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Sweden plans to donate 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to India

Sweden plans to donate 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to India via the U.N.-backed COVAX, an initiative devised to give countries access to coronavirus vaccines regardless of their wealth.

The Scandinavian country’s International Development Cooperation Minister Per Olsson Fridh announced it Monday on Swedish broadcaster SVT, adding “we see how the pandemic is raging around the world. People are dying, poverty is spreading, and children are still not back at school.”

“We need to do everything we can to face this pandemic and fight it across the world.”

The donation will have no impact on the rollout in Sweden which has decided to only administer the

AstraZeneca

shots to people 65 and over.

The country’s vaccine coordinator Richard Bergstrom said there are enough spare vaccines that Swedes can give away, adding “This is just a million … we actually have another 4 or 5 million more of Astra Zeneca’s vaccine that we can share later.”

Sweden may rope in Birlas for joint project on smart textiles

MUMBAI: Sweden is looking for a joint project with the Aditya Birla Group in the area of smart textiles as part of their effort to increase bilateral trade, a senior Swedish government official said.

"We are having discussions for a joint project in the area of smart textiles and we had discussions on this with the Aditay Birla Group. Additionally, we are also exploring areas for collaboration in the dairy and food safety areas in India," Swedish minister for enterprises & innovation and rural affairs Sven-Erik Bucht told reporters here.

The minister said if the talks fructify a joint venture between Swedish company Domsjo and the Birlas along with the two governments will be inked.

Sweden is investing heavily in developing textiles made from sustainable raw materials as it seeks to support a globally successful textile industry, he said, adding he visited Birla Group’s textile research application development centre at Kharach in Gujarat yesterday.

"The prime aim of this visit is to boost development of smart textiles using VSF, cellulosic fibre and pulp as an alternative to cotton and hence the Birla group is a natural fit with its easily blendable cellulosic fibre," he said.

It can be noted that the Birlas is a pioneer and the world’s largest manufacturer of viscose staple fibre (VSF) which is a man-made bio-degradable fibre with characteristics akin to cotton.

Calling for a collective approach to address the climate change challenges, the minister said Sweden we would like to share their experience and ideas about developing an ecosystem based on a circular bio-economy that will build a better environment.

His visit is a follow-up on the recent joint statement by Prime Minister Modi and his Swedish counterpart Stefan Löfvén in the areas of innovation and research and also to increase the volume of bilateral trade. It is also a follow-up on the make-in-India event in Stockholm organised by the commerce and industry ministry.

Sweden’s air purifier firm Blueair enters India

NEW DELHI: Sweden-based air purifier firm Blueair today launched its operations in India after testing the market for few years and expects to capture 15 per cent of the total market share in the country in three years.

“We have officially launched our India operations through a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company. Before launch, we tested the market in terms of demand and air quality. The aim behind Blueair’s launch in India is to provide exceptional indoor air cleaning performance for consumers and business buyers at competitive prices,” Blueair Business Head in India Vijay Kannan told PTI.

He further said: “India will be a fast growing market for air purifiers in the coming years. We are looking at capturing 15 per cent market share in three years.”

The company will import products from its plants in China and Sweden to sell in India. It has three manufacturing plants — in China, the US and Sweden — in the world.

Blueair’s air purifiers are priced in the range of Rs 40,000 to 95,000. The company’s products are sold in 50 countries around the world.

Blueair on expansion spree in India, aims to feature in top 3

NEW DELHI: Sweden-based air purifier firm Blueair, which aims to be among the top three in the Indian market within 3 years, is doubling its sales network by adding up to 12 stores this fiscal.

The company would add Kolkata and Chennai in its sales network this year apart from six other metros – Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmadabad and Pune where it is present.

“We are planning to have up to 24 stores by the end of FY 2015-16. Blueair would add around 10 to 12 stores this fiscal,” Blueair Business Head in India Vijay Kannan told PTI.

Presently, Blueair has around 13 stores in six cities.

The company is focusing on expats, NRIs, embassies and affluent class people, who are comparatively more conscious about the benefits of clean air.

“To expand our market share, we would focus on network expansion, product innovation and providing latest technology,” he added.

Blueair, which is a premium luxury brand, sells four models priced in the range of Rs 40,000 to Rs 95,000.

“Our products are more expensive from others as we focus on CADR (clean air delivery rate). This year, we are targeting to sell around 3,000 units,” Kannan said.

At present, Blueair is importing its products from Sweden. It has total three manufacturing plants in Sweden, China and US.

Mercedes-Benz has a range of engines to power up growth in India

German luxury-car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz said it would bring in a range of technologies, from upgraded internal combustion engine to plugin hybrid and battery electric vehicles, to India to cater to local requirements.

The company expects demand in India for all types of powertrains, Mercedes-Benz India managing director Martin Schwenk said.

“So, we will have the classical combustion engine, the diesel engine, plug-in hybrids (and) electric vehicles in the market. For sure, there will be growth specifically (for) battery electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrids. However, right now, demand is very low.” The automaker has adopted a different powertrain strategy from Swedish luxury-car maker Volvo, which has said it would phase-out combustion-only models in its bid to curb pollution.

Globally, Mercedes-Benz is working on bringing on road 10 electric vehicles by 2022. The company is in the process of evaluating which of these models make sense for the Indian market.

Given the high tax structure on luxury vehicles here, the company is studying if it would be viable to locally assemble electric vehicles. Schwenk said that there were import duty advantages for having CKD (completely knockeddown units) vehicles assembled locally, but still the company would have to have reasonable demand to do that.

Mercedes-Benz globally is expecting 15-25% of its sales to come from electrified vehicles by 2025. In India, it feels sales volume of electric vehicles would be on the lower side of the range given inadequate infrastructure.

Schwenk said the recent move by the government to allow luxurycar companies to import 2,500 vehicles annually without requiring them to be homologated in India was helpful and the company might use the route to launch electric vehicles here.

“We will be able to bring in some models where we might not have so much sales. Also, time to market we can reduce. Since the entire electric portfolio is in development at the moment at the global level, it will help us to get quicker to the market using existing homologation for India,” said Schwenk.

Mercedes-Benz India, which sold 15,538 vehicles last year, said its sales volume would likely decline on a high base in the first quarter of the current calendar year. But demand would revive gradually after the elections, in the second half of 2019, the India chief said.

“We have traditionally seen in the history of election years, that before elections the development of the passenger car market is a little bit muted. And, after elections, when frameworks are clear, governments are set, new policies start to get framed, we see a stronger second half,” said Schwenk. “And, we would expect a similar development this year.”

Organic food good for you, but not for planet

LONDON: Organic food has a bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed food, due to the greater areas of land required, according to a study. Researchers from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden developed a new method for assessing the climate impact from land-use, and used this, along with other methods, to compare organic and conventional food production.

The results, published in the journal ‘Nature’, show that organic food can result in much greater emissions.

“Our study shows that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50% bigger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas,” said Stefan Wirsenius, an associate professor at Chalmers.

“For some foodstuffs, there is an even bigger difference — for example, with organic Swedish winter wheat the difference is closer to 70%,” Wirsenius said.

The reason why organic food is so much worse for the climate is that the yields per hectare are much lower, primarily because fertilisers are not used. To produce the same amount of organic food, you therefore need a much bigger area of land, researchers said.

“The greater land-use in organic farming leads indirectly to higher carbon dioxide emissions, thanks to deforestation,” said Wirsenius. “If we use more land for the same amount of food, we contribute indirectly to bigger deforestation elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Even organic meat and dairy products are — from a climate point of view — worse than their conventionally produced equivalents, researchers said.

Since organic meat and milk production uses organic feed-stock, it also requires more land than conventional production, they said. “This means that the findings on organic wheat and peas in principle also apply to meat and milk products,” Wirsenius said.

Volvo, SSAB plan first fossil-free steel trucks on road to carbon neutrality

Swedish truck maker AB Volvo and steel maker SSAB have signed an agreement to produce the world’s first vehicles made of fossil-free steel, the companies said on Thursday.

Volvo plans to start production this year of prototype vehicles and components from steel made by SSAB using hydrogen produced from renewable energy. Small-scale serial production will start in 2022.

“This is an important step on the road to completely climate-neutral transport,” Volvo CEO Martin Lundstedt said.

The vehicles and machines will be emissions-free in operation, Volvo said, without specifying how they would run, while adding the company is reviewing all the materials used in their construction to eliminate anything based on fossil fuels.

It will be sourcing steel from green steel venture HYBRIT – which is owned by SSAB, Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall and Swedish miner LKAB.

Last August, it began test operations in Lulea, Sweden, to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with fossil-free electricity and hydrogen, which in turn is produced using only renewable power.

China‘s Geely Holding, which has a stake in AB Volvo, owns Volvo Cars, which it has said will be fully electric by 2030.

Sweden to help India in building climate neutral smart city

Swedish companies will help to build India’s first climate neutral city in Gurgaon.

During Swedish royal family’s visit to India, Gurgaon based developer, M3M, signed an agreement with the Swedish company to develop 165 acre smart city project which will attract a foreign investment of around US$ 2 billion.

According to Will Sibia, Head, International Business and Strategy, Sweco AB, circular economy, inclusive growth and climate resilience and mitigation will be its key focus areas. It will also focus on water conservation, reusability and 100% waste recycling.

Sweco AB is a European engineering consultancy company, active in the fields of construction, architecture, and environmental engineering.

“This will be a mixed use development with both residential and commercial development. The development will be in-line with UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement,” said Pankaj Bansal, Director, M3M Group.

The smart city will take 7-10 years to complete and will look for foreign investments for different services.

“We will act as system integrators both in terms of finance and technology. We will bring in the best in class knowledge and best in class technology and the best practices globally to create an eco-governance structure to create India’s first carbon neutral city,” said Sibia.