Monday, July 24, 2017

Denmark Now Has More Electric Car Charging Docks Than Petrol Stations — But Will They Be Used?

Via Business Insider:

The number of electric car charging docks across Denmark have overtaken the amount of petrol stations, finds a new report from the Danish Energy Association.

With more than 1300 charging pods, E.ON is by far the biggest provider in Denmark. The company acquired a 770-station strong charging network from U.S.-based operator Better Place after it went bankrupt in 2013. Moreover, the German utility giant recently launched a mobile charging solution with parking app Easypark, which enables customers to use their phone when charging.

But despite all the flourishing electric vehicle infrastructure, the prospects for Denmark catching up with Norway in terms of EV-adoption look bleak right now. The country's EV-sales have plummeted after the Danish government decided to cut back subsidies for electric vehicles.

So far in 2017, only 182 electric cars have been sold in Denmark overall, and just 17 of those sales have been to private consumers, according to The Copenhagen Post. That’s a steep decline from the 4.605 sold in 2015 (albeit a sales spike that ensued in anticipation of the subsidy cutbacks).

There is little doubt that electric vehicles will become the norm in the next decade, as evidenced by Volvo's commitment to phase out conventional car engines. But whether or not government shoulds use taxpayer money to make that future arrive faster, remains a point of contention.

The Danish government miscalculated its attempt to expose EV-makers to market forces, as it's now revisiting its policies in order to smooth out the transition — and consequently, to make all those charging stations more relevant again.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Finnair Was Named The Best Airline In Northern Europe For The 8th Consecutive Year

Via Business Insider:

After holding the title over the past seven years, it should not come as a surprise that Finnair has once again been named Northern Europe’s best airline at the World Airline Awards. The award is based on a customer satisfaction survey organized by Skytrax, comprising 325 airlines and 19 million survey participants.

It may actually be misrepresenting to limit Finnair’s prestige to Northern Europe. The airline consistently performs well also on the global scene. For example, Finnair has been named one of the safest airlines in the world, and amongst the most punctual. Also, last year AirHelp found Finnair to be one of the ten best airlines in the world, based on quality performance, delay time and claim processing. The same ranking found Norwegian Air Shuttle and Icelandair to be amongst the ten worst airlines in the world – which may be reason to say that ‘being the best in Northern Europe’ kind of misses the point.

High performance is no reason for Finnair to get lax though. The airline is putting special emphasis on improving the passenger experience by developing its digital services. Earlier this year, Finnair participated in a trial of face-recognition check-in technology at Helsinki airport (which incidentally is one of the 10 best airports in Europe) in collaboration with airport operator Finavia. This year Finnair also became the first airline to accept the Chinese digital payment service Alipay onboard its planes, also in conjunction with the adoption of the technology at Helsinki airport. All long-distance flights by Finnair now also offer its Nordic Sky Wi-Fi service. It’s clear that being an innovator is part of the airline's strategy to survive in the ever more competitive space.

“Digital development is one of our central strategic goals, but we’re continuously improving all aspects of the customer experience, like, for example, our collaborations with high-profile cooks in business class on long-distance flights, and the improvement of our lounge experience through new partnerships”, says Piia Karhu, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Finnair.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Finnish Innovators Have Invented A New Material To Wrap Up The Packaging Market – No Plastic, No Harmful Chemicals And Completely Recyclable

Via Business Insider:

Kotkamills has developed a new paperboard material that can be totally recycled after use. The material is water- and greaseproof, but that is achieved without using plastics, and it also does not contain harmful fluorochemicals. Packaging for food and drinks normally uses polyethylene coating to achieve the same features, which makes recycling difficult and expensive, so waste board is usually incinerated.

Kotkamills, based in the southern Finnish coastal town of Kotka, has developed a chemical combination, which changes the paperboard’s properties to make it naturally resistant to grease and liquids – at least long enough for its use by consumers. The company’s coffee cups were recently tested by YLE and were found able to hold hot and soft drinks for more than two days.

The resistance even worked for alcoholic beverages, though only for a couple of hours. But YLE pointed out that 39% of all disposable paper cups on the market are only able to contain spirits for a few hours – and that’s still more than enough for the overwhelming majority of consumers.

The new coating is, needless to say, a closely guarded secret. Kotkamills CEO Markku Hämäläinen revealed that he and a colleague developed the chemical mixture to form a coating that combines the proofing needed whilst the product is being manufactured with seams that keep together and do not tear or leak when being used.

The end product is totally recyclable after the ink has been removed during the pulping process and involves no fluorine compounds whatsoever. The quality is high enough that the recycled pulp can even be made into copy-grade paper, as the paperboard contains a large amount of short fibre.

The new packaging product, marketed under Kotkamills’ AEGLE brand, has already received certification and orders from Germany, Norway, UK as well as Finland.

“It’s mostly folding box board for consumer products such as packaging for medicines, cosmetics and alcohol”, Hämäläinen says, “Though a combination of folding box board and barrier board is also used for food packaging such as chocolate and frozen fish”.

Although Hämäläinen cannot name potential customers for the cup stock, it is whispered that major brand owners such as McDonald’s and Starbucks have shown interest in Kotkamills’ ISLA-brand paper cup, which awaits final certification after having passed thorough testing.

“Now we will start marketing the cups and I am sure orders will come fast as the brands are eagerly waiting to use it as soon as the necessary qualifications have been granted - by August at the latest”, he told Business Insider Nordic.

“Fluorochemicals are still widely used in fast food packaging, even though studies have shown them to be unhealthy and may cause cancers,” Hämäläinen, “Our products are moisture-resistant without presenting a health hazard”.

Kotkamills’ new main owner, Finnish private equity MB Funds, was behind the €170 million ($196 million) conversion of a board machine last year as part of a €210 million upgrade of the whole Kotka plant. With 400.000 tons in annual capacity “There is more than enough to satisfy European annual demand of a maximum of 300.000 tons, some of which do not need plastic-free quality for all uses, so we will target the USA, which is much bigger”.

Hämäläinen is confident of the new products’ success. Green should turn into gold as there are no similar rival products, neither in folding board packaging nor disposable cups.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Xi Wraps Up Three-Day Hong Kong Trip

Via Xinhuanet:

President Xi Jinping ended his three-day trip to Hong Kong Saturday after attending celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, and the inauguration of the fifth-term Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.

He also inspected the special administrative region.