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ENERGY

BMW and Peugeot team up for hybrid technology

The German luxury carmaker BMW and PSA Peugeot Citroen of France announced Monday they would invest €100 million ($138 million) in a joint venture to develop hybrid vehicle technology.

BMW and Peugeot team up for hybrid technology
Photo: DPA

The €100 million investment is “just to start” said Philippe Varin, Chairman PSA Peugeot Citroen’s management board, at a press conference on the eve of the Geneva motor show.

“It will be a key move for creating an European leader in hybrid technologies, it will be also a key move for creating European standards for the industry,” he said.

The companies have already collaborated for over a decade in developing engines.

BMW Peugeot Citroen Electrification, in which the two companies will hold equal stakes, will conduct research and development work outside of BMW’s home base Munich, Germany, while production will be in Mulhouse, France.

Most of the 400 initial employees to be based in the Munich area will come from the two companies, but new jobs are expected to be created in Mulhouse when the site begins operations in 2014.

“BMW Group and PSA share the same vision of the importance of hybridisation in the future,” BMW Management Board Chairman Norbert Reithofer said in a statement.

“The joint venture will enable us act more strategically and with a single, shared approach. For us, joining forces also means significant economies of scale, shared development costs, using standardised components and a faster development process.”

The German luxury carmaker BMW unveiled earlier this month its long-awaited new brand, BMW i, with two new models to be equipped with electric and hybrid drive systems from 2013.

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ENERGY

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

Sweden's government has proposed a new law which will remove local municipalities' power to block wind parks in the final stages of the planning process, as part of a four-point plan to speed up the expansion of wind power.

Sweden to stop local governments blocking wind parks in final stages

“We are doing this to meet the increased need for electricity which is going to come as a result of our green industrial revolution,” Strandhäll said at a press conference. 

“It is important to strengthen Sweden by rapidly breaking our dependence on fossil fuels, building out our energy production and restructuring our industry. The Swedish people should not be dependent on countries like Russia to drive their cars or warm their homes.”

“We are going to make sure that municipalities who say “yes” to wind power get increased benefits,” she added in a press statement. “In addition, we are going to increase the speed with which wind power is built far offshore, which can generally neither be seen or heard from land.” 

While municipalities will retain a veto over wind power projects on their territory under the proposed new law, they will have to take their decision earlier in the planning process to prevent wind power developers wasting time and effort obtaining approvals only for the local government to block projects at the final stags. 

“For the local area, it’s mostly about making sure that those who feel that new wind parks noticeably affect their living environment also feel that they see positive impacts on their surroundings as a result of their establishment,” Strandhäll said.  “That might be a new sports field, an improved community hall, or other measures that might make live easier and better in places where wind power is established.” 

According to a report from the Swedish Energy Agency, about half of the wind projects planned since 2014 have managed to get approval. But in recent years opposition has been growing, with the opposition Moderate, Swedish Democrats, and Christian Democrat parties increasingly opposing projects at a municipal level. 

Municipalities frequently block wind park projects right at the end of the planning process following grassroots local campaigns. 

The government a month ago sent a committee report, or remiss, to the Council on Legislation, asking them to develop a law which will limit municipal vetoes to the early stages of the planning process. 

At the same time, the government is launching two inquiries. 

The first will look into what incentives could be given to municipalities to encourage them to allow wind farms on their land, which will deliver its recommendations at the end of March next year. In March, Strandhäll said that municipalities which approve wind farm projects should be given economic incentives to encourage them to accept projects on their land. 

The second will look into how to give the government more power over the approvals process for wind projects under Sweden’s environmental code. This will deliver its recommendations at the end of June next year. 

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