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LONDON/DOHA: The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) is investing £85 million for a 10 percent stake in technology start-up Rolls-Royce SMR Limited that will produce low- carbon nuclear power with small modular reactors (SMRs).

The business has now received £490 million in funding from QIA, Rolls-Royce Group (RR), BNF Resources UK, Exelon Generation plus a grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

RR has been a reactor plant designer since the start of the UK nuclear submarine programme in the 1950s. The new company will use standard nuclear energy technology already replicated in 400 reactors worldwide.

The new SMRs will have the capacity to generate 470mw, equivalent to more than 150 onshore wind turbines, occupy a tenth of a conventional nuclear generation site and be able to power nearly one million homes.

“QIA is investing in the energy transition and funding the technologies that enable low-carbon electricity generation,” said CEO Mansoor bin Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud. “We will continue to seek out investments that align with our mandate to deliver long-term value for future generations through responsible sustainable investments.”

RR says the new business is expected to create 40,000 regional UK jobs by 2050 and generate £52 billion in economic benefit, with 90 percent of an SMR power plant built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80 percent delivered by a UK supply chain. The company says much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the north of the country where there is significant existing nuclear expertise.

GOTHENBURG/MUNICH/STUTTGART: Volvo Group, Daimler Truck and the Traton Group are forming a €500 million joint venture to build an European public charging network for electric-powered trucks and coaches from 2022.

The plan is to install and operate at least 1,700 high-performance green energy charging points on and close to highways plus logistic and destination points by 2027.

The three manufacturers say their plan addresses the need for a network to support truck operators with their transition to CO2-neutral transport solutions, especially in heavy-duty long-distance trucking.

Battery electric vehicle fleet operators will be able to leverage both fast charging tailored to the 45-minute mandatory rest period in Europe as well as overnight charging.

“We are going from words to action, and this planned joint venture with Daimler Truck and the Traton Group is an important step in shaping a world we want to live in,” commented Volvo Group president Martin Lundstedt. “Innovative partnerships like these will enable the much-needed change that will benefit our customers — and the entire industry.”

In May this year the European Automobile Manufacturers Association published a report calling for up to 15,000 high-performance public and destination charging points by no later than 2025, and up to 50,000 high-performance charging points by no later than 2030.


CHICAGO: United Airlines has invested in UK-based, hydrogen-electric engine developer ZeroAvia as part of a plan to retrofit as many as 50 United Express jet aircraft from 2028.

The manufacturer is developing hydrogen-based technology that uses a fuel cell to power an electric motor to replace a conventional jet engine.

The Initial engine market is a 500-mile range, 10–20 seat aircraft currently used for passenger transport or package delivery.

The first commercial flight using a 19-seat aircraft is scheduled in 2024 between London and Rotterdam The Hague airport.

United joins existing investors Alaska Air Group and British Airways in the new US$35 million round together with Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, AP Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Horizons Ventures, Summa Equity, and Shell Ventures.

The new funding will be used to develop an engine for 40-80 seat turboprop aircraft by 2026 and regional jets by 2028.

"Hydrogen-electric engines are one of the most promising paths to zero-emission air travel for smaller aircraft, and this investment will keep United out in front on this important emerging technology," said United CEO Scott Kirby.

Founder and CEO of ZeroAvia Val Miftakhov added: "The United Express routes powered by hydrogen-electric aircraft will [enable] large numbers of passengers to take zero-emission flights well within this decade."

The new funding brings total investment in ZeroAvia to US$115 million and partnerships with Alaska Airlines, Rose Cay, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, ASL Aviation Holdings, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Regional Jet division and Rotterdam the Hague Airport.

The company has already secured experimental certificates for its two prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA and is supported by grants from the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK.

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