plastic greenhouse gas emissions, though the study reportedly misjudged its emissions output, in part to it not acknowledging the effects of outsourcing plastic production to coal-heavy countries. Visit: https://ethz.ch

Plastic waste that is disposed of is often sent to developing nations and incinerated, a major cause of air pollution. Both companies hope this new plant will bring the nation one step closer to the circular economy. “I am pleased to announce another new Plastic Energy plant in Spain, and a new collaboration agreement between our two businesses”, said Carlos Monreal, founder and CEO of Plastic Energy. “This new large-scale recycling plant will be an impactful addition to our existing portfolio of operational plants in Spain and will allow for an increase in the number of end-of-life plastics that we can recycle in Europe”. Both companies announced a joint venture back in 2020 detailing the construction of a plastics conversion plant in France, with a target output of 15,000 tonnes annually, which is expected to be operational in 2023. Another project is planned for the US, according to Valérie Goff, TotalEnergies’ Senior Vice President for Polymers. “These projects contribute to addressing the challenge of the circular economy and to our ambition of producing 30% recycled and renewable polymers by 2030”, she added. Visit: https://totalenergies.com


CHEMICALS & BIOCHEMICALS NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS

The £1.8m challenge to tackle plastic waste in Sub-Saharan Africa by Steven Gislam

Nesta Challenges If you’re working on a solution to tackle plasticwaste in Sub-Saharan Africa, you could secure a grant of £50,000 to support in the development and validation of your solution by entering strand 3 of the AfriPlasticsChallenge. Find out more at: https://afri-plastics.challenges.org

I

n the third and final strand of the Afri-Plastics Challenge, the UK-based innovation foundation Nesta Challenges is to award £1.8 million (€2.1 million) to creative campaigns, tools and interventions that tackle the problem of plastic waste in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 17 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Africa annually with only 12% being recycled. The remaining 88% is either burned, buried or dumped, with significant quantities entering the rivers and oceans. This third strand of the Challenge, entitled Promoting Change, follows July’s Accelerating Growth strand which looked for new innovations in the management of plastic pollution, and the Creating Solutions strand, which was launched in October 2020 with the aim of seeking innovative ways to reduce or eliminate the use of plastic across the continent. Promoting Change focuses on public engagement strategies to promote behavioural change in individuals and communities. The challenge is to create programmes, campaigns, tools and other creative interventions, such as incentives, gamification, stimuli and storytelling to transmit the message, that change behaviour and contribute to the empowerment of women and girls.

When the challenge is over, the best solutions will be those which have generated evidence of a change in behaviour in one or more of the four focus areas: • • • •

The reduction of hazardous waste. The segregation of plastic waste. The choice of reusable options. Refuse single-use plastic.

In April 2022, 30 finalists will be awarded £5,000 (€5,850) to aid further development of their concepts, before judging in June. 15 finalists will be chosen, and each awarded £50,000 for continued project development. The three winning teams will be selected in March 2023 and each awarded £250,000. In addition to the financial support, Nesta Challenges and industry experts will provide the teams with capacity building expertise to support the development of their ideas. Constance Agyeman, Director of International Development, Nesta Challenges said: “Plastic pollution is a terrible and ever-growing threat to the environment and health of sub-Saharan African communities. Sustainable consumer choices will make the difference between disaster and success in taking on the millions

of tonnes of plastic being dumped, buried and burnt each year across the continent. “Not only do we need innovation to minimise the quantity of plastic being produced and to better manage plastic waste after it is used, but the key to the long-term success of tackling plastic pollution will be people and the choices they make – creative communications that shift behaviour and attitudes around plastic use are essential.” The Afri-Plastics Challenge is funded by the Government of Canada and is part of the $100 million Marine Litter Mitigation Fund, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in 2018. Applications to the Afri-Plastics Challenge: Promoting Change strand are still open. Applicants must have a new or early-stage idea focussed on sub-Saharan Africa. Entries are welcomed from registered businesses, NGOs, community groups and individuals. Entrants from outside of sub-Saharan Africa must be in partnership with a sub-Saharan African lead applicant. The deadline for entries is 16 February 2022 at 12 noon (GMT). More information can be found and applications can be made on the Afri-Plastics Challenge website. Visit: https://afri-plastics.challenges.org Industry Europe 21


NEWS

New developments in the Construction & Engineering

Skanska puts worker wellbeing first in new trial by Ash Jones

S

kanska has taken measures to improve the mental wellbeing of workers on construction sites by offering training courses for employees, who can then display a small sticker on their uniforms to let others know they are a qualified mental health First Aider. The company reports that 55% of its employees have undergone training by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) since the relationship between the two firms began in 2016, with both hoping to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues in the workplace. The initiative has been rolled out across its £255 million (€306 million) M42 Junction 6 Improvement Scheme for UK National Highways. Of the 100 workers employed on the project, eight are qualified mental health First Aiders. Those who have taken the course will display their stickers on their hard helmets, which will allow those who need assistance to be able to identify them immediately.

It is likely the programme will be rolled out to other sites in the future, with more people qualified under MHFA guidelines donning the stickers to help their fellow workers. “As a contractor, you are starting new jobs all the time and having to drop into new places and sites without a network. It’s difficult to build communities", Tricia O’Neill, Skanska’s Head of Health Risk Management said in a statement. "You will often spend long periods away from your family, friends, and your GP. If you’re only there for a few months, people may not get to know you, meaning recognising if someone is struggling and offering the right support and signposting becomes more difficult", she added. The entire concept was the brainchild of Ken Reid, the health and safety manager of the Junction 6 project with the express purpose of removing the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health issues. "The sticker easily identifies those who are trained and can provide support. People know who to speak to quickly, and if necessary, discreetly, so that they can get the help they need", he said. Reid added there are key benefits to having qualified mental health professionals on-site, particularly as people get back to work following the coronavirus, where people have been feeling greater levels of loneliness or isolation. “The last couple of years have been tough... The training from Mental Health First Aid England has

Port of Genoa receives €300m loan for expansion by Romana Moares

T

he Port of Genoa in Italy is set to receive a €300 million loan from the European Investment Bank for expansion and renewal. The money will help finance a range of works at the port, including upgrades to terminals, environmental management works and the construction of a new breakwater - a barrier built out into the sea to protect the port and visiting vessels from the force of waves. Gelsomina Vigliotti, EIB Vice-President, said: “We are proud to support the infrastructure and environmental development of the Port of Genoa, a key economic, export and tourism hub for Italy. “One of the EIB’s main objectives is to invest in infrastructure promoting connectivity and environmental sustainability as tools to strengthen resilience and economic competitiveness and to assert European strategic positioning globally.” The renewal works to the port are believed to be the largest in the port area for over 25 years. 22 Industry Europe

given me [a] greater awareness of others’ emotional wellbeing. My fellow Mental Health First Aiders and I listen and offer guidance on where to get the right support. It can be as simple as offering to have a cuppa and a chat with a colleague - as the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved". MHFA chief executive Simon Blake said Skanska's attempts at dealing with mental health issues among workers is "wonderful", and the adoption levels of training and raising awareness as "impressive". "The training will only create change if people know where to turn if they need support and feel safe and confident doing so. This initiative helps that. I love the simplicity of it and hope that it will be rolled out more widely across the sector", he added. Suicidality has long been an issue within the construction sector, and companies are continuing to implement measures to improve employee wellbeing. Data suggests the suicide rate among construction workers may be three times higher than in other industries. An MFHA report released in 2021 suggests a quarter of construction workers have considered taking their own lives, likely due to stress, as 97% admitted to being stressed at least once a year, with nearly 50% having taken time off work due to mental health concerns. The same report concludes that at least 1,400 workers died by suicide between 2011 and 2015. 91% of respondents recorded feeling "overwhelmed" with work. Visit: www.skanska.co.uk

In addition to reducing the risks of climate-induced flooding, renewal and refurbishment works to the port will allow modern cargo ships to access the port easily, enabling the safe loading and unloading of cargo, and provide the port a strategic advantage for capacity. Work is expected to start later this year and largely be finished in 2024, with the breakwater scheduled for completion by the end of 2026.


CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Vinci cements €4.9bn ACS arm acquisition by Romana Moares

F

rench construction giant Vinci revealed it had completed its €4.9 billion acquisition of Cobra IS, the energy arm of Spanish contractor ACS on December 31. The deal, first announced on 1 April 2021, will see Vinci taking on the majority of the contracting business of the ACS Industrial Services division. Vinci will also take on a number of greenfield concession projects, including six electrical transmission lines, one irrigation plant and one open cycle power plant. This is a major milestone in VINCI’s strategy of creating a major player in engineering, works and services focused on the energy sector, and of developing renewable energy concession projects. Through this strategy, the Group intends to broaden its concession portfolio and extend its average maturity, while contributing to the environmental transition. Vinci expects to benefit from Cobra IS’ expertise in delivering EPC projects in the energy sector, as well as its strength in the energy sector in Latin America, where the majority of its ongoing projects are located. Xavier Huillard, VINCI’s Chairman and CEO, said: "With this strategic deal, we intend not only to build a global leader in engineering, works and services

focused on the energy sector – in which VINCI already has extensive operations – but also, thanks to the long track record expertise that Cobra IS has developed, to accelerate our development in renewable energies, which will help us make a greater contribution to the environmental transition." VINCI and ACS have also finalised a joint venture agreement, providing for the creation of a new entity that will have the right to buy, at market price, renewable energy assets developed, financed, built and connected to the grid by Cobra IS. Visit: www.vinci.com

German construction's "optimistic look ahead" to 2022 by Steven Gislam

T

he German construction sector is anticipated to bring in sales of €151 billion in 2022, up 5.5% on this year, according to figures released by the country’s two largest construction associations. In a joint press conference held online, the presidents of the Central Association of the German Building Industry (ZDB) and Main Association of the German Building Industry (HDB), offered an overview of the sector’s output over the past two years and “an optimistic look ahead” at 2022. Financial figures from the associations indicate that a high order backlog in 2021 means that sales will increase by 5.5% next year, significantly higher

than the €143.5 billion achieved in 2021, which was only 0.5% up on 2020. The growth projection is likely to be led by the strong performance of the country’s residential construction sector, which has remained resilient throughout the pandemic. Reinhard Quast, President of the ZDB, said: "Even in the ‘Corona years’, residential construction will remain a pillar of the construction industry. At the end of September 2021, the order backlog was almost €13 billion, an increase of almost 20% compared to the previous year. The demand for living space is not decreasing." The two associations are predicting 2022 sales from the residential sector to grow by 7% to €59.3 billion - up from €55.4 billion in 2021, while the commercial construction sector is projected to achieve €53.3 billion in sales in 2022. This is a 6% increase on the €50.3 billion the sector brought in this year, which itself was 1% higher than in 2020. "Demand in commercial construction was extremely volatile in 2021 and remains ambivalent in terms of the leading indicators for building permits and incoming orders," the associations said.

The President of the HDB, Peter Hübner, said, "From January to September we saw a strong increase in orders, especially in building construction, but the building permits show a very differentiated picture depending on the type of building." According to the financial report delivered by the associations, "the volume of permits (based on construction costs) for commercial buildings was 14% below the previous year’s level". “The willingness of industry to invest in new factory and workshop buildings as of September has not reached the weak level of the previous year,” said the organisations. “The hotel and catering sector is also showing less propensity to invest due to the corona restriction.” While both the ZDB and HDB said they supported the German Government’s prioritisation of railway investment, Hübner appealed to the federal goverment not to neglect road construction, saying: "E-cars also need roads, and above all they need a sensible charging infrastructure". The associations also highlighted that the increasing expenditure on personnel and social expenses have restricted investments in construction measures by the country’s municipalities. Their current forecasts indicate that construction investments at the municipal level will decline by just under 9% in 2022. Visit: www.zdb.de Industry Europe 23


NEWS

New developments in Construction & Engineering

Starting in 2023, a single consortium will be expected to oversee the Balfour Beatty snags Teesside carbon capture deal construction phase of the project.

by Steven Gislam

U

K construction firm Balfour Beatty and its energy consortium have been selected to enter the 12-month Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) competition for the carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the Net Zero Teesside power plant. The firm will aid in the design and implementation of technical solutions for the 860MW power station and its CCS plant as well as the Northern Endurance Partnership’s high-pressure carbon dioxide compression and export facilities - one of only two consortia given the job by plant owner BP. “Today represents a significant milestone in the decarbonisation of the UK. One that further demonstrates how, together, we are harnessing the spirit of collaboration to help shape the ambitions that will help us tackle the climate change challenge”, said Stephen Tarr, Chief Executive Officer of Balfour Beatty’s Major Projects and Highways business. “Whilst there is inevitably still more to be done, alongside the consortium partners, we are forging a path towards the sustainable infrastructure of the future; putting our foot to the pedal as we work to build back smarter, greener and faster”, he added. The Technip Energies and General Electric Gas Power consortium, which includes other key players such as Shell and is led by Technip Energies, will work alongside the Aker Solutions Doosan Babcock and Siemens Energy consortium on the project.

“Moving to Front End Engineering Design is a major step forward for Net Zero Teesside Power and the development of the Northern Endurance Partnership”, said Louise Kingham, BP’s European vice president. “This first-of-a-kind project has the potential to deliver enough low carbon, flexible electricity to power around 1.3 million homes, and can help secure Teesside’s position at the green heart of the country’s energy transition”. The Teesside plant is gas-fired, which means carbon capture will be required to limit emissions. Founded as a joint venture between oil giant BP and Norwegian energy company Equinor, with plans to store as much as 50% of all UK industrial CO2 emissions - equivalent to 27 million tonnes of carbon dioxide - a year by 2035. It could also supply as many as 25,000 jobs along its value chain, BP claims. It styles itself as a hub for Britain’s energy transition despite not relying on nuclear or renewable energy. “This is the latest milestone in delivering this game-changing facility on Teesside”, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said in a statement. “The project puts our region, our engineers and our scientists at the centre of plans for the UK to be net-zero by 2050 and with it thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs developing the cleaner, safer and healthier industries of the future. “It is also critical for safeguarding the thousands of jobs in our chemicals and processing industries – industries we lead the world in.” Visit: www.balfourbeatty.com

ABB smart energy tech to power Saudi Red Sea tourism by Ash Jones

A

BB has been selected to provide power for an ambitious new “sustainable tourism” project in Saudi Arabia which seeks to turn islands in the Red Sea into luxury accommodation as part of wider conservation and regeneration efforts. Funded by the nation’s Public Investment Fund and operated by The Red Sea Development Company, the Swedish-Swiss engineering company has been chosen to power the project using 100% renewable energy, primarily solar, in the hopes the scheme will encourage tourism to the Saudi Red Sea coast. The energy grid should be up-and-running in time for the resort’s opening, which is currently penned in for 2030. Set up by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in 2017 for the efforts of “preserving the area’s outstanding natural beauty”, the Red Sea project was designed with environmental conservation in mind. Spanning over 28,000 sq km, the project will include the regulation of fisheries, the removal of invasive species, the creation of conservation zones and the expansion of “green” and “blue” 24 Industry Europe

habitats: different forms of sustainable ecosystems, one on land, the other for marine life, typically produced through green infrastructure. The project’s owners also claim it will “protect the environment and the species that call it home, as well as supporting the local communities living in close proximity to the destination”. This is a rare environmental push from one of the largest oil producers in the world - a nation that will not be shifting away from fossil fuels any time soon. ABB will be integrating in smart low-voltage synchronisation panels, supported by a cloud system that merges all functions of energy management into a single dashboard. Integrated digitally, the one system should give operators control over the energy systems of the entire resort. The company claims the system is “smart” and will be able to self-monitor and provide insights to reduce operating costs and overall energy waste. ABB’s Product Marketing Director for Smart Power, Ahmed Waheedeldin suggested the system could “provide real-time visibility of the system’s performance, which will help to minimise

cost and risk while maximising performance and safety across the entire operation”. “We are delighted that ABB has been selected as a trusted partner for this truly innovative project, which will help set new standards for the digitalisation of sustainable power”. The Red Sea Development Company claims 75 of the islands in the archipelago will “remain undeveloped” in a bid to not disturb local wildlife, with 9 being classed as “special conservation zones”. It claims as little as 1% of the land area on the 28,000 sq km site will be built on. Much of the construction is being built using green concrete produced by local developer Al Falah, and much of the heavy manufacturing needed for construction is being handled off-site. Visit: global.abb


CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Carbon capture tech instantly converts CO2 to solid carbon by Ash Jones

R

esearchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia claim to have developed new carbon capture tech that takes carbon dioxide gas and converts it into pure carbon which could see use in helping decarbonise heavy industry. The new tech can be seamlessly integrated with existing infrastructure and could help bring down emissions in hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as cement and steel, which are not only energy-intensive but also heavy emitters, according to the research published in the Energy & Environmental Science journal. Like with all similar tech, the captured CO2 can then be safely stored, effectively keeping it out of the atmosphere - however, it is stored in solid form rather than the conventional liquid form. This could be a useful process should removing emissions from an industrial sector should other options not be available, or it should at least aid in the transition away from more carbon-intensive operations. The captured carbon can then safely be stored, turned into other products or reused in processes such as making cement. The project employs similar chemistry techniques involved in other carbon capture and

storage (CCS) projects, also known as the “bubble column” method which involves liquid metal being heated to around 100-120°C before the CO2 is “injected” into it, resulting in the solution bubbling and separating into solid carbon. Co-lead researcher Associate Professor Torben Daeneke said the work built on an earlier experimental approach that used liquid metals as a catalyst. “Our new method still harnesses the power of liquid metals but the design has been modified for smoother integration into standard industrial processes,” Daeneke said. “As well as being simpler to scale up, the new tech is radically more efficient and can break down CO2 to carbon in an instant. “We hope this could be a significant new tool in the push towards decarbonisation, to help industries and governments deliver on their climate commitments and bring us radically closer to net zero.” This is not the first time tech like this has been developed, but the team claims this new discovery is more efficient than the other variants of this type of carbon capture technology. Since its discovery, a provisional patent has been signed, and the team also secured an

AU$2.6 million (€1.64 million) deal with Aussie company ABR which could potentially see the tech scaled up for industrial use. Dr Ken Chiang, the report’s other co-lead author, said this feedback was also used to identify other potential applications for the technology. “To accelerate the sustainable industrial revolution and the zero-carbon economy, we need smart technical solutions and effective research-industry collaborations”, she added. Most current forms of CCS tech involve sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and burying it underground in liquid form. Many forms of the tech are too rudimentary to deal with carbon challenges on an industrial scale, and there has been criticism that it is too expensive, too energy-intensive and not efficient enough for widespread use. The team’s next stage will be scaling up the tech to around the size of a shipping container as part of its collaboration with ABR. The company is currently planning on using the tech to reduce active carbon emissions in the creation of “next-generation” cement blends. The RMIT team are also considering running tests into using the captured carbon in the construction of other construction materials, such as bricks. Visit: www.rmit.edu.au

3D printer Essentium to go public after major merger by Steven Gislam

T

exas-based 3D printing company Essentium is to become a public company via a merger agreement with special purpose acquisition firm Atlantic Coastal Acquisition Corp. The deal has valued Essentium at $974 million (€858.5 million) and is scheduled to be completed in Q1 2022. The combined company will retain the Essentium name and be listed on the Nasdaq stock market in New York. The merger has already been approved by both companies’ Board of Directors. In a press release, Essentium added that, following the merger, it aims to expand into additive manufacturing processes using metals and “carve out incremental market opportunities” in the nascent sector, which by some estimates have a Total Available Market of $318 billion (€280 billion). Existing Essentium shareholders will roll over 100% of their equity into the newly combined company. The company said that once the transaction is completed, these shareholders are expected to hold approximately 64% of the company. “Fundamental deficits in our existing global supply chain models are being exacerbated by escalating obstacles such as trade imbalances and the global pandemic – all leading to protracted distribution bottlenecks,” said Blake Teipel, Essentium CEO, who will remain in his position.

“Today’s announcement represents a major milestone in our efforts to provide long-term, sustainable solutions for a new manufacturing paradigm that can meet these global challenges head-on.” Founded in 2020, Atlantic Coastal Acquisition Corporation describes itself as a “blank-check company newly formed for the purpose of effecting a merger, share exchange, asset acquisition, stock purchase, recapitalization, reorganization or similar business combination with one or more businesses.” The company also states that while it does not limit itself to any specific industry or geographic region, it aims to have a mobility focus. “We launched Atlantic Coastal with an ESG-centric focus and a mandate to partner with a company that will transform the nature of international commerce, and we believe that Essentium, with its potential to change the global supply chain, is exactly that partner,” said Shahraab Ahmad, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Atlantic Coastal. “Blake and his experienced team have developed a deep technology moat, a product ecosystem validated by the DoD, and a razor/razor-blade model that delivers significant recurring revenue, supporting gross margin expansion and highly attractive unit economics.” Visit: www.essentium.com Industry Europe 25


NEWS

New developments in the Consumer Goods

Global food prices at highest point in a decade - UN by Ash Jones

T

he UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has revealed that 2021 saw food prices spike far higher than in 2020 to their highest point since 2011, increasing by around 28% on the year prior. Driven by uncertain economic conditions and the global pandemic, the organisation has issued a warning that 2022 may not see a return to normalcy. December saw a 0.9% decrease in prices from November but was still up 23.1% in December 2020. Only the dairy industry saw an increase in December, based on the indices tracked by the FAO, which measures monthly changes in prices of commonly-traded food commodities. “While normally high prices are expected to give way to increased production, the high cost of inputs, ongoing global pandemic and ever more uncertain climatic conditions leave little room for optimism about a return to more stable market conditions even in 2022," FAO Senior Economist Abdolreza Abbassian said in a statement. The prices for wheat and maize were driven by concerns over persistent dryness in the southern hemisphere, the FAO claims, with its Cereal index reaching its highest peak since 2012, offset in November - where it saw

a 0.6% decrease - by strong demand and better-than-expected harvests. The price of rice reportedly dropped by 4% year on year. The Omicron variant of the coronavirus possibly had an effect on sugar prices, alongside a weaker Brazilian Real and rising ethanol prices, climbing 29.8% in December. The FAO's Meat index remained relatively stable throughout the year but still managed to climb by around 12% from 2020. Inflation of the US Dollar mixed with uncertain economic conditions has also driven up food prices in North America. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, food prices rose by 5% in the US in November 2020, reaching their highest peak since June 1982. In the UK, food inflation rose by 2.1% in October and has continued to climb since then, exacerbated by both the pandemic and the shortage of delivery drivers. In the EU, food prices continued to shoot up throughout 2021, following a dip in April, but have yet to reach the peaks found at the height of the pandemic. Visit: www.fao.org

BASF to launch "eco-conscious" beauty products by Ash Jones

V

isitors at this year's Cosmet’Agora exhibition will be able to explore German chemicals company BASF concepts for a range of "eco-friendly" beauty products as part of a more sustainable vision for the future of the cosmetics industry. The "Alive Beauty" range consists of skin, hair and sun protection products the company claims are "sustainably and responsibly sourced" for a sense of "wellbeing" in consumers. The formulae themselves have yet to be turned into end products but could represent a sustainable start to the cosmetics value chains. “Sustainability and clean beauty have been reshaping the beauty industry in recent years", Marine Belthé, Marketing Manager at BASF Personal Care Europe said in a statement. "However,

26 Industry Europe

consumers are now also seeking beauty products that offer a broader sense of wellbeing". The line includes "products with improved sensory properties such as touch and fragrance, as well as cosmetics that give consumers more self-confidence", she added, saying that "meeting these expectations can open up exciting opportunities for cosmetics manufacturers – particularly if the products are also based on sustainable and natural ingredients". Products include the Texapon skin powder, which the company claims is completely biodegradable and is made from resources certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and offers a suitable alternative to surfactants containing sulphate or ethylene oxide derivatives. It also reportedly leaves zero waste when washed off. Also part of the line is the COSMOS-approved Hydagen Clean biopolymer obtained from the tuber of the konjac plant native to Southwest China for use in gels, serums and skin patches. The biopolymer design has also been moulded into Sublime Glow Gel Cream formula - likely designed to be an anti-ageing cream set to be unveiled on the first day of the event, which has been enhanced with a fucoidan derived from algae.

Sustainably sourcing products approved by watchdogs could stand to limit ethical concerns associated with the beauty industry, such as carcinogenic qualities or the use of toxic chemicals. Representatives from BASF told Industry Europe that all products are developed and prudced under the EU cosmetics legislation (Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009) of the European Commission for toxic or carcinogenic chemicals. There are a number of ethical challenges facing the cosmetics industry and companies have been looking to shift their image in recent years. Issues faced include the sector's use of child labour, animal testing, microplastics and heavy use of palm oil, which can lead to severe deforestation in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. BASF itself partnered with Estée Lauder and the RSPO to produce sustainable palm oil back in 2019. BASF has committed itself to spur increased production in sustainable palm oil products, supporting the RSPO and pushing for change in the industry. For transparency it regularly publishes reports - the most recent published in July 2021 - to ensure it is meeting these goals. The European Union - particularly member states such as Lithuania and France - have taken a hard stance against palm oil production in a bid to curb deforestation of the world's rainforests. Visit: www.basf.com


CONSUMER GOODS NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS

Nestlé AI-driven plant converts emissions and wastewater into green products by Ash Jones

C

onsumer goods company Nestlé's East and South Africa (ESAR) arm has conducted a pilot using an AI and machine learning-driven plant to convert carbon emissions into green products and recycle industrial wastewater. The pilot was conducted at Nestlé's Babelegi factory in Pretoria, South Africa, in collaboration with The Emissions Capture Company (ECCO) alongside its "WhiteBox" technology, which specifically targets scope 1 carbon emissions, recycled wastewater and converts them into "everyday items" according to its CEO. The WhiteBox converts flue gas emissions into sustainable by-products, which can be sold directly or turned into a wide array of consumer goods products, including animal feed, human food, cosmetic or pharmaceutical products.

The tech can also apparently be used to target and reduce sulphur dioxide emissions which is commonly emitted when burning fossil fuels, still an important aspect of industry in developing nations - without the need for water. Nestlé is planning on scaling up operations to other plants in the region, which could help alleviate any food shortages in the region or stop toxic wastewater from polluting local systems. "We are extremely proud to be pioneering this industry-first technology on the African continent", said Nestlé ESAR Public Affairs Director Saint-Francis Tohlang said in a statement. "This success takes us to the next phase, where we will be looking to scale this operation to other factories to deliver significant reductions in Scope 1 emissions in ESAR". Data collected from the 8,000-hour pilot suggests the WhiteBox may be able to capture anywhere between 25% and 70% of all scope 1 carbon emissions. Much of this is done via direct air capture, low-fuel operations and energy-efficient gas processing. Tohlang also predicts as much as 100,000 cubic metres of wastewater can be recycled per year per

Unilever & Evonik to remove fossil fuels from detergents by Ash Jones

G

erman chemicals firm Evonik has partnered with consumer goods titan Unilever to produce fossil-free cleaning products at its planned new plant in Slovakia. Evonik has invested a multimillion-euro sum into developing fully biodegradable rhamnolipids at the Slovenská Ľupča site, building on a partnership that has been in place for three years. The formula, which was first used by Unilever in Quix hand dishwashing liquid in 2019, will see Evonik attempt to increase its market share in the cleaning products sector. Most surfactants used in cleaning products are derived from petrochemicals and are often carbon-intensive to retrieve and turn into products. The rhamnolipids used in this formula, however, are derived from sugar. Unilever pledged back in September 2020 to use 100% renewable or recyclable resources in the development of its cleaning products by 2030, as much of the world looks to shift away from fossil fuels for more renewable alternatives. "We invest more than €400 million a year in our research and development", says Harald Schwager, Evonik's Chief Innovation Officer.

facility - equating to roughly 100 million litres. "This partnership helps pave the way for a green economy", said Thomas F Darden, ECCO’s CEO. "By design, the shift from legacy technologies to low carbon emission processes also improves livelihoods through employment creation, training, and upskilling". Nestlé has long been under fire for its actions in the developing world in recent decades, which has led to a slew of controversies levied at the company, from manipulating markets and exploiting poor communities with its baby formulas, to becoming one of the world's largest plastic polluters, which has come alongside its status as the world's largest bottled water company. It has also been embroiled in lawsuits over its alleged use of child slavery in Africa. An internal presentation earlier this year also revealed the company found that at least 60% of its products were "unhealthy". The company has, however, pledged to tackle the growing issue of plastic pollution and even revealed its plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050 back in 2019. Visit: www.nestle.com

"The journey of rhamnolipids from the initial idea to the finished product has been long, but it is worth it. This partnership with Unilever is a result of our expertise in biotechnology". The sugar used in the production of rhamnolipids is fermented, and its creation renders the fats and oils derived from petrochemicals obsolete. It is also biodegradable, making it a more sustainable alternative in the long term. The use of rhamnolipids can also be extended beyond cleaning products and could be utilised in the cosmetics industry. "We want to make sustainability easy for everyone that uses our products", said Peter Dekker, Unilever's Vice President for Middle Europe. "[Our] partnership with Evonik helps move our brands away from fossil fuels without compromising on performance or affordability". Visit: corporate.evonik.com

Industry Europe 27


NEWS

New developments in Energy & Utilities

EU unveils plans for new energy framework to decarbonise gas market by Steven Gislam

T

he European Commission has unveiled a new raft of legislative proposals which aim to decarbonise the EU gas market by facilitating the adoption of renewable and low carbon gases, including hydrogen. The EU executive also put forward a proposal to cut methane emissions in the European energy sector and the global supply chain. In July, the Commission unveiled its "Fit for 55" package, which aims to decarbonise the energy it consumes to reduce its overall greenhouse gases emissions by 55% by 2030 to become climate-neutral by 2050, and says that these proposals will help reach that goal. "Europe needs to turn the page on fossil fuels and move to cleaner energy sources. This includes replacing fossil gas with renewable and low carbon gases, like hydrogen," said EC vice president for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans. "Today, we are proposing the rules to enable this transition and build the necessary markets, networks and infrastructure. To address methane emissions, we are also proposing a solid legal framework to better track and reduce this powerful greenhouse gas, helping us to fulfil the Global Methane Pledge and tackle the climate crisis." The Commission says the proposals, which are both regulation and directive, create the conditions for a transition from fossil natural gas to renewable and low-carbon gases, in particular hydrogen and biomethane. One of its main aims is to establish a hydrogen market, by creating the right investment conditions, and enabling the development of

a dedicated infrastructure, including for trade with third countries. The market rules will be applied in two phases, before and after 2030, and notably cover access to hydrogen infrastructures, separation of hydrogen production and transport activities, and tariff setting. A new governance structure in the form of the European Network of Network Operators for Hydrogen (ENNOH) will be created to promote a dedicated hydrogen infrastructure, cross-border coordination and interconnector network construction, and elaborate on specific technical rules. The EU executive also proposed that long-term contracts for unabated fossil natural gas should not be extended beyond 2049 to avoid locking Europe in with fossil natural gas and to make more space for clean gases in the European gas market. The proposals also include consumer empowerment, with consumers able to switch suppliers more easily using price comparison tools to get fair and accurate billing information and have improved access to data and new smart technology. Addressing the current record-high energy prices, the proposals look to improve the resilience of the gas system and strengthen the existing security of supplies. There is also an extension to current rules to renewables and low carbon gases and new provisions to cover emerging cybersecurity risks. A more strategic approach to gas storage is also included, which aim to include storage options and considerations into regional level risk assessment. On tackling methane emissions, the proposed legislation would require the oil, gas and coal sectors to measure, report and verify methane emissions, and proposes strict rules to detect and repair methane leaks and to limit the practices

of venting and flaring. It also puts forward global monitoring tools ensuring transparency of methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal into the EU, which will allow the Commission to consider further actions in the future. A new EU legal framework is also proposed, to ensure higher standards of measurement, reporting, and verification of methane emissions. The new rules would require companies to measure and quantify their asset-level methane emissions at source and carry out comprehensive surveys to detect and repair methane leaks in their operations. In terms of the methane emissions of the bloc's energy imports, the proposals include a requirement for fossil fuel importers to submit information about how their suppliers perform, such as emissions measurement, reporting and verification and in what ways those emissions are mitigated. Two transparency tools will also be created as part of the proposed legislation to make public the performance and reduction efforts of countries and energy firms across the world in terms of methane emissions. The first of these tools is a transparency database where the data reported by importers and EU operators will be made available to the public. The second is a global monitoring tool to show methane emitting hot-spots inside and outside the EU, using environmental monitoring satellites. On top of the new proposals, the Commission says it will be looking to engage in a "diplomatic dialogue" with its international partners to tackle emissions along the European supply chain. The methane regulation will also be reviewed in 2025 to bring in more stringent measures on the import of fossil fuels.

Key moment as first "Made in EU" li-ion battery produced by Steven Gislam

B

attery maker Northvolt has produced the first-ever fully European designed, developed and assembled lithium-ion battery cell at its facility in Västerås, northern Sweden. The news is an important milestone for the company and the EU, one which the company described as "marking a new chapter in European industrial history". Northvolt said the prismatic cell left the assembly line on December 28 and that commissioning and upscaling of the gigafactory will continue through into 2022, when the first commercial customer deliveries will be made. Peter Carlsson, CEO and Co-Founder of Northvolt, said: "Today is a great milestone for Northvolt which the team has worked very hard to 28 Industry Europe

achieve. Of course, this first cell is only the beginning. Over the course of the coming years, we look forward to Northvolt Ett expanding its production capacity greatly to enable the European transition to clean energy." The company is aiming to increase production over the coming years towards its 60 GWh annual goal, which would fulfil more than $30 billion (€26.5 billion) worth of contracts that Northvolt has signed with its customers, which include Scania, Volkswagen, BMW, Polestar and Fluence. The announcement will have been welcomed in Brussels, which has been attempting to create a battery value chain across the bloc since 2017 when it launched the European Battery Alliance (EBA). The EBA's purpose is to aid the EU's transition to clean energy without relying too heavily on third countries. Visit: northvolt.com


ENERGY & UTILITIES NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS

Japan to demonstrate space solar power by 2025 by Steven Gislam

T

okyo-based Japan Space Systems has announced that by 2025 it will demonstrate a space solar power system that uses a satellite to collect energy from the sun and send it back to Earth. If it goes ahead, it would be the first-ever technical demonstration of solar power generated in space and transmitted to Earth. The technology could have the potential to ultimately provide limitless clean energy and play an important part in helping society wean itself off fossil fuels. "Space solar power has the potential to deliver enormous quantities of clean, carbon-free energy to the people of Earth every day, 365 days a year," said Dale Skran, COO of the US-based non-profit, National Space Society. “No new understanding of physics is needed, but we need to be spending money now to bring SSP to reality so that it can live up to its promise,” he added. The UK has also developed a proposal for its own operational space solar satellite by 2040. The UK plan states: "Space-Based Solar Power is a renewable technology which provides continuous baseload power and could be

available at large scale. It warrants further exploration as it could offer new options and contribute to the Net Zero pathways." The plan also points out that the new technology is technically feasible, environmentally sound and affordable. John C Mankins, a former NASA engineer and internationally recognised space expert, said: "Traditionally, space solar power has been seen as technically feasible but not economically competitive with other forms of electricity production. However, advances in robotics are expected to make construction and operation of large space systems much less expensive than using spacewalking astronauts, and a generation of large, low cost, reusable launch vehicles such as SpaceX’s Starship are fast approaching orbital flight status. "Modular designs consisting of millions of pizza-box-sized, self-assembling ‘sandwich panels’ with solar cells on one side and transmitters on the other will bring economies of scale, making space solar power much more affordable than ever before." The Japanese plan comes after decades of studying the idea's potential. If the demonstration works, it could have a huge impact on the energy industry over the coming years. Visit: www.jspacesystems.or.jp

Europe is exceeding its renewable energy targets by Steven Gislam

R

enewable energy in Europe has more than doubled since 2004, while taking up a larger percentage of the electricity mix year-on-year, according to the latest report from the EU's own stats office Eurostat. Electricity generation through renewable sources accounted for a 37% share in 2020, up from 34% in 2019 and represented 22% of the total energy consumed in the bloc - shooting past the 2020 target of 20%, hinting the EU is surpassing its targets and is on its way to becoming net-zero by 2050. Wind and hydropower accounted for twothirds of renewable generation in 2020 with a 36% and 33% share, respectively, followed by biofuels and solar energy with 8% and 14%. Eurostat claims solar is currently the fastest growing method for generation on the

continent. In 2008 it only accounted for 1% of the energy mix. The share of energy from renewable sources used in transport activities in the EU reached 10.2 % in 2020. In April 2021, EU leaders enshrined the bloc's net-zero targets into law. It has also announced the "Fit for 55" package to help slash greenhouse gas emissions. This graph shows the energy mix for renewable energy - renewables accounted for 37% of the total energy mix for 2020. Data supplied by Eurostat. Among the EU Member States, more than 70% of electricity consumed in 2020 was generated from renewable sources in Austria (78%) and Sweden (75%). The generation of electricity from renewable sources was also high and accounted for more than half of the electricity consumed in Denmark (65%), Portugal (58%), Croatia and Latvia (both 53%). On the other end of the spectrum, less than 10% of electricity generation was done through renewables in Malta (9.5%) and a little more in Hungary and Cyprus (both 12%). In terms of raw renewable energy consumption, another data set from Eurostat shows several countries exceeding their renewable energy targets. Norway, Iceland and Sweden all overachieved on their energy mixes by a significant margin,

while the data set hints that only France did not reach its goals, being 3.9% under target. In total, 26 countries exceeded their targets in some form, while the Netherlands and Belgium are meeting but not exceeding their energy mix targets. However, Greece's data is only provisional and is therefore subject to change, while Poland's was underestimated due to an increased role for biomass in its energy mix. The coronavirus pandemic saw a slump in fossil fuel demand across the world, but the end of lockdowns saw consumption levels exceed normal levels, putting a dampener on environmental hopes coming out of the crisis. However, a number of countries have started to pledge net-zero goals in line with expectations both before and after the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

Renewables accounted for 37% of the total energy mix for 2020. Data supplied by Eurostat.

Industry Europe 29


NEWS

New developments in Energy & Utilities

Veolia Carbon Clean announces carbon capture milestone by Romana Moares

T

he Veolia Carbon Clean joint venture is celebrating its first carbon capture project milestone in India and unveils a new corporate identity. Veolia Carbon Clean - a joint venture between Carbon Clean, a company specialising in cost-effective carbon capture solutions, and Veolia, a major player in optimised resource management - is celebrating its first project milestone and revealing a new corporate identity. The joint venture is committed to reducing industrial carbon dioxide emissions and helping India achieve its climate goals through the development of a series of carbon capture and compressed biogas (CBG) projects. The joint venture’s first project milestone is a two-year contract with Tata Steel for the operation and maintenance of the first carbon capture plant for a blast furnace in India. The Jamshedpur steel plant is capturing 5 tonnes of CO2 per day directly from the blast furnace gas and making

it available for onsite reuse in a variety of applications. The depleted CO2 gas is then sent back to the gas network with an increased calorific value. Preet Brar, CEO and Country Director, Veolia India, commented: “This project is a significant mark of Veolia’s commitment towards combating climate change. It will bring great opportunities for Veolia Carbon Clean in implementing decarbonisation solutions”. “Carbon Clean is a global leader in carbon capture technology and has extensive experience in supporting companies to achieve net zero targets. Veolia has been working towards changing patterns of production and consumption by placing ecology at the heart of every process and assessment. Through this partnership we are building a model that will support our industrial partners to accelerate their transition to a low carbon economy”. Visit: www.carbonclean.com

Germany shuts down 3 of 6 nuclear plants despite energy crisis by Steven Gislam

G

ermany has closed three of its remaining six nuclear power stations in line with its plans to phase out nuclear energy by the end of the year, in a move widely expected to lead to an increase in the short-term use of fossil fuels as Europe deals with an ongoing energy crisis and soaring natural gas prices. Operations ended at plants in Brokdorf in Schleswig-Holstein, Grohnde in Lower Saxony and Gundremmingen Unit C in Bavaria, leaving three nuclear plants left in Germany. It is estimated that the decommissioning process will take up to 20 years and cost €1.1 billion per plant. All three plants were brought online in the mid-1980s. The decision to phase out nuclear power was made in 2011 by Angela Merkel’s administration in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown in Japan. An earthquake and tsunami destroyed the coastal plant causing the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. The nuclear plant in Brokdorf, a small village around 40 km northwest of Hamburg on the river Elbe, was the first in the world to go online after the disaster in Chernobyl. Following the

30 Industry Europe

disaster, Germany saw increased radiation levels in soil and foods across the country and Brokdorf was soon filled with protesters numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Since then, the power plant has seen monthly demonstrations by environmentalists who vowed in 1986 to continue until it was shut down. After 35 years, the activists held their 425th and final vigil last month with local pastor and co-founder of the initiative, Hans-Günter Werner saying that when they began they “didn’t expect to stand here for so long”. The three remaining plants - in Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Baden-Württemberg - are scheduled for closure by the end of 2022 and will mark the end of domestic nuclear power production in Germany. Their closure will cut German energy output by around 4 GW - around the same as 1,000 wind turbines. While Germany has traditionally been wary of nuclear power, there are signs that public opinion is softening on the issue, though the new government in Berlin shows no signs of changing tack. A recent survey by YouGov for the Welt am Sonntag newspaper found that half of Germans were in favour of reversing the nuclear phase-out policy as a result of the recent spike in energy prices. One member of the German Council of Economic Experts, Monika Schnitzer, was quoted in the Rheinische Post as saying it would make “economic and ecological” sense to delay the shutdown. Nonetheless, the country’s Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck of the Green

Party said he saw no weakening of the anti-nuclear consensus and that the end of nuclear is part of Berlin’s Energiewende (energy transition) policy. While Germany has been phasing out nuclear energy, several other countries, including France, Russia, India, China, the US and the UK, continue to rely on nuclear with several new reactors either under construction or in the planning stages. The three nuclear closures have come at a difficult time. By December 2021, the price of energy in Europe had skyrocketed to ten times that of the start of the year. This price hike has been fuelled by geopolitical tensions between the EU and Russia, which supplies roughly onethird of Europe’s natural gas. Moscow has been accused of limiting gas deliveries to pile pressure onto Brussels over the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. While the pipeline was completed last year, it is yet to receive official certification. Once underway, Russia would then be able to supply even more gas to Germany and the EU, something which critics say could be used as a weapon by Moscow. The list was released on December 31 and included nuclear energy “as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future”, a move which sparked a backlash by environmental groups and was labelled by Germany and some other EU states as ‘greenwashing’. A group of official experts has until January 12 to provide a formal response to the draft proposal and the Commission says it hopes to adopt a final text by the end of the month.


ENERGY & UTILITIES NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS GIG, TotalEnergies consortium to build 2GW Orkney wind farm

S

cotland’s offshore wind capacity could see a major boost as a consortium of energy companies unveils a plan to build a 2GW wind farm 30km from the Orkney coast. The Green Investment Group (GIG) operates a nearly 50% stake in the £4 billion (€4.78 billion) venture, with other major shareholders being French oil and gas giant TotalEnergies and Scottish developer RIDG, which could start producing renewable energy by 2030. The project will also tap into a £140 million investment to aid in the development of local ports and harbour infrastructure on the Orkney Isles and the town of Caithness on the mainland as part of plans to bolster local renewable energy supply chains. The forms part of a larger series of 17 projects selected by the Scottish Crown Estate totalling nearly 25GW of capacity, including projects gifted to other oil and gas titans such as Shell and bp. The teams report that extensive research has been done for the local area to ensure the new farm helps meet local sustainability targets. The consortium also claims to have come to an agreement with the National Grid to ensure the electricity generated is connected to the British energy grid.

It could also secure a connection to the Flotta Hydrogen Hub, a proposed multibillion-pound green hydrogen production facility in Orkney. TotalEnergies’ CEO Patrick Pouyanné claims this is the company’s largest renewable energy project to date. As an oil and gas giant, it already has several fossil fuel projects in Scotland, which contains a wealth of the UK’s oil reserves, while also controlling several smaller renewables hubs. “We will provide all our resources from our new UK Offshore Wind Hub in Aberdeen, which will draw on the expertise and supply chain of our oil and gas activities and Scottish industry, all in close collaboration with the local communities”, he said in a statement. This marks the fourth major windfarm TotalEnergies has invested in since the start of 2020, with a planned capacity of around 5GW.

Mark Dooley, the global head for GIG, who has long been a major investor in the Scottish energy market, said: “We believe this option agreement will be truly transformational for the wider Scottish economy, unlocking new ways to accelerate the transition to net-zero and creating hundreds of new jobs. We look forward to working with our stakeholders and all the winning bidders to seize this new opportunity for Scotland.” The company currently has stakes in over 30 offshore wind projects in Scotland, and claims to be involved in at least half of all the UK’s wind projects. Projects such as this could significantly bolster Scotland’s economic capabilities as an energy powerhouse for the UK. In December 2017, the Scottish government set a goal to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources, and hopes to have decarbonised most industries by 2050. This includes investment into both onshore and offshore wind projects, the construction of low-carbon infrastructure and even testing the feasibility of geothermal energy. Visit: www.greeninvestmentgroup.com

Thyssenkrupp to install green hydrogen facility in Rotterdam by Steven Gislam

G

erman electrolysis specialist ThyssenKrupp has signed a supply contract with Shell for the ‘Holland Hydrogen I’ project in the port of Rotterdam. Under the contract, ThyssenKrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers will engineer, procure and fabricate a 200-MW electrolysis plant based on its large-scale 20 MW alkaline water electrolysis module. The first construction work for the electrolysers will likely begin in Spring 2022. Shell’s final investment decision to build the ‘Holland Hydrogen I’ is expected in 2022, after which the intended start of production will be in 2024. “We are looking forward to support building a major hydrogen hub in central Europe and to contribute to Europe’s transition to green energy”, said Christoph Noeres, head of Green Hydrogen at ThyssenKrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers. “With our large-scale standard module size, we will further strengthen Shell’s hydrogen strategy. Our partnership perfectly combines our engineering excellence with Shell’s competence of a large global energy player.” The centre of the “Hydrogen Holland I” hydrogen project facility will be a hall, covering 2 hectares, the size of three football fields. Green hydrogen will be produced for industry and the transport sector, with electricity coming from offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust (Noord), by means of guarantees of origin.

The hydrogen can be transported through a pipeline with a length of about 40 km that will run from the plant to Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam. Net-zero is a number one priority for the plant: Reusable construction materials will be applied wherever possible and solar panels will be incorporated in the outside walls of the plant. The factory will be open to selected visitors once fully operational. Visit: www.thyssenkrupp.com www.shell.com Industry Europe 31


NEWS

New developments in Healthcare

This robot performed surgery on a pig without human aid by Ash Jones

A

medical robot has performed laparoscopic surgery on pig tissue without the need for human intervention, marking a breakthrough in the field of autonomous robotics in healthcare. Designed by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR)'s groundbreaking new process was laid out in the Science Robotics Journal on January 28. More specifically, the robot performed a surgical technique known as intestinal anastomosis, a procedure known for being highly repetitive and needing peerless precision which involves allowing passage between two formerly disjointed parts of the intestine, usually due to a bowel condition or blockage. It is often considered one of the most difficult to perform surgeries in the field. Even the slightest error can cause a tear or leak, with potentially catastrophic results. "Our findings show that we can automate one of the most intricate and delicate tasks in surgery: the reconnection of two ends of an intestine", said senior author Axel Krieger, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins' Whiting School of Engineering. "The STAR performed the procedure in four animals and it produced significantly better results than humans performing the same procedure". For the project, the team worked alongside the Children's National Hospital in Washington DC and other scientists at the university to perfect the design for suturing soft tissue. It was based on an earlier 2016 design

that performed a surgery that successfully repaired a pig's intestines. The team equipped STAR with new features for enhanced autonomy and improved surgical precision, including specialised surgical tools and high tech interfaces that provide a more detailed picture of the surgical field. The team reports that soft tissue surgery is often difficult for robots due to unpredictability - perhaps due to the increased precision required with less overall or softer matter - which requires adaptability and lightning reflexes to handle unexpected obstacles. The authors claim it is the first robotic system to plan, adapt, and execute a surgical plan in soft tissue with minimal human intervention. Jin Kang, a Johns Hopkins professor of electrical and computer engineering, who helped design the STAR system, said: "We believe an advanced three-dimensional machine vision system is essential in making intelligent surgical robots smarter and safer". He added that a light-based 3D endoscope and a machine learningbased tracking algorithm helps guide the STAR during the surgery. "Robotic anastomosis is one way to ensure that surgical tasks that require high precision and repeatability can be performed with more accuracy and precision in every patient independent of surgeon skill", Krieger said. "We hypothesize that this will result in a democratized surgical approach to patient care with more predictable and consistent patient outcomes".

How a manmade crystal could be used to treat cancer by Ash Jones

A

new synthetic crystal that attaches to the skin and deposits "supercharged" medicine antibodies could help treat diseases with increased precision and accuracy. Researchers at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases at Monash University in collaboration with the TU Graz in Austria claim to have developed the world's first metal-organic framework (MOF) for antibody distribution to enable faster treatment of cancers, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Traditionally made from a mix of organic and inorganic materials: in this case, zinc and carbonate ions and a tiny imidazole molecule, MOFs often take on crystalline shapes. Designed to be porous, they are traditionally used to store gases, but the researchers hope the same methods can be used to store and deploy medicine. Published in the Advanced Minerals journal, the study suggests that when MOF antibody crystals bind to their target cancer cells and if exposed to the low pH in the cells, they break 32 Industry Europe

down, delivering the drugs directly and solely to the desired area, which could help push MOF use within the healthcare sector - something which has only been speculated at before. The team hopes this could allow for more specialised treatment with more customised drugs and more specific doses. "While new funding is needed to take the research into the next phase and to patients, the new method is cheaper, faster and more versatile than anything available currently", said Professor Christoph Hagemeyer, Head of the Nanobiotechnology Laboratory at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases, Monash University and the co-author of the study. “It offers the opportunity to personalise treatment and given the precision possible, may eventually change the current dosage needed for patients, resulting in fewer side effects and making treatments cheaper", he added. MOFs often offer more structural diversity when compared to other porous materials, with the main key point being uniformity in its pores, while also

allowing for consistent designs down to the atomic level. This is important during scientific testing to allow for easy replication of results. The report's other co-author, Dr Karen Alt suggests that, given time, the treatment could be more effective than chemotherapy owing to the MOF's increased precision. “With over 80 different monoclonal antibodies approved for clinical use, this approach has enormous potential to improve these antibodies for the targeted delivery of diagnostic agents and therapeutic drugs. The goal is that ultimately the clinical translation of this technology will improve the quality of life for patients suffering from serious diseases", she added. For info, visit: www.monash.edu


HEALTHCARE NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Quantum tech could be used to detect dementia symptoms by Ash Jones

N

ew highly-sensitive quantum sensors in the brain may be able to detect symptoms for diseases such as dementia, ALS or Parkinson's, according to research published by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) and the University of Sussex. The findings, which were detailed in the Scientific Reports journal on November 19, suggest the non-intrusive magnetoencephalography (MEG) scanners being developed by the scientists may be able to detect the magnetic fields generated during brain activity, which could be used to track neurodegenerative diseases, potentially leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment. The scanners track moment-to-moment changes in the brain, which could allow for regular check-ups to conclude whether or not brain activity is slowing down, a common symptom of diseases such as dementia. “We’ve shown for the first time that quantum sensors can produce highly accurate results in terms of both space and time," the paper's lead author Aikaterini Gialopsou, a doctoral researcher at BSMS and the School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex, said. "While

other teams have shown the benefits in terms of locating signals in the brain, this is the first time that quantum sensors have proved to be so accurate in terms of the timing of signals too." "This could be really significant for doctors and patients concerned with the development of brain disorders," he added. Dementia continues to be among the largest killers in the UK, often climbing year on year, according to a 2018 report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). However, a more recent report suggests deaths have dropped slightly in 2020. The World Health Organisation (WHO) claims more than 55 million people worldwide live with dementia and finding a way to properly treat the disease represents one of the most pressing medical challenges of our time. Parkinson's disease does not directly kill people, but it can lead to nasty falls or bouts of pneumonia, which can often lead to death in older or more vulnerable people. The team claims these quantum scanners are "more effective" than either EEG or fMRI scanners "due in part to the fact that the sensors can get closer to the skull," the report states. The closer proximity can reportedly lead to faster results across larger sections of the brain.

Experimental HIV vaccine shows promise in animal tests by Ash Jones

A

n experimental mRNA HIV vaccine - the same platform used for the Covid-19 jabs - has shown promise during preliminary animal tests, according to researchers at the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Initial data shows the vaccine had the desired antibody effect against an HIV-like virus when performed on a rhesus monkey, which received an initial primer shot followed by multiple booster shots, with a reported 79% lower per-exposure risk of infection by simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) compared to unvaccinated animals. SHIV is used because non-human primates cannot contract HIV-1, the most widespread strain of the virus. The results were published in Nature Medicine journal, with the tests being overseen by Moderna, one of the companies responsible for mRNA coronavirus vaccines. “Despite nearly four decades of effort by the global research community, an effective vaccine to prevent HIV remains an elusive goal", NIAID director Anthony Fauci said. “This experimental mRNA vaccine combines several features that may overcome shortcomings of other experimental HIV vaccines and thus represents a promising approach".

“It’s the quantum technology which makes these sensors so accurate”, said Professor Peter Kruger, a lecturer at Sussex University, who oversees the Quantum Systems and Devices lab. He added: “The sensors contain a gas of rubidium atoms. Beams of laser light are shone at the atoms, and when the atoms experience changes in a magnetic field, they emit light differently. Fluctuations in the emitted light reveal changes in the magnetic activity in the brain. The quantum sensors are accurate within milliseconds and within several millimetres." The research states the MEG scanners passively probe brain activity, rather than relying on sending a signal to the brain and recording the result, as is seen with many contemporary brain scans. However, they admit they are currently difficult to operate in clinical trials, owing to them being bulky and expensive. Gialopsou revealed she hopes this could inspire a "quantum revolution" in neuroscience which could lead to further developments. "This matters because, although the scanners are in their infancy, there are implications for future developments that could lead to crucial early diagnosis of brain diseases, such as ALS, MS and even Alzheimer's," she said. "That’s what motivates us as a team," she concluded. Visit: www.bsms.ac.uk

The new vaccine works in a similar way to the Covid-19 vaccines, with it carrying coded information to two HIV proteins, as opposed to the coronavirus spike protein which allows the vaccine to condition immune response. The vaccine also simulated the same response in trials with mice, which were the initial subject of the trials, the NIAID stated. “The display of multiple copies of authentic HIV envelope protein on each VLP is one of the special features of our platform that closely mimics natural infection and may have played a role in eliciting the desired immune responses,” said Paulo Lusso, who led the trial. The investigators used multiple virus variants in order to "preferentially activate" antibodies against different regions of the proteins. The researchers report that by week 58, most of the vaccinated monkeys "had developed measurable levels of neutralizing antibodies" against at least 12 strains of the virus. From week 60 onwards, both the vaccinated and control groups were exposed to SHIV. “We are now refining our vaccine protocol to improve the quality and quantity of the VLPs produced. This may further increase vaccine efficacy and thus lower the number of prime and boost inoculations needed to produce a robust immune response. If confirmed safe and effective, we plan to conduct a Phase 1 trial of this vaccine platform in healthy adult volunteers,” Dr Lusso concluded. For more info, visit: www.niaid.nih.gov Industry Europe 33


NEWS

New developments in Healthcare

Scientists may have found a way to replicate bone development by Ash Jones

A

team of researchers at the universities of Linköping in Sweden and Okayama in Japan claim to have invented a material that can morph into various shapes before hardening that mimics early bone development in humans. Created using the same materials found in a human skeleton, the material starts soft before reaching the required density, and mimics the process by which bones such as the skull starts out relatively deformable to allow for birth before eventual hardening. “We want to use this for applications where materials need to have different properties at different points in time”, said Edwin Jager, associate

professor at the Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology (IFM) at Linköping University. “Firstly, the material is soft and flexible, and it is then locked into place when it hardens. This material could be used in, for example, complicated bone fractures. It could also be used in microrobots – these soft microrobots could be injected into the body through a thin syringe, and then they would unfold and develop their own rigid bones”, he added. The idea developed following a meeting with researchers in Japan studying bone development, who discovered a biomolecule that could stimulate bone growth over a short period of time. This led to the creation of a simple microbot that could form different shapes and harden to replicate a bone. They started with a gel material called alginate. On one side of this a polymer is grown, which becomes electroactive and changes volume when a small voltage is applied, causing the microrobot to bend in a specified direction. On the other side of the gel, researchers attached biomolecules that allow the material to harden and when exposed to similar conditions to the human body, the material can harden like bone.

Take a look at the world’s first quarantine coach by Ash Jones

A

coach belonging to the Italian Red Cross has become the world’s first quarantine vehicle, reportedly capable of carrying up to 41 infectious passengers plus crew to care facilities within restricted areas such as airports. Supplied by Italian bus and coach manufacturer Iveco, the coach has been used for urgent medical transport missions in the Calabria region. A pressurised compartment surrounded by an “air envelope” prevents pathogens and air from escaping, unless it is filtered. The bus could come in handy for transporting large amounts of patients to hospitals or care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, while also offering a blueprint of safely transporting passengers in future public health crises. The crew can monitor the pressure in the chamber, carbon dioxide saturation, temperature, and state of the filters using an integrated digital interface. At 12-metres long, the coach is roughly the size of the average transport coach, but the extra facilities mean it can hold fewer people than other similar vehicles. In addition to the passengers, the coach has facilities to support around six care crew. The coach is fitted with a hydraulic wheelchair lift and comes equipped with other quality of life additions to maximise the comfort of patients, including air conditioning, night lighting, audio diffusion, tinted windows, and toilets. 34 Industry Europe

The researchers have suggested this new technology for areas such as bone healing, as the bot could manoeuvre its way into fractures and the hardened material could form the bases for new growth, which could reduce the time and pain of bone healing - as tested on chicken bones in trials. By making patterns in the gel, the material can almost control the motion of the bot and the patterns it will make in the bone when the voltage is applied. “By controlling how the material turns, we can make the microrobot move in different ways, and also affect how the material unfurls in broken bones”, Jager added. “We can embed these movements into the material’s structure, making complex programmes for steering these robots unnecessary”. The team is currently looking into how the tech can work alongside living cells in order to study the biocompatibility of the material. Should its hitches be ironed out, this could offer a significant medical breakthrough in bone healing and development. Learn more at: https://liu.se/en

The company also claims the upholstery and interior have been covered with easily washable materials to ensure effective sanitisation. “We are very proud that the Italian Red Cross has chosen one of the Iveco Bus flagship vehicles to create this special vehicle, the first in the world”, Domenico Nucera, President, Bus Business Unit of Iveco Group said. “At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread through its variants, we are confident that this high-biocontainment vehicle will make an important contribution to reducing the risk of contamination, ensuring the safe transport of many patients”. Visit: www.ifrc.org


HEALTHCARE NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS

Biotech robot could speed up diagnosis of Covid-19 by Ash Jones

The Agamede robot in action.

A

new robotic system designed by the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences, alongside Mitsubishi Electric, Labomatica and Perlan Technologies claims to be able to speed up the diagnosis of Covid-19. Reportedly capable of testing as many as 15,000 samples daily, the machine uses a mix of new automation technologies with AI, which could see use in other healthcare sectors, such as gathering data for the creation of new drugs or developing bespoke cancer therapies or even creating cosmetics. Dubbed “Agamede”, the robot runs on a closed-loop system, meaning it can set variables and operate without the need for human intervention. Work on the project commenced in 2015 and it was originally envisioned to work with cellular reprogramming and regenerative medicines. Operators simply need to define a parameter for work, then the robot can prepare the experiment, read the results at a specified time and interpret data 24 hours a day to discern the next course of action. The institute described the merger of automation and AI as a “breakthrough” for the healthcare sector, as many automated systems still require human operators to read results and plan ahead. Increased autonomy and more efficient processing could significantly speed up the diagnosis of diseases and potentially allow for significantly more cases to be flagged each day. At the very least, it would bring results back to patients in a more timely manner. “Thanks to the AI module, [the robot] interprets the experiments without human involvement, based on mathematical models”, said Radosław Pilarski, the inventor and chief engineer of the system. “The system can be used by central diagnostic laboratories, pharmaceutical companies in drug development, oncology laboratories in search

The entire lab, containing Agamede and observation stations.

of personalised therapies for patients, but also in R&D departments of chemical and biotechnology companies to optimise bioprocesses”. Despite its origins in regenerative medicine, particularly looking to implant cells into hearts following cardiovascular problems, Agamede’s focus was shifted firmly to aiding with the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. The Institute’s director, Professor Marek Figlerowicz claims theirs was the first in Poland to develop a test for the coronavirus and soon decided to utilise Agamede’s automation capabilities to more efficiently conduct and read tests. 15,000 tests per day are the robot’s “true potential”, he added, owing to the IBCH not having an accredited diagnostic laboratory. “This is an outstanding result, because when analysing samples manually, one person can process a few hundred samples a day at the most”, he concluded. Mitsubishi claims that one of the project’s biggest challenges came as a result of it being spread over a number of academic fields such as computer science, industrial design, robotics, among others, which made defining and ultimately reaching a goal more difficult. This was ultimately achieved by finding a common “technical language” that allowed experts from different fields, such as computer science, industrial design, and robotics to communicate on the same level and make expectations clear. “It was often difficult to bridge the gap between the academic world, which thinks in abstract terms, and the industrial world, which typically follows a fixed pattern”, according to Mitsubishi engineer Tomasz Scholz. The robot is installed in a clean room with glass panes installed to allow for observation without the need for protective suits. The installing of 4K resolution cameras also facilitates a degree of remote working for observers. Visit: www.ibch.poznan.pl Industry Europe 35


NEWS

New developments in Metals & Mining

Mining industry leaders highlight underexplored "super" region by Steven Gislam

A

s Saudi Arabia prepares to host the Future Mineral Summit, one of the most important events of the year for the mining sector, several industry leaders have come forward to discuss some of the opportunities for the sector ahead of the event. One of the largest opportunities reportedly lies with an under-explored mining "super region" that lays between Africa and Asia - the Africa-Nubian shield which has reportedly become a hotbed for new mining projects. "The Shield is rapidly becoming a major mineral province hosting worldclass mining projects", Brian Hosking, the CEO of the Gold & Minerals company said in a statement. "This region, along with the Tethyan-Eurasian mineral belt (between Eastern Europe and Iran), is now well-recognised as having the potential to meet a large share of the world's growing demand for metals and minerals. We believe events like the Future Minerals Forum will bring much-needed focus to the importance and vast potential of the Eurasian and Northern African regions as a whole." Perhaps the biggest interest for mining developments in the Shield is the prevalence of gold deposits, which spurred development in countries that lay on the formation, such as Egypt. The mining sector may be one of the sectors that suffered the most during 2021. A string of lawsuits involving major players like Rio Tinto, criticism over sustainability targets and supply chain woes - including semiconductor manufacturers choosing to attempt to shift away from conflict minerals such as Cobalt - have left the sector in a fairly precarious position. Mining is currently responsible for between 4 and 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and many of the largest companies have set net-zero targets, but many have yet to begin working towards them. However, the mining industry remains steadfast that metals will be

required in the energy transition, to aid in the creation of technologies that will help decarbonise industry. "The world's energy transition will require billions in investments in new metal and mineral production", Warren Irwin, the President of Rosseau Asset Management said. "The Forum offers a much-needed meeting point for producers and investors to find mutually beneficial ways of developing the vast untapped mineral wealth of emerging economies across Asia, Africa and the Middle East." Some talk of the "diversification of supply" that will be needed to increase dedication to sustainability. Many also stand by the supposed economic benefits for developing nations, many of which have untapped natural resources. Diversification of supply could also stand to help either keep prices low or at least control price fluctuation. Several other issues within the metals sector need to be addressed, such as steel production. A burgeoning green steel market, which often utilises renewable energy forms such as green hydrogen to shift fossil fuels out of the value chain has arisen in recent years. While mining in itself can be damaging to the environment, though carbon emissions or air pollution - or even the destruction of indigenous sites - precious metals and minerals are used in nearly everything that could aid in increased digitalisation, electrification and self-sufficiency, from chips for electronic products and EVs, to solar panels. Advances in carbon capture & storage (CCS) technology could also help the mining sector limit its emissions, with it having similar effects for mining as it does with the construction sector. Technologies to move away from the overreliance on metals are fledgeling, but may see increased prevalence in the coming decades. The Future Mineral Summit is set to be held between January 11-13 in Riyadh. Visit: www.futuremineralssummit.com

France's €1bn plan to secure battery metals by Steven Gislam

T

he French government has unveiled a plan to raise €1 billion in an attempt to secure a steady supply of metals for sectors such as battery making, at a time when prices of raw materials are soaring. The French plan includes €500 million in public money, according to the country's industrial and environmental ministries. Paris has been looking to reduce its reliance on supplies from outside the European Union, particularly of lithium, cobalt and nickel. Securing supplies of the raw materials needed for electric vehicle batteries that also comply with ecological and ethical standards is rapidly becoming a focus for the automotive sector. Meanwhile, France has been applying pressure on manufacturers like Stellantis and Renault to make batteries domestically. Both auto firms say steps have been taken to secure a long-term supply of some of the metals required for a steady output stream. Paris is calling on the private sector to develop projects that aim to bolster metal supply chains, and that could receive financial backing from an investment fund. 36 Industry Europe

Earlier this week, a report was submitted to the government by Suez board chairman Philippe Varin, which called for the development of battery metals processing at Dunkirk, and for magnets in Lacq, in southwest France. The report also called for more money to be spent on a supply of "strategic metals", which could include investments in mining.


METALS & MINING NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Serbia cancels Rio Tinto lithium mine after months of protests by Steven Gislam

T

he government of Serbia has revoked Rio Tinto's lithium exploration licences following months of protests in the country over environmental concerns, damaging the Anglo-Australian mining company's ambition to become the largest producer of the metal in Europe. The decision comes as Serbia is gearing up for a general election in April, and as relations with Australia have soured following the deportation of tennis star Novak Djokovic on Covid-29 entry grounds. The government in Belgrade said that it would hold a referendum on the project after election day. The news comes as a major setback for Rio Tinto. The company was aiming to become one of the world's top ten producers of lithium, an important ingredient in electric vehicle batteries. The Serbian mine was Rio Tinto's sole lithium project and the company announced last month a deal to purchase another lithium asset for $825 million (€720 million) in Argentina. Shares in the company were down 4.1% at the day's closing on the Australian stock market, being down by 5.1% during the trading day. This was its worst drop since August 2021 in the wake of the Juukan Gorge incident, when the company destroyed an ancient aboriginal sacred

site during the expansion of an iron ore mine. The news of the decision came during a press conference in Belgrade by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. She told reporters that it was made following numerous requests by environmental groups to stop the $2.4 billion (€2.12 billion) lithium project at Jadar. Serbia had been rocked by months of protests, with thousands of people blocking roads and demanding Rio Tinto leave the country as well as forcing the local municipality to abandon a plan to allocate land for the facility. Rio Tinto has said it was "extremely concerned" by the decision and was looking at the legal basis for it. The Australian government said that it regretted the Serbian decision to revoke the licences. "We note the strong economic benefits of the significant investment by Rio Tinto in Serbia.

Australian resources companies have an outstanding reputation around the world, particularly when it comes to their expertise," Canberra said in a statement to Reuters. Rio Tinto has already paid around $450 million (€398 million) in pre-feasibility, feasibility and other studies at Jadar in order to understand the deposit's nature, the company said in a project fact sheet published last July. Last week, the company announced a one year delay for the mine's first production, pushing it back to 2027. The Jadar mine was expected to produce 58,000 tonnes of refined battery-grade lithium a year when running at full capacity, which would have made it the largest lithium mine in Europe by output. The world's shortage of lithium was already forecast to last for another three years, but the cancellation of Jadar means it could last several more. Credit Suisse analyst Saul Kavonic told CNN Business that the world is at the point now where lithium supply will set the pace of the rollout of electric vehicles. The rapidly growing demand has pushed prices for the metal to a record high in recent years. Lithium futures began trading on the CME in May 2021 and since then have skyrocketed by 171% to a record $38 per kg last week, according to data from Refinitiv. Visit: www.riotinto.com

German steel giant to end use of blast furnaces "by mid-2030s" by Steven Gislam

G

erman steelmaker Salzgitter wants to end the use of blast furnaces and switch to low-emissions technologies by the middle of the next decade, the company's CEO has said. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Gunnar Groebler said that doing so would mean a 95% reduction in CO2 emissions from steel production - equivalent to around 8 million tonnes per year. He added that restructuring the group's entire production method would require an investment of €3-4 billion and that he expected government support. Salzgitter is Germany's second-largest steel producer, accounting for 1% of the country's total CO2 emissions. Groebler said that he hopes the new coalition government in Berlin would support the trans-

formation of the steel sector, which produces 6% of Germany's emissions overall. The global steel industry is one of the world's largest emitters and is considered one of the harder-to-abate sectors. At present, steel production relies heavily on coking coal to smelt iron ore, making emissions unavoidable. There are, however, a number of green steel producers emerging across the continent that use hydrogen in the smelting process including HYBRIT and H2 Green Steel in Sweden, and Primetal's HYFOR project in Austria. He also urged for a fast pace of change, and pointed to the bureaucratic hurdles and perceived lack of political will that has hampered the offshore wind sector in the North Sea. He pointed out that not a single wind turbine had been installed there in 2021. "That's not due to a lack of investors. It's about an over-regulated auction system and a

lack of permits, i.e. the political will. We can't afford another year lost like that," said Groebler. The new German government headed by Olaf Scholz has made the decarbonisation of the country's heavy industry a priority in its push for climate neutrality by 2045. Plans include the use of carbon contracts for difference (CCfDs), a strategy against carbon leakage and the introduction of an EU-wide carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM). Visit: www.salzgitter-ag.com Industry Europe 37


NEWS

New developments in Metals & Mining

Metso Outotec divests metal recycling business

by Steven Gislam

F

innish company Metso Outotec has signed an agreement to divest its metal recycling business line to an affiliate of Mimir, an investment company based in Stockholm. Metso Outotec announced in October 2020 that it intended to divest its recycling businesses, which have since been reported as part of discontinued operations in Metso Outotec’s financial statements. The divestment of the Waste Recycling business has already been completed. “We are delighted that going forward, the Metal Recycling business will continue to implement its strategy together with the new owner Mimir. As an established standalone company, its full focus will be on the metal recycling markets and customers,” says Piia Karhu, Senior Vice President, Business Development and Metal Recycling business line at Metso Outotec. “This is a great opportunity for Metal Recycling to take the next step in our development”, says Ioannis Giouvanitskas, Vice President of Metso Outotec Metal Recycling. “Mimir has the resources to quickly expand our

leading market position and to be able to provide our products and services to a growing, global customer base”, he continues. ”We warmly welcome Metso Outotec Metal Recycling to Mimir and look forward to driving growth for this attractive business together with its employees. Metso Outotec Metal Recycling is a typical Mimir investment, being carved out from a large corporation with leading technology and engineering expertise that positions it among the premium brands in its markets,” says Joakim Notö, Managing Partner and Group Chairman at Mimir Invest. The Metal Recycling business sold to Mimir includes the brands Lindemann and Texas Shredder. The business will change its name in conjunction with the divestment and operate globally under the Lindemann brand, with headquarters in Düsseldorf, Germany. It’s current approximately 160 employees will transfer to the new company in connection with the transaction. The net sales of the business totalled €77 million in 2020. Visit: www.mogroup.com

Rio Tinto buys Wabtec electric trains for ore transport by Steven Gislam

T

he iron-rich Pilbara mining region in Western Australia will see its first major steps towards lowering emissions as Rio Tinto secures four battery-electric trains for use in the region, as part of wider plans to halve emissions by 2030. Developed by Wabtec, the FLXDrive locomotives have been designed for heavy freight, and are set to enter production in 2023 for live trials in 2024. The purpose of the trains will be to deliver ore from the company’s mines to their ports on the coast. Charging stations are set to be placed in both which means full journies must be completed before needing to recharge. The company claims the trains have been fitted with additional energy generation through a “regenerative braking system” which takes energy from the train when braking and uses it to recharge the onboard batteries. Tinto believes completely decarbonising its freighting could reduce active emissions from its iron ore operations by as much as 30% annually. Richard Cohen, the mining giant’s director for ports, rail and core services believes this purchase marks an essential first step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “Our partnership with Wabtec is an investment in innovation and an acknowledgement of

38 Industry Europe

the need to increase the pace of our decarbonisation efforts”, he said. “Battery-electric locomotives offer significant potential for emissions reduction in the near term as we seek to reduce our Scope 1 & 2 carbon emissions in the Pilbara by 50% by 2030.” Scope 1 emissions refer to direct emissions through things such as fuel consumption through sectors such as in-company transport and freight. Scope 2 emissions refer to indirect emissions through things such as purchased electricity or gas. Scope 3 emissions refer to any other indirect emissions through a company’s value chain, such as end-product use, employee commutes, waste disposal and shipping. Scope 3 emissions often make up the highest total greenhouse gas emissions, but can be difficult to reduce unless a company works on dealing with the other two. “This locomotive provides the power, fuel savings and emissions reductions to cost-effectively run rail networks in the mining industry”, said Rogerio Mendonca, the head of Wabtec’s freight department, adding this move shows an interest in reducing emissions. Once the delivery has been made, tests will be conducted in the Pilbara region against a range of safety and functional criteria.

While the mining sector currently accounts for between 4-7% of global greenhouse gas emissions, there are a number of sustainability, environmental and ethical challenges for the sector that it must tackle in order to achieve its goals. Mining is incredibly destructive as an industry, and Tinto itself has been embroiled in a number of controversies in recent years, such as the destruction of the Juukan Gorge cave complex or from poisoning leftover from lead mines. Mining also strips lands of natural resources, which are often finite or only located in clusters in certain parts of the world. The miner has faced a complete shakeup in response to public outcry, and reports have circulated that governments must be tougher on the mining sector in order to meet climate targets and accusing the entire sector of greenwashing. Visit: www.riotinto.com


METALS & MINING NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Plans laid for UK’s first lithium refinery by Romana Moares

M

ineral processing company Green Lithium has appointed engineering specialist Wood as its owner’s engineer, as it progresses plans to build and operate the UK’s first commercial lithium refinery. The partnership aims to fill the missing link in the electric vehicle supply chain, using a sustainable and low-carbon refining process, to connect Europe’s lithium battery and cell manufacturers with a secure supply of lithium hydroxide, produced from abundant international sources of raw lithium mineral ore. The facility will be the first of its kind in Europe and will help to meet the growing demand for battery-grade lithium chemicals vital for the commercial viability of the European battery supply chain, the electric vehicle revolution and transition to net-zero.

Wood will draw on its experience of delivering lithium refineries in other territories, including Australia, and will ensure the engineering solutions meet the needs of a merchant refinery and help Green Lithium achieve its carbon net-zero ambitions. Green Lithium is set to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and sustainable energy storage by increasing the supply of low-carbon, battery-grade lithium hydroxide. Andy Hemingway, President of Energy, Innovation & Optimisation at Wood, said: “This landmark project will revolutionise the European supply chain for EV production and sustainable energy storage at this critical time in the energy transition.” “We’re looking forward to working with Green Lithium to support its development, as we continue to bring Wood’s global expertise to the fore in transforming the energy and transportation sectors for a low-carbon future.”

Sean Sargent, Chief Executive Officer, at Green Lithium said: “The appointment of an Owner’s Engineer is a crucial development for any major construction project, and we’re delighted that a firm with the experience, expertise and market standing of Wood will be fulfilling this important role for Green Lithium. “This marks the latest milestone in the delivery of the UK’s first large-scale commercial lithium refinery, which will be a critical enabler for Europe’s electric vehicle and sustainable energy storage sectors as the continent transitions to net-zero.” Visit: www.greenlithium.co.uk

Fortescue acquires WAE in race to net-zero by Ash Jones

A

ustralian miner Fortescue has acquired Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) in a £164 million (€195 million) deal that sees the iron ore company take further steps into decarbonising its freight and transport operations. The miner is looking to bolster its green transport options at a time when the mining sector is looking to slash emissions from its carbonintensive operations across the board. WAE is an offshoot from the Williams F1 team founded by the late Sir Frank Williams, and is primarily known for its battery technology, which it will combine with Fortescue’s Future Industries arm to help the company reach its 2030 net-zero transport goals. This will primarily apply to rail, its mobile haul fleet and heavy mining equipment. “This is the race of our lifetimes – the race to save the planet from cooking. The speed at which we move matters. Together FFI and WAE will work to decarbonise Fortescue – with the aim of achieving that faster and more effectively than anyone else in the world”, Fortescue Chairman Andrew Forrest said in a statement. “This is a historic moment in the future of our company as we work together to decarbonise heavy industry and hard to abate sectors for the good of our planet and the benefit of our shareholders. “This is the key to unlocking the formula for removing fossil-fuelpowered machinery and replacing it with zero carbon emission technology, powered by green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.” “High-performance battery and electrification systems are at the core of what we do at WAE, and this acquisition and investment will enable the

company’s further growth to support the delivery of zero-emission products and services across existing sectors – such as automotive, motorsport and off-highway – and new sectors too,” said WAE CEO Craig Wilson. “We are delighted to play a key role in Fortescue’s decarbonisation strategy, contributing to the delivery of their emissions reduction targets through highperformance battery systems, green hydrogen and related technologies. “We will also be focusing on addressing the sector-wide challenges in the off-highway sector. Both companies have a shared culture of innovation, setting and achieving challenging objectives and a genuine commitment to creating a sustainable future,” he added. Visit: www.fmgl.com.au

Industry Europe 39


NEWS

New developments in Politics & Economics

California's ambitious $10 billion blueprint for net-zero by Ash Jones

California governor Gavin Newsom

C

alifornia Governor Gavin Newsom has announced a monumental $10 billion (€8.95 billion) investment package for zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) to accelerate the automotive sector's transition away from fossil fuels. The US state, which is currently home to nearly 40 million people, has a massive problem with air pollution due to its high population density, mountainous terrain and hot climate which is only exacerbated by fossil fuel use. One study by the California Air Resources Board estimates as many as 90% of residents breathe in unhealthy levels of one or more different pollutants. Particularly high population areas, such as Los Angeles also suffer from heavy smog levels. "The future is electric, and we’re making it easier and cheaper than ever before to go electric,"

Newsom said in a statement. "That means more assistance to help folks buy clean cars and more charging stations in more communities throughout the state.“California is eliminating our dependence on oil and providing a blueprint for the entire world on how to aggressively fight the climate crisis while growing the state’s clean energy economy." Back in September 2020, Newsom unveiled a plan to shift the entire state's automotive sector away from fossil fuels to EVs by 2035, pledging around $3.9 billion (€3.49 billion). Electric vehicles have become one of the state's largest exports. In 2020, California made $5.7 billion from exporting electric vehicles alone. The Governer's Office estimates that California makes up half of the US's EV market. “To achieve California’s climate goals we must focus on the needs of the most polluted and underserved neighbourhoods. Governor Newsom’s ZEV investment proposal recognizes this reality,” said Alvaro Sanchez, the Vice President of Policy at nonprofit NGO The Greenlining Institute. The new plans will see Newsom's administration inject a further $6.1 billion into the scheme announced last year, which will go towards innovation to make EVs more affordable in a state with a notoriously high cost of living, while also building

new infrastructure such as the plethora of charging stations that will be necessary for the transition. Significant investments include: • $256 million for low-income consumer purchases, and $900 million to expand affordable and convenient ZEV infrastructure access in low-income neighbourhoods • Over $3 billion into introducing electric vehicles into public transport, such as school bus links, public bus routes, truck fleets, off-road equipment and an additional $400 million for port electrification • $419 million to provide zero-emissions transport links to low-income areas • $200 million investment into demonstration and pilot projects in high carbonemitting sectors, such as maritime, aviation, rail and other off-road applications, as well as support for vehicle grid integration at scale The state has also pledged to ban the sale of fossil-fuel-powered cars by 2035 and is mandating truck fleets make the switch by 2045. It has also made moves to stop oil drilling in local communities, attempted to end fracking and claims to have created nearly 500,000 jobs in clean energy.

Bill Gates-backed Catalyst fund launches request for proposals by Steven Gislam

B

ill Gates-backed green finance fund Breakthrough Energy launched a request for proposals (RfP) earlier this week to support emerging largescale environmentally sustainable technology projects in the EU, Norway and Iceland. The Commission heralded the RfP as the "first milestone" of the EU-Catalyst partnership. Launched last November at COP26 in Glasgow 40 Industry Europe

by Gates, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer, the project is now searching for high-potential green projects across the continent that cover sustainable aviation fuel, green hydrogen, long-duration energy storage and direct air capture. The goal of the partnership is to raise $1 billion between 2022 and 2026 to address the early deployment funding gap for these technologies and accelerate their deployment and commercialisation. The Commission says that the EU-Catalyst will help deliver the ambitions of the European Green Deal, and aid in the bloc's ambition to become climate-neutral by 2050. "With the EU-Catalyst Partnership, we want to make a daring leap towards achieving our climate goals," said R&D Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. "We need technological revolution on a global scale, large investments, more financial risk-taking and more game-changing innovations, as well as policies that support public-private partnerships across the globe." The European Union's half of the fund has come from its Horizon Europe programme and the Innovation Fund. The Commission has claimed that for each euro of public funds spent, three will be leveraged in private investment. Visit: www.breakthroughenergy.org


POLITICS & ECONOMICS NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Breton: Nuclear will play "fundamental role" in EU's energy transition by Ash Jones

T

he EU's Commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton has stated the bloc will need to invest €500 million into nuclear energy by 2050 as part of the energy transition - roughly €20 million per year. In an interview with French newspaper Journal du Dimanche on January 9, Breton stated it is " really necessary to move up a gear in the production of carbon-free electricity in Europe", adding that demand for electricity - particularly clean electricity - will double over the next 30 years. He said significant investments into both renewable and nuclear infrastructure will be required to meet energy goals and states that nuclear cannot be excluded from the energy mix, despite some opposition from activists. The EU has been pushing for decarbonisation in energy markets as part of plans to become net-zero by 2050 as part of the EU Green Deal, this has included plans to clean up urban mobility and pushes for coal bans. The energy transition was at the heart of the 2021 EU Industry Days conference, and the COP26 conference in November saw world leaders look to tackle the climate crisis firsthand. "Existing nuclear plants alone will need €50 billion of investment from now until 2030", he said, with new nuclear plants requiring around €500 million by the mid-century. He believes nuclear energy will play a "fundamental role" in helping the EU reach its climate goals.

Nuclear energy currently accounts for around 26% of the bloc's energy mix, and the Commissioner told the newspaper he expects this to fall to around 15% by 2050. The status of nuclear in the EU's energy mix has been something of an unknown variable in the past. Earlier this month, the Commission included nuclear as part of its draft taxonomy regulations, meaning that it is considered as "green" energy and therefore not subject to the same sanctions as traditional fossil fuels. The decision was met with widespread criticism from environmental groups, and official experts have until January 12 to provide a formal response to the draft proposal. The Commission says it hopes to adopt a final text by the end of the month. The EU also held a citizens' panel on the energy transition between January 7-9 in a bid to adopt their 51 recommendations for the energy transition, the environment and public health going forward. The next plenary session is expected to take place on January 21-22 they will present the outcomes of their respective Panel discussions, and debate them with Members of the European Parliament, national government and parliament representatives, European Commissioners, and other Plenary Members from EU bodies, regional and local authorities, social partners and civil society.

EU plays hardball with Poland over Turów coal mine by Steven Gislam

T

he European Commission has said that it has begun the process of subtracting millions of euros from funds allocated to Poland after the government ignored a court injunction to close down the controversial coal mine near the Czech border. Last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered the closure of the mine at Turów in a case brought by the Czech Republic. Prague said the open brown coal mine was creating cross-border air and noise pollution as well as draining groundwater from villages on its side of the border. The Polish government refused to shut down operations at the site, arguing that it is vital for local employment and essential for the country's energy requirements. It also claimed that the EU does not have the legal authority to order the mine's closure. In September, the CJEU imposed a fine of €500,000 per day for as long as the mine remains open. At a news briefing on Wednesday, European Commission spokesperson Balazs Ujvari told reporters that the deadline for Poland's first payment had expired the previous day, and the Commission had begun its "offsetting procedure".

Poland's first payment totalled €15 million with an additional €30,000 interest. The fine stands currently at over €60 million, though Warsaw has said it refuses to pay. According to 2018 figures published by the EU, Poland contributes €3.98 billion - 0.84% of its economy - to the European Union, and receives €16.35 billion from the bloc, equivalent to 3.43% of its economy. "What the Commission needs to do now is to identify a suitable or appropriate payment against which the compensation can be made," Ujvari said. The Polish government will then be given a minimum of ten working days to respond. The governments of Poland and the Czech Republic have been holding talks looking for a solution to the problem but have so far failed to reach an agreement. In December, Poland recalled a new ambassador to Prague after he criticised his country's approach to the issue, saying that his country had been arrogant and shown a "lack of empathy". On Wednesday however, Poland's environment Minister Anna Moskwa struck a more upbeat note. She told public broadcaster Polskie Radio 1 that the Czech government would withdraw its complaint

to the CJEU in an agreement could be found. "If the agreement is successfully signed ... the Czech side will immediately send information to the court that the dispute has been resolved and Polish Environment withdraw their comMinister Anna Moskwa plaint," said Moskwa. "Yesterday's meeting certainly produced more than the 18 earlier meetings with the previous government, not only in terms of atmosphere... but also in terms of specific arrangements." No information was given about what the agreement might look like. The Commission's move is a sign of growing frustration in Brussels with Poland. Since October, the country has been racking up fines of €1 million per day over its refusal to follow EU rulings regarding changes to its judicial system. The ECJ ordered the suspension of the disciplinary chamber of the Polish Supreme Court, saying it violates standards. The bloc is also withholding pandemic recovery funds because of Warsaw's refusal to comply with court orders. Industry Europe 41


NEWS

New developments in Politics & Economics

What is the human cost of the green & digital transitions? by Steven Gislam

IE

met Joshua Setipa, Managing Director at the UN Tech Bank for the Least Developed Countries at GMIS2021 to speak about the elephant in the room when it comes to the fourth industrial revolution. The buzz around the twin transitions of the 21st century has been steadily growing louder and louder. Just as Covid seemed to be taking a backseat, COP26 brought the issue of the green transition back to the forefront. While the outcomes of the Glasgow summit have been met with varying degrees of cynicism and enthusiasm, there is little doubt that sooner or later, the world will shift to sustainable production methods aided by rapid advancements in technology. There is, however, an elephant in the room here, and it’s one that if left unaddressed could render hollow the enthusiastic chatter and grandiose speeches made by politicians and business leaders at global summits. Or to put it in the words of everyone’s favourite teenage curmudgeon Greta Thunberg, still more “blah blah blah”. It is an issue that has dogged humanity since the first Industrial Revolution and one that neither of the subsequent industrial revolutions, despite promises to the contrary, has managed to set right. It is a burning, yet uncomfortable question that could undermine the legitimacy of the entire fourth industrial revolution and one that carves close to the bone when it comes to the west’s imperial past: How do we ensure that the world’s poorest are not left behind again as the rest of us make the transition? Realising the mistakes of the past is one thing, but resolving them is quite another. The subject has also become drawn into the socalled culture wars in western countries, further complicating what is, or at least should be, one of the most pertinent issues of our time. On the sidelines of GMIS2021 in Dubai, IE spoke to Joshua Phoho Setipa, the Managing Director of the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries (UNTBLDC), to get some insights into a problem that is just not being discussed. Established in 2018, the UNTBLDC’s mission is to enhance the scientific, technological and innovative capabilities for sustainable development in the world’s 46 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), as well as former LDCs for five years after graduating from the category.

42 Industry Europe

“There was a realisation that unless there was a deliberate effort to provide dedicated support to a set of countries, the gap between them and the rest of the world, technologically speaking, would continue widening. Despite numerous initiatives, despite the resources that have been made available, they were falling through the cracks,” explained Setipa. “So, the UNTBLDC was created to mobilise support for these countries to help them plug the holes around science, technology, and innovation, help them understand where the gaps are in their policy framework and how to address them, and to understand how they can enhance the ecosystems around innovation. “We engage with partners across the spectrum. We work with the private sector because innovation resides primarily there. We work with academia to focus on specific areas for research, whether it’s financial inclusion, or creating a system for venture capital. We also work with research facilities to build such capacity. Last year, we trained around 3,500 researchers and we continue to provide that support. We also work with governments to help them rationalise their approach to science, technology and development, and to identify priorities, thus streamlining the process.” With some LDCs still struggling with First Industrial Revolution issues, perhaps it is less an issue of how to catch up and more one of how to leverage these countries’ latecomer status to leapfrog to digitalisation and green tech. Not only would this avoid the need to invest in heavily polluting industries just when the rest of the world is moving away from them - but it would enable them to compete on an even platform with more developed countries. In Africa’s case, demographics are on its side. By far the youngest continent with a median age of 19.7 in 2020, Africa’s youth makes it well

placed to leapfrog technologically, but much still stands in the way of that potential. Tangiable progress is held back by a range of issues, from food security to climate mitigation to inclusive growth to green tech and the energy transition. These issues are central, not only to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals but also to helping LDCs develop. Central to each of them all, however, is financing. While several high-profile global commitments have been made and significant resources have been loudly pledged, the question as to how much of that money has gone to the countries becomes obfuscated. “Sitting here today, I can tell you that very little money has made it,” Setipa said. “When you talk to those countries, they will tell you that to access those resources is almost impossible because of the administrative hoops that they have to jump through and the preconditions that they have to comply with. It just doesn’t add up. The reality is that accessibility has not been as smooth as everyone expected. “We can definitely do better in tracking in monitoring and assessing impact, but until we can track every dollar and see where it’s trickling down to, we can never know, and it remains a declaration and nothing more.” Putting the money issues to one side, the issue of the human impact that the green transition is already having tends to get drowned out in a busy news cycle. It is no secret that many of the minerals needed to power our smart devices and electric vehicles come from some of the poorest LDCs. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the world’s wealthiest countries in terms of untapped resources and the world’s largest source of cobalt. In 2019, around 70% of global mined cobalt came from the central African country, with demand set to rise rapidly. However, despite this untapped wealth, the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world. An estimated 73% of the population - around 60 million people - are living on less than $1.90 a day. Against this backdrop, reports of the use of child labour in the so-called “artisanal mines” in the southern DRC region of Katanga continue to surface. “The global governance system around sustainable extraction or exploitation of natural resources needs to be given teeth. There has to be a capacity


POLITICS & ECONOMICS NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS for enforcement to ensure compliance. The multinationals that extract these minerals should be held accountable. It’s a form of corruption,” he says. “You focus on the demand side, which is absolutely correct. But you forget that it takes two. So the companies that are extracting also have a responsibility. I’m not even trying to get governments off the hook. But if we can enforce that responsibility of the companies that are conducting those operations, then I think we can begin to see the emergence of much more transparent and compliant mining practices. As long as no questions are asked about the origins of a product, abuses will continue.” However, he is also quick to highlight the shared responsibility that should exist between an LDC’s government and those companies operating within its jurisdiction. He points to

cases where obsolete technologies that are no longer compliant with environmental or industrial standards are being sold to LDCs in desperate need of investment, by countries and companies keen to divest as they upgrade. The responsibility here, he argues, lies with both sides. One of the platforms that Joshua Setipa believes can help change the situation going into the future, is the African Union. “Through the AU, we can make a unified political effort around enforcing standards and ensure that Africa is not turned into a dumping ground for substandard technologies.” “It has a very important role to play. It’s always been important as a platform to mobilise African political coherence and drive common positions. And from an economic perspective, the EU is a very important stakeholder in this process.”

While the problem is unquestionably rooted in systematic historic injustices, Setipa believes that poor African leadership has also played a large role in creating many of the problems the continent faces today. “I’m not a big fan of blaming our misfortunes solely on the Europeans. Yes, they messed up Africa. But that makes it a good time to decide our future for ourselves. To establish what is good and what is not good for us. We need to ask ourselves why are we still making the same mistakes that we made before.” With all that said, is leapfrogging ahead to the Fourth Industrial Revolution realistic for the world’s least developed countries? “Without financing, it will be very difficult, but I think leapfrogging is the best way to go. Otherwise, the journey will remain long and difficult.”

GMIS2021: John Kerry calls on India, China and Russia to help “keep 1.5°C alive” by Ash Jones

U

S climate envoy John Kerry has called on India, China and Russia to “come on board” with the rest of the world and commit to the energy transition in order to potentially avoid the more disastrous effects of climate change at the 2021 Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS). Speaking during a fireside chat that focused on the energy transition post-COP26 on the first day of the summit, Kerry urged global leaders to attempt to keep the 1.5°C goals as laid out by the Paris Climate Accord “alive”, urging for rapid action against the climate crisis. “Today, we have countries that comprise 70% of the global GDP committed to reducing their emissions by half by 2030”, he told the conference. “So obviously, we still need that 30%, we have to get them onboard – and that’s India and Russia and China.” China has promised to begin its phase-out of coal by 2026, which has been met with some criticism from activists, who feel the transition is too slow. Both Russia and India have yet to pledge to end coal use. Kerry touched on the agreement made between the US and China back in 2015 to limit the global temperature from rising above 1.5°C when compared to pre-industrial times. The US eventually pulled out of the agreement in 2017 under the Trump administration, but re-entered in January 2021 when President Biden signed an executive order on his first day in office. “Generally, we’re seeing incredible movement from global players, and the industrial sector is stepping up for the first time. Trillions of dollars are definitely moving in the right direction towards climate action – and money is always going to change minds”, he said. Kerry also addressed criticisms that the oil and gas sector was supposedly offered little representation during the talks in Glasgow earlier this month, stating that the fossil fuel industry has “never had a hard time getting its voice heard”. “The challenge of oil and gas is not the industry itself, it’s the byproduct of what happens to it. What will govern it is the cost of energy in the market”, he added. The COP27 summit is set to be held in Egypt, while COP28 is set to be held in the UAE - both major oil exporters, which may help address the

problems with fossil fuels at its source. Both the Middle East and Africa are key in securing the energy transition. Transitions and adaptation are “part and parcel” with human evolution, he said, and the real question is the pace at which we enable the energy transition. Kerry claims the transition is happening now because the market demands it. Fossil fuel prices slumped during the pandemic, while interest in renewable energy boomed as supply chains were battered by reduced demand and closed borders. However, it could be argued that an earlier transition could have prevented the frantic nature of the energy transition, as nations and businesses scramble to diversify energy mixes and bolster their supply chains. Solar energy now often produces cheaper electricity than coal, which may also drive market demands. While renewable energy infrastructure is still not entirely sustainable owing to the materials used in their production and the greenhouse gases emitted in other sectors such as shipping or freight that are required to transport parts, there is no doubt it is still cleaner than coal. Kerry said: “We need to phase coal out faster because you can’t sufficiently abate it – it’s creating the greatest warming on the planet”. “Now, the question is: will we transition fast enough to overcome the most devastating effects of climate change? Because, believe me, this is existential”, he concluded. Visit: gmisummit.com

Industry Europe 43


WE WILL SHAKE HANDS AGAIN AND DISCUSS BROKEN SUPPLY CHAINS IN INDUSTRIAL AUTOMATION WORLD

T

he industrial automation sector is one of the fastest-growing markets in the world. Between 2020 and 2025, the average annual growth will stand at a 7.3% CAGR. In 2025, the market will be worth $114.17 billion (report “Process Automation Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecast (2020 - 2025)” by Mordor Intelligence). Such a dynamically growing and changing market was particularly impacted by the pandemic and the chaos it caused. Companies who were in the centre of this rapidly changing environment were trade companies like distributors, brokers, and dealers of components. 2021 was especially challenging for these companies, as there was much to do to repair broken supply chains.

44 Industry Europe

The need for dialogue in the dynamically developing industrial automation market. Component trade companies will play a key role in ensuring the continuity of production lines. The cooperation of these companies is an indispensable element of the upcoming changes, which will enable the efficient implementation of new processes and the development of best practices. The world has changed over the last few years. People have gotten used to spending hours on video calls during the workday. However with the vaccination efforts going well, there are some events you don’t want to miss if you pay attention to the industrial automation market.


TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION

One of them will take place soon on May 20-21, Warsaw, Poland.

Who will take part in Automa.Net Meeting & Expo 2022 and what companies can you meet there?

Automa.Net Meeting & Expo is a closed networking conference designed for executives from industrial automation companies. The event will take place in Arche Hotel Krakowska. The event has lots to offer including a welcome reception during which guests will be able to mingle with industry peers. A full day of networking in an open space hall, where companies will also present their products and services. The event will finish with a gala sit-down dinner and some entertainment. It’s the first edition, and organisers are striving to make it an unforgettable experience. Over 40 delegates have now confirmed their participation, mainly Managing Directors and C-level executives from top industrial automation companies.

At the meeting, you will be able to meet mainly suppliers and distributors of components (it will be about 80% of the current companies), and also:

More details about the meeting Thanks to the modern formula of this B2B event, delegates from participating companies will have the opportunity to focus on integration and talks with business partners. The event is only for attending participants and does not include visitors.

• Brokers / Dealers and other companies trading in automation and industrial electronics • Small and medium sized component manufacturers • Software vendors • IT companies specialising in industrial automation • Organisations / Associations Premium companies who have confirmed their participation are: DREAMland from the Czech Republic, PLC-City from Italy, Maritex, PLCConnex and Elektryk from Poland, Maxodeals from the Netherlands and many more. The current list of featured companies can be viewed on the event website www.meeting.automa.net

Industry Europe 45


DREAMland, spol. s r.o. We sell We sell new and refurbished spare parts from the industrial automation sector, primarily from names such as Siemens, Allen-Bradley, Omron, Mitsubishi, etc. A big advantage is our own warehouse with approximately 63,000 items, which we are able to ship 24/7/365 on the day of the customer order. If you are looking for new or refurbished parts at an affordable price, or parts that are no longer supplied by the manufacturer, visit our https://eshop.dreamland-plc.cz/ e-shop.

We repair Our Company has its own repair centre, where we repair industrial automation components, especially those from the Siemens brand. The price of repair is always set in advance and usually ranges from 20 to 40% of the original price of the new product. Most routine repairs are performed within 2-4 weeks. In urgent cases, we offer express repair in a shorter period.

We buy We buy any components from the industrial automation sector, both non-functional and mechanically damaged. We buy parts from liquidated warehouses, leftover spare parts from assembly work, and old parts following technological upgrades.

46 Industry Europe


TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION

For an online floor plan and folder with pricing, contact us at: meeting@automa.net.

FOR INDUSTRY EUROPE READERS: A 15% DISCOUNT CODE. PROVIDE WHEN BOOKING: “IndustryEurope202215off” About the Organiser: In March 2021, the Automa.Net online platform was launched in the automation and industrial electronics market, aimed at enabling all companies trading automation and industrial electronics components to freely exchange information on the availability of specific parts and inventory. It is a pioneering project - bringing together industrial automation companies from all over Europe, but also from other continents. Marcin Krzaczkowski, Automa.Net managing director explained where the event idea came from “Automa.Net’s mission is to create tools for companies from the automation industry, which will facilitate their cooperation with each other. This is where the idea for this next project was born - this time an offline idea - The Automa.Net Meeting & Expo. Currently, it is an integral part of the Automa.Net project - a n portal that has introduced a breath of fresh air to the industry”.

Marcin Kraczkowski

Managing Director at Automa.Net Sponsorship opportunities are available. Contact us at: meeting@automa.net

Galco Industrial Electronics For more than 45 years, Galco has been a leader in the industrial electronics industry by offering reliable industrial and commercial electrical, electronic control, automation, and motion products, with full-service repair and engineering support. Headquartered in Madison Heights, Michigan, Galco provides industry professionals with a variety of industrial electronic control capabilities and innovative solutions they can rely on. Here at Galco, we are committed to being a trusted advisor to our customers and supply partners. We also strive to provide the best-in-class customer experience, the highest level of service and technical support, and a broad selection of products. Our expertise extends beyond intimate product knowledge. Galco offers send-in repair, onsite repair, and engineering services to assist customers long-term, specializing in industrial electronic equipment, motion control and CNC engineering, and control panel fabrication.

Industry Europe 47


NEWS

New developments in Technology & Innovation

Samsung selects Texas for $17bn chip gigafactory by Ash Jones

S

outh Korean tech giant Samsung has decided on the city of Taylor, Texas as the location of its $17 billion semiconductor gigafactory, the company revealed last week. The plant will aid in creating "next-generation" chips in a bid to bolster US semiconductor supply chains as part of nationwide initiatives to tackle the ongoing semiconductor shortage. Taylor previously offered Samsung significant income tax cuts should it be chosen as the location of its new chip plant. When complete, it will be the company's second plant in the state, with Samsung already operating chip fabs in Austin. "As we add a new facility in Taylor, Samsung is laying the groundwork for another important chapter in our future,” said Kinam Kim, Vice Chairman and CEO, Samsung Electronics Device Solutions Division. “With greater manufacturing capacity, we will be able to better serve the needs of our customers and contribute to the stability of the global semiconductor supply chain", he added. The plant could stand to create as many as 1,800 new jobs and increase the US's domestic

production of semiconductors, which forms part of President Joe Biden's pledge to tackle the shortages at home. Construction on the plant is expected to commence in 2022, with operations set to commence in 2024. The Taylor site will span more than 5 million square meters and is expected to serve as a key location for Samsung’s global semiconductor manufacturing capacity along with its latest new production line in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. Samsung claims there were four major reasons why it selected Texas as the location for its new fabs, including the proximity to Samsung's existing plant, a vibrant semiconductor ecosystem, support from local authorities and community development opportunities. The news comes as Samsung celebrates chipmaking in the US for 25 years. It currently employs over 20,000 people across the nation. Texas continues to be a hotbed for the industry, particularly the tech sector. Other major players, such as AMD, Intel and Silicon Labs, continue to operate in the region owing to what governer Greg Abbott refers to as its "world-class business climate and exceptional workforce".

“Samsung’s new semiconductor manufacturing facility in Taylor will bring countless opportunities for hardworking Central Texans and their families and will play a major role in our state’s continued exceptionalism in the semiconductor industry. I look forward to expanding our partnership to keep the Lone Star State a leader in advanced technology and a dynamic economic powerhouse", he added. Samsung has been planning a string of significant investments in a bid to increase its post-pandemic output. It is planning on investing the equivalent of around $200 billion in a post-Covid stimulus scheme, which will also see it push into the biopharmaceutical sector, while also making advances in AI tech and 5G. The group also revealed its plans to push for greater growth through mergers and acquisitions. Visit: www.samsung.com

Bosch begins SiC semiconductor production in Germany by Steven Gislam

G

erman multinational engineering and tech company Bosch has begun the volume production of silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductors at its plant in Reutlingen in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. Power semiconductors made of silicon carbide are small, powerful, and extremely efficient and more and more automotive manufacturers across the world are relying on these chips for production. SiC has the potential for use in a wide range of applications in the automotive sector, in particular for electric vehicle batteries. Compared with silicon chips, SiC can reduce charging time, extend driving range and offer more efficiency by providing the same range with a lower battery capacity. "The future for silicon carbide semiconductors is bright. We want to become a global leader in the production of SiC chips for electromobility," said Harald Kroeger, member of the board of management of Bosch. Bosch first announced that it would be moving ahead with SiC chip development and production two years ago. Since then, the company says it has developed "its own highly complex manufacturing processes", with which it has been producing the semiconductors since early this year - initially as samples for customers, with volume production beginning a few days ago. "Our order books are full, thanks to the boom in electromobility," added Kroeger. 48 Industry Europe

The company outlined its future plans in a press release, which said that it aims to "expand its production capacity for SiC power semiconductors to a unit volume running into the hundreds of millions". It added that a 3,000 square metre expansion of its clean-room space at the Reutlingen plant was already underway, which should be completed by 2023. Bosch has also begun working on the second generation of SiC chips, which it says will be more efficient and should be ready for volume production sometime in 2022. The company plans to manufacture the semiconductors on 200-millimetre wafers. Bosch said that compared with today's 150-millimetre wafers, this "will deliver sizeable economies of scale". At present, it takes several months for a single wafer to pass through several hundred process steps in countless machines. "By producing on larger wafers, we can manufacture significantly more chips in one production run and thus supply more customers," said Kroeger. The research and development of SiC chips at Bosch is receiving support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy as part of the EU's “Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) Microelectronics” programme. "For several years now, we have been providing support to help establish semiconductor production in Germany. Bosch’s highly innovative semiconductor production strengthens the microelectronics ecosystem in Europe and is a


TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS China's 5-year plan aims for global leadership in robotics by Ash Jones

A

t the end of December, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) unveiled a plan to make the country a figurehead for innovation with plans to become a "global leader" of the robotics industry. The nation remains the largest market in the world with a population of a little over 1.4 billion and represents a huge opportunity for development in the industry, according to the latest report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). “China is by far the biggest robot market in the world regarding annual sales and the operational stock,” says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). “IFR´s robot density statistics is a useful indicator of China´s dynamic developments, counting the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees: China´s robot density in the manufacturing industry currently ranks 9th globally (246 units) - compared to 25th (49 units) just five years ago." Foreign robotics manufacturers currently make up 73% of the Chinese automation market, and, despite market volatility in recent years, that figure has remained constant. In 2020 alone, imports from Japan, Korea and Europe increased by 24%, the report claims. This number includes domestic units produced by non-Chinese companies. Conversely, Chinese robot manufacturers primarily cater to the Chinese market, where they held a 27% share for 2020.

The report found that 168,377 units were installed in 2020 - 45,347 from Chinese suppliers - seeing a sharp 20% increase from 2019 numbers. The data suggests that 42% of the robots installed in the year were for handling operations, while 21% were for welding, 37% were for the electronics industry and 16% were for the automotive industry. The CPC's Central Committee and the State Council attaches "great importance to the development of the robot industry", the five-year plan states, referring to robotics as "the pearl at the top of the manufacturing crown", likely symboling a commitment to heavily automating its manufacturing sector. The government's five-year plan is the second plan for the robotics industry, following the 2016-2020 plan, which sought to utilise robots to increase productivity. “The [2021] plan has great guiding significance for promoting the highquality development of China's robotics industry during the 14th period," said Song Xiaogang, Executive Director and Secretary-General of the China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA). "Robots are the key equipment of modern industry. The new five-year plan leads the digital development and intelligent upgrading in China and also helps to promote the global robot technology progress." The IFR report concludes that China remains the top consumer market for robotics and saw a 20% growth between 2015-2020.

Spinview's digital twin could help monitor the London Underground by Ash Jones

T

ransport for London (TfL) has partnered with digital twin startup Spinview to help clean up the tube and make it emission-free by 2030. The project will allow for the latter's technology to help micromanage a number of key assets of the London Underground, digitally monitor tracks and tunnels and provide data on noise and heat levels and greenhouse gas emissions. Initially focusing on the Piccadilly Line, the tech should help drive London Mayor Sadiq Khan's ambitions for net-zero rail travel by the end of the decade. Spinview's budget has been allocated via the government's Smart Grid Grant to support the implementation of the digital twin. The team hopes the technology will help meet sustainability targets while also ironing out any inefficiencies in the system that could not only help things run smoother but also cut costs and reduce other issues associated with the London Underground, such as air and noise pollution and heat management. Spinview's Deep Rail Sensor maps out the geometry of the area and detects pollutants, which will also allow the Underground to moni-

tor active emissions to track progress towards environmental goals. The firm also claims the twin could reveal information hidden from the human eye, such as faults, heat hotspots or pinpointing the exact location of noise, which could be utilised by TfL to improve the customer's experience. “This partnership offers us a really exciting opportunity to gain real-time access to our assets on the Underground network, many of which we can currently only inspect during engineering hours", said Paul Judge, the director of the Piccadilly Line Upgrade at TfL. "Not only will using digital-twin technology support the smarter, more efficient maintenance of the railway, it will also enable us to more accurately monitor environmental challenges such as carbon emissions, noise levels and heat as we strive to do more to lessen our carbon footprint and help tackle the climate emergency". Spinview also hopes the project will allow for TfL to manage more complex data sets through the entire lifecycle of the project. It could stand to lessen the burden on physical inspectors traditional maintenance takes place between 1-5 am - as they could use the twin's interface

to identify problems far more quickly and not have to rely entirely on antisocial working hours. TfL has already taken measures to reduce the environmental impact of the Piccadilly line. Last March, the body partnered with Siemens to introduce a new fleet of trains to the line with plans to replace the existing fleet, which had been in action since the 1970s. Aside from cleaning up the line, the new trains could also increase the number of services per hour, meaning a new train may arrive at a stop every 135 seconds. The team hopes the active number of trains on services will increase to around 27 per hour. With more trains and more service, greater lengths will need to be taken to clean up the tracks, which is where the digital twin could shine. “We are thrilled to support TfL in its ambitions to achieve a zero-carbon railway by 2030", said Spinview's CEO Linda Wade. "By establishing a visually intelligent ecosystem for TfL, Spinview hopes to not only help TfL in tracking its environmental goals, but also to support in facilitating better decision-making, driving forward business efficiencies, saving costs and futureproofing the network in the long-term.” Industry Europe 49


NEWS

New developments in Technology & Innovation

Unity & Hyundai developing Metaverse to accelerate Intelligent Manufacturing by Steven Gislam

R

eal-time 3D content platform Unity and South Korean automaker Hyundai have unveiled a new partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show 2022 to jointly design and build a new metaverse roadmap and platform for the ‘Meta-Factory’. Hyundai is aiming to become the first mobility company to build a Metafactory - a digital-twin of a physical plant. The purpose of the Meta-factory is to provide a space for the firm to test numerous scenarios virtually, in order to assess, calculate and create optimal operation conditions, without employees needing to be onsite. The collaboration should result in a real-time 3D virtual platform, which Hyundai says will be available to a broad group of its customers, offering them a more comprehensive range of services. Consumers will be able to trial, test and engage various automotive options digitally, before choosing which to transfer to physical vehicles. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the companies also covers smart manufacturing, AI training and study as well as simulations for autonomous driving. “Real-time digital twins will permanently change how we live, work, shop and make a positive impact on our planet, representing a significant component of what is often referred to as the ‘metaverse’,” said John Riccitiello, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Unity.

“Hyundai’s vision for the future including the digital twin of factory operations represents a significant technological step forward in manufacturing, with unlimited potential in its efficiency.” Hyundai plans to first apply the Meta-Factory concept to the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center facility in Singapore (HMGICS), as part of the automaker’s initiative to create an open innovation hub for research and development. Hyundai Motor Group President Youngcho Chi said that the Innovation Center, which is still under construction and set for completion by the end of the year, was set to become “a manufacturing innovation ‘gamechanger’ through this world-class Meta-Factory collaboration”. “And HMGICS will lead the future innovation by introducing various technologies that will transform mobility paradigm through human-centred value chain innovation,” Chi added. Due to be completed at the end of 2022, HMGICS will study a number of advanced technologies and mobility services and aims to further accelerate innovation in intelligent manufacturing, AI, 5G and other advanced technologies. Country Manager Kim Insuk of Unity Korea said: “This MOU with Hyundai Motor Company represents Unity Korea’s first example of collaborating on future industries such as smart factories, robot simulation, and computer vision within a metaverse setting. We’re thrilled to ally with Hyundai Motor Company, as it unfolds the future mobility business it envisions.” Visit: https://unity.com

5 sectors most at risk from cybercrime by Ash Jones

C

ybersecurity should be ignored by businesses at their own peril. No matter how seriously a company believes it is safeguarded for potential data breaches or other cyber threats, are they really doing everything they can to ensure their business, or more importantly, their customers, are protected? New research carried out by Cybersecurity firm FoxTech claims to have found the top five industries most at risk from attack. Companies were audited across a wide range of industrial sectors, and “cyber risk” scores were calculated using publically available information, which offered the firm an immediate idea if a particular company was at risk of a breach. The highest scores were often attributed to the following sectors:

1. Software development This one is unsurprising given it is currently one of the booming tech sectors. Any industry that relies heavily on computers for storage, work and business will be a prime target for cybercrime. 50 Industry Europe

2. Publishing Number two on the list hits a little close to home, particularly if the majority of the content produced appears online. One attack could demolish servers, delete years of data, breach accounts and even open up other, similar businesses (if there are multiple publications under the same company) to similar attacks - all leading to the potential for massive monetary losses.

3. Research and development Like many high-risk industrial sectors, such as energy attacks against any kinds of industrial holdings, the severity of crimes against R&D firms depends on the type of research being conducted. Cyberespionage or cyberterrorism attacks against certain types of firms could have disastrous consequences, such as diseases being released, dangerous chemical leaks or even national security breaches should the research be conducted by a nation’s government.

4. Transportation, freighting, trucking, railway Attacks against core societal infrastructure could cause a number of issues, ranging from produc-

tion delays found with workers not arriving to work on time, to the complete disruption of industrial supply chains, which could have severe effects on domestic and international economies. While not the result of a cybersecurity attack, should you want a prime example of how a seemingly minor supply chain disruption can have more severe effects, look at the Suez Canal crisis from earlier this year.

5. Civil engineering Much of civil engineering is being driven by the digital transformation and disrupting it could cause severe delays or even threaten the structural integrity of a building should the attack come during the construction phase, all with the potential to cause massive losses for the public and private sectors. But, what leads to cybercrime? The issue is often not that companies do not care about cybersecurity, but that they are simply unaware their IT infrastructure is at risk. “In many cases, companies will be entirely unaware that the antivirus or endpoint protection software they have invested in simply isn’t robust or far-reaching enough to prevent a cyber attack from occurring”, FoxTech CTO Anthony Green said. Continue at: www.industryeurope.com


TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Why Dubai is turning itself into a global tech hub by Ash Jones

T

he name Dubai conjures up images of glitzy hotels, glamorous nightlife, towering feats of architecture and gigantic shopping malls all to a backdrop of the baking desert heat. However, the city is more than just the playground for the super-rich. Behind the impeccably designed skyscrapers and layers of neon, Dubai is at the forefront of the UAE’s attempts to diversify the economy and reinvent itself as a global hub for tech and innovation. The country is presently still heavily reliant on oil and gas revenues. In 2009, WTO figures found that 85% of the UAE’s economy was based on oil exports. This puts the UAE into the world’s top ten oil producers, however, the vast majority of that is in one emirate – Abu Dhabi. Following massive finds in Abu Dhabi, oil was eventually discovered in Dubai’s territorial waters in the mid-1960s – only in much smaller quantities. Some estimates suggest that the city will run out of oil in no more than a decade or two. Necessity drives innovation and while its Emirati neighbours were busy drilling, Dubai had to play to its other strengths to shore up its economy. In the days before oil, the city’s rulers leveraged its strategic geographical location on the Gulf, close to Iran and India, to make the city into a trading hub. Throughout the 1960s, Dubai was the centre of a thriving gold trade. When oil was finally discovered in 1966, the then Sheikh Rashid accelerated existing plans to develop the city’s infrastructure.

On 2 December 1971, the United Arab Emirates was officially formed with a uniform currency, the UAE dirham, coming two years later. The city continued to grow during the 1970s due to a combination of oil revenue and trade, however as the black gold began to show early signs of running dry, the government turned its attention to building an economy that would outlast it. Throughout the 1980s, Dubai became fully established as a trading hub and logistics centre, boasting the world’s largest man-made port, an upgraded airport and the Dubai World Trade Centre, at the time the largest building in the region. By the time the 1990s rolled around, the stage for economic diversification had already been set to move away from oil and into other areas – luxury tourism and business travel being the key ones. In 2013, the Dubai government launched its 2020 Tourism Strategy, which aimed for 20 million visitors a year by 2020. This has since been expanded to its present goal of 23-25 million visitors by 2025. The need to diversify was also made even more apparent during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Real estate formed a major part of Dubai’s economy and still does to this day. However, in the wake of the crisis and the ensuing property crash, the city had to be bailed out with a $10 billion loan from Abu Dhabi. The aid from the capital was not forgotten and the following year, at the unveiling of the world’s tallest building, it was announced that

the 828-metre high Burj Dubai would henceforth be known as the Burj Khalifa, in honour of the UAE President and ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, as a gesture of appreciation for the economic lifeline. The 2010s saw a period of relative stability for the city, despite its large debt to its wealthier neighbour. Tourism boomed and the city kept expanding into the glitzy neon tourist playground it is today. But as 2020 came around, bringing the Covid-19 pandemic with it, Dubai was hit hard as a result. With no more tourists arriving, stories of another possible bailout began circulating, though this seemingly never came to pass. The tourism sector is starting to revitalise there but the pandemic made apparent the fragility of an economy heavily reliant on international travel. The city’s current ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and his government are keen to transform the city into a global tech hub. Last week, in the run-up to the country’s 50th birthday celebrations, the government announced a raft of new legislation which it says will help keep pace with the developmental achievements of the UAE and reflect the country’s future aspirations. The package also includes several amendments to existing laws with the aim of developing the legislative structure in various sectors, including investment, trade and industry, as well as commercial companies, and regulation and protection of industrial property. There are also pieces of legislation that strengthen women’s rights, gently relaxing drugs laws and sweeping changes to industrial property rights and copyright law - the latter being specifically aimed at drawing foreign tech investment directly, and the former softening the country’s image internationally. By making Dubai an attractive place for startups in the rapidly growing tech sector, the city hopes to establish itself anew. The focus on rights for women is not only attractive to a domestic audience but also to an international one, especially in the famously diverse tech world, which it is hoping to court. While some issues have a long time to wait before they are even discussed, let alone reformed - LGBT+ rights being something of an elephant in the room here - the emirate is historically wellplaced to be at the forefront of the UAE’s economic diversification and digital transformation. Industry Europe 51


NEWS

New developments in Transportation

The EU's plans to clean up urban mobility by Ash Jones

T

he European Commission has unveiled plans to clean up and modernise urban transport within the bloc as it attempts to reach the targets laid out by the EU Green Deal and Fit for 55 package. New schemes will be put in place to increase connectivity, shift passengers and freight to rail and inland waterways, support the rollout of electric vehicle charging points, build alternative fuelling infrastructure and place a stronger focus on sustainable urban mobility with a goal of slashing emissions by 90%. Known as the EU's Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) system that connects 424 cities with ports, airports and railway terminals through the use of railways, inland waterways and short-sea routes. The EU suggests the changes could significantly shorten public transport routes. For example, a trip from Copenhagen to Hamburg could be shaved down to 2.5 hours through the TEN-T system, opposed to the 4.5 hours it takes now. “Europe's green and digital transition will bring big changes to the ways we move around", EU Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans said. Today's proposals set European mobility on track for a sustainable future: faster European rail connections with easy-to-find tickets and improved passenger rights, support for cities to increase and improve public transport and infrastructure for walking and cycling, and making the best possible use of solutions for smart and efficient driving", he added. The proposal lays out frameworks by which travel will be made more efficient on the continent, such as implementing high-speed rail that can travel up to 160 km/h (99.4 mph) by 2040, while ensuring canals and river routes always ensure

optimal travelling conditions, such as ensuring steady water levels or minimising obstructions, for a minimum number of days per year. Plans exist to double access to high-speed rail by the end of the decade, with a view to tripling access by 2050. Brussels also hopes access to high-speed rail will encourage EU citizens to travel abroad on trips, which could help stimulate the travel economies of member states, particularly those whose economies depend on tourism. It also calls for more transhipment terminals, improved handling capacity at freight terminals, reduced waiting times at rail border crossings, longer trains to shift more freight onto cleaner transport modes, and the option for lorries to be transported by train network-wide. The proposal also requires all 424 major cities along the TEN-T network to develop "Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans" to promote zero-emission mobility and to increase and improve public transport and infrastructure for walking and cycling. Many of these frameworks have a preliminary deadline of 2040 to ensure the bloc's 2050 climate goals of becoming completely carbon-neutral are met. EU Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean said the bloc is looking to make EU transport "more efficient, safer and cleaner" for everyone. The cities linked by EU infrastructure are our economic powerhouses", she added. "But they must also be lean cities – for inhabitants and commuters". The Commission is also proposing an update to the 2010 ITS Directive, adapting to the emergence of new road mobility options, mobility apps and connected and automated mobility, which should ensure certain valuable road, travel and traffic data are easily and readily available in a digital format. By 2030, the bloc is also planning to run 15 cross-border pilots to test the Action Plan's approach, ahead of the new TEN-T requirements being implemented.

Air travel optimism as flights predicted to return to near 2019 levels by Steven Gislam

T

wo years after Covid-19 first struck, the panEuropean aviation organisation Eurocontrol has begun 2022 with a note of cautious optimism for the sector and a prediction that air traffic is on track to recover to 70-90% of 2019 levels. Published earlier this week, the Eurocontrol Think Paper is based on the latest data to provide a summary of the key indicators for European aviation in 2021, and the organisation's expectations for how the sector's recovery will continue in 2022. Last year saw a "partial but crucially sustained traffic recovery in Europe", Eurocontrol said. January 2020 saw just 36% of 2019 air traffic levels, but as the year went on, figures recovered steadily as a result of mass vaccination programmes, as well as the EU Digital Covid Certificate. The high point of the summer was on August 27, when traffic reached 70% of the previous year with 26,773 flights. Holiday flights continued into the autumn and traffic rose to 81% in late October. Despite Omicron 52 Industry Europe

and the additional health and safety requirements introduced by many countries, air traffic in December reached 78% of 2019 levels. Overall, annual traffic across Europe's aviation network in 2021 reached 56% of 2019 levels. Eurocontrol said that it did not expect the growth to unravel in 2022 and that air traffic was on course to recover to 70-90% of 2019 levels by the end of the year.

Nonetheless, it pointed out that the financial and sociological impact across the network in 2021 remained "huge" and "not vastly better than the first year of the pandemic" with €18.5 billion in European airline losses, 4.9 million fewer flights and 1.5 billion fewer passengers. Eamonn Brennan, Director General, Eurocontrol, said: "The situation remains right now enormously challenging. Traffic may currently stand at 78% of 2019 levels, but the unfolding Omicron situation is pushing many of Europe’s top airlines to cut capacity in January by up to 30% – and in parallel, we are starting to see some flights cancelled due to Covid-19 exposure among crew members. "Nevertheless, I remain confident that 2022 will build on the resilience aviation showed in 2021 to a crisis that had paralysed economies the year before. As soon as the situation improves, we expect to see a rapid rebound to bring European aviation a lot closer to 2019 traffic levels. At the same time, this year we must urgently accelerate our plans to make aviation sustainable, building back better with major investment in new technological solutions." For more info, visit: www.eurocontrol.int


TRANSPORTATION NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS Britishvolt secures £1.7bn for Blyth battery gigafactory by Steven Gislam

U

K Battery startup Britishvolt has managed to raise £1.7 billion (€2.03 billion) in funds from investors to build its battery gigafactory in the North East of England, which stands to be the first of its kind in the country. Aside from £100 million delivered to the firm through the UK government's Automotive Transformation Fund, much of the remaining cash was gathered through investors Tritax and Abrdn. Originally scheduled for construction in Cambois, Northumberland, when the gigafactory was announced two years ago, the location has since been confirmed to be Blyth, also in Northumberland. Current plans estimate the factory could commence operations in 2024. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng described the investment as a "major boost for Britain" and a "resounding vote of confidence in the North East economy". "Britishvolt’s planned gigafactory will not only enable the UK to fully capture the benefits of a booming electric vehicle market, but will bring thousands of highly-skilled, well-paid jobs to the North East", he added. The UK government was originally going to invest £200 million into the site, but funding was set back to allow for investment into other projects.

With the world in the grips of a semiconductor shortage that may not dissipate until 2023, increasing domestic production on EV batteries is becoming a matter of practicality for leading economies to allow production to resume at pre-pandemic levels and to reduce reliance on eastern suppliers with global supply chains still suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. The UK also vowed to ban fully petrol and diesel cars by 2030 and is thus on a tight deadline to make EVs affordable. Britishvolt's chair Peter Rolton has said he sees this as the beginning of a battery ecosystem for the UK. He also told the BBC's Today programme that he would like "all of the new jobs at the plant to go to people living in the area", with the company planning to set up a training site in Ashington. “This announcement is a major step in putting the UK at the forefront of the global energy transition, unlocking huge private sector investment that will develop the technology and skills required for Britain to play its part in the next industrial revolution", he said in a statement. Rolton claims as many as 5,000 new jobs could be created through the battery supply chain. "Britishvolt’s plan to build a new gigafactory in Northumberland is a strong testament to the skilled

workers of the North East and the UK’s place at the helm of the global green industrial revolution", UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued in a statement. "Backed by government and private sector investment, this new battery factory will boost the production of electric vehicles in the UK, whilst levelling up opportunity and bringing thousands of new highly-skilled jobs to communities in our industrial heartlands." The North East of England is set to become something of a hub for the automotive sector. Automaker Nissan's plans to turn its Sunderland plant into a hub for electric vehicle production - including domestic battery production - was given the green light back in September. The firm was hit hard by the pandemic and vowed to focus on domestic production in the UK, including sourcing and producing its own parts. Visit: www.britishvolt.com

Bentley to go all-electric by 2030, first BEV by 2025 by Ash Jones

B

entley is set to receive its first battery-electric model by 2025 alongside a £2.5 billion (€2.99 billion) sustainability pledge for the next decade that could see the UK manufacturer become the latest luxury car brand to make the switch to greener engines. Set to be developed at the company's plant in Crewe, Cheshire, the rollout will be followed by a commitment to producing exclusively electric vehicles by 2030, as part of its Beyond100 plans. Billed as the "boldest plan" in Bentley's long history, the company has made the laid out plans to become carbon neutral across its entire supply chain over the next eight years. "Our aim is to become the benchmark not just for luxury cars or sustainable credentials but the entire scope of our operations. Securing production of our first BEV in Crewe is a milestone moment for Bentley, and the UK, as we plan for a long-term sustainable future in Crewe", Bentley's Chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark revealed in a statement. This fits in the British government's purview, which has vowed to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles in the UK by 2030, with plans to ban fossil-fuel powered trucks by 2040.

Other automakers, such as BMW, have already laid out plans to be ready in the event of such bans. Volvo's CEO supported the UK's ban and has suggested such legislation may be necessary to encourage the shift away from fossil fuels for the transport sector. “Today is arguably the most important day in Bentley’s modern history, and is a testament to the hard work and skill of our colleagues in Crewe", said Peter Bosch, a board member for Bentley Motors. The company has allegedly already "transformed" the Crewe plant to operate at zero emissions and is currently undergoing plans to "go zero with water, waste and other environmental impacts until 2030", in a notion they're labelling the "Dream Factory" concept. "Unique craftsmanship, customer interaction and employee experience will be enhanced by digital tech, higher flexibility and new ways of personalisation. We will develop the best of Crewe into the future benchmark of luxury car manufacturing", Bosch added. Bentley is expected to make more announcements at a press conference at 4 pm on Friday. Visit: www.bentleymedia.com Industry Europe 53


TRANSPORTATION NEWS

INDUSTRYNEWS

New developments in the Transportation

UK road freight prices surge to highest in 3 years by Steven Gislam

A

newly released industry index has revealed that last month a perfect storm of inflation and Brexit sent road freight prices soaring, with UK businesses also being warned of further supply chain disruption in 2022, with new EU custom checks on imports and Omicron causing economic strain. The average price-per-mile for haulage and courier vehicles has increased by 5.3 points between November and December, according to the TEG Road Transport Price Index. After a 3.3-point drop between September and November, the average has reached its highest level since January 2019. The surge came during a month when inflation hit a 10-year high, which resulted in the first interest-rate rise in three years. The rise in petrol prices is a big factor driving this inflation – as well as the hike in charges for road freight services. According to ONS figures, petrol hit a highest-ever price of 145.8 pence per litre in November 2021, compared to 112.6 pence per litre a year earlier – a rise of almost 30%. The TEG index also shows that year-on-year, the average price-per-mile for haulage vehicles increased by 30.3 points in December 2021. Courier vehicle prices have also reached a peak since January 2019 - with a 16 point year-on-year increase in December 2021. Moving into 2022, retail experts are predicting a slump in economic growth, with Omicron leading to reduced spending on hospitality and in-person services, and more people buying goods. This is expected to

cause continued strain on supply chains, which could hit the food industry particularly hard. The sector is striving to adapt to our post-Brexit world, but is suffering labour shortages that are endangering food security. Businesses faced a new challenge as soon as the New Year began: full customs checks on EU imports to the UK were introduced on 1 January. As well as disruption at the border, this change could also lead to costs incurred through non-compliance. Van drivers will also come up against more bureaucracy. From May 2022, they will need a new licence to enter the EU. Small traders – such as couriers and importers of wine or antiques – could incur costs of up to £1,100. Lyall Cresswell, CEO of Transport Exchange Group, said: “This December surge was expected, thanks to historical TEG data, not to mention it being a period of extreme demand for haulage and courier services. “Brexit and Covid-19 continue to be the two main headaches for the road freight industry. Brexit has not only caused many drivers to leave the industry: it’s also resulted in much more red tape and delays whenever drivers cross borders. And further changes in 2022 will require businesses and logistics industry professionals to adapt yet again. We could also see more delays in recruiting new drivers as the new Omicron variant leads to more people quarantining.” Kirsten Tisdale, director of logistics consultants Aricia Limited and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, said: “What we’re seeing with the TEG Index is a combination of a normal seasonal high, superimposed over driver availability and other cost issues. The uplift from November to December at the end of 2021 is not dissimilar as a percentage to that in 2019 but starting from a much higher base. “Haulage continues to track at a somewhat higher level when compared with the courier element, and we know from Logistics UK’s recent Skills & Employment Report 2021 that the latest figures show there are now fewer HGV than van drivers.” Visit: transportexchangegroup.com

Volkswagen & Bosch want to industrialise battery production by Romana Moares

V

olkswagen and Bosch have announced a partnership that aims for the two companies to become leaders in the industrialisation of battery production. The two companies plan to supply integrated battery production systems as well as on-site rampup and maintenance support for battery cell and system manufacturers. The aim is to establish cost and technology leadership in the industrialisation of battery technology and the volume production of sustainable, cutting-edge batteries. Through the “local for local” production approach, this will also be a step towards the objective of carbon-neutral mobility. In Europe alone, the Volkswagen Group plans to build six cell factories by 2030. The companies aim to supply the entire range of processes and components needed for the largescale manufacture of battery cells and systems. 54 Industry Europe

In a press release, Volkswagen said that for both partners, this alliance was a further step towards playing leading roles in the world of eMobility and that the partnership will draw on complementary areas of expertise. "While Volkswagen is an accomplished atscale automaker and is on its way to becoming a major battery cell manufacturer, Bosch has excellent know-how in factory automation and systems integration," the release said. Thomas Schmall, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group, said that Europe has the unique chance to become a global battery powerhouse in the years to come. "Volkswagen and Bosch will explore opportunities to develop and shape this novel, multibillion-euro industry in Europe. Setting out to establish a fully localised European supply chain for eMobility made in Europe certainly marks a rare opportunity in business history."

Rolf Najork, Member of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch Group and Chairman of the Executive Board of Bosch Rexroth, said: "Together with Volkswagen, we seek a path to industrialise production processes for battery cells with standardised equipment. "With more than 135 years of automotive experience and our proven industrialisation expertise, we want to serve the growing demand for batteries. European industry has the potential to become a technology driver for the ecological transformation of the economy." Visit: www.volkswagenag.com




Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.