Northvolt has found a new backer for setting up a battery cell production pilot plant. The Swedish Energy Agency will support the demonstration line, Northvolt Labs, in Västerås with a grant of SEK 146m. The new line precedes a planned Swedish Gigafactory.
Northvolt has been hedging plans to set up a Gigafactory in Sweden for some time. The idea has now got official backing as the Swedish Energy Agency today announced it will support the establishment of Northvolt’s first pilot line with 15 million euros.
In Kronen that makes 146 millions for the so-called Northvolt Labs. In addition to the demonstration line the new demonstrator facility will also include a research lab, will be used to qualify and industrialise products and processes together with Northvolt’s partners and customers such as Scania for example.
Northvolt’s new research centre is supposed to bring 300 to 400 jobs to Västerås and is located not far from ABB’s headquarters. Both companies signed a partnership recently.
The launch of Northvolt Labs is a key step towards the establishment of Northvolt’s large-scale lithium-ion battery factory in Skellefteå, Sweden, which will serve as the main production site and include active material preparation, cell assembly, recycling and auxiliaries once it is completed.
The plans for a Swedish Gigafactory had first been made public in October 2017, when the Swedish company that is led by former Tesla manager Peter Carlsson, had completed its search for a location to build up its battery cell production facility.
Construction works in Skellefteå are to commence in the second half of 2018. Two years later, the plant shall open with jobs for 2,000 to 2,500 employees and an initial production volume of 8 GWh per year that is to climb up to 32 GWh by 2023 (we reported).
For the initial pilot plant that precedes production, Scania as well as ABB are backing Northvolt’s initiative financially. Scania and wind energy giant Vestas will spend 10 million euros each while ABB offered initial support of an undisclosed amount.
The new grant through the Swedish government should bring the pilot plant up to speed. The Swedish Energy Agency will release its 15 million euros between now and 2023. The grant corresponds to around 20% of the supportive costs required.
Around 100 people will initially be employed at the pilot plant, excluding those in R&D. Northvolt wants to combine research with mass-scale battery production and commercialisation. A further 2,500 jobs are expected to be created at the actual production site in Skellefteå in the future.