Swedish Northvolt has secured the environmental permit for the establishment of Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery cell factory. The ground has been broken in Swedish Skellefteå whilst works on their lab in Västerås outside of Stockholm are well underway.
++ Kindly see update below ++
Northvolt is working on two fronts. One is development and R&D in their so-called NorthvoltLab. Here the Swedes say they are developing “the world’s greenest battery” the EU has called for. Scania is also on board as they reportedly want to develop batteries for heavy vehicles.
Large scale production though is to happen up north, in Skellefteå, that will home the Swedish version of a Gigafactory a la Tesla. Here in Umea, Northvolt has now acquired all required permits to start building their battery factory on European terms.
The first phase of the construction, primarily ground preparations, is set for completion during the second half of 2019 and is financed within the current funding. The first part of the factory is to be completed in late 2020. Material is reportedly to come from Marubeni.
The battery facility will then produce eight GWh of cell capacity annually. The full factory will be ready in 2023 and produce at least 32 GWh a year once it reaches full-scale capacity.
Since its launch in March 2017, Northvolt has found support from heavyweights in the electric mobility and related industries. Partners include ABB, Nemaska Lithium, Scania, SECI, Siemens, Skellefteå Kraft and Vestas for example. Northvolt has also received support from the European Investment Bank and the Swedish Energy Agency for setting up a battery factory in Europe.
The European Commission has called for a Battery Airbus repeatedly and set up the European Battery Alliance (EBA).
Meanwhile, competitors from Asia are moving to take their share. First BYD said it considered setting up cell production in Europe. Later this month, CATL followed and is reported to have chosen Erfurt as the location for their battery factory in Europe.
Update 23 April 2019: Northvolt has now received a second environmental permit from the Land and Environment Court in Umeå. The permit is an extension of the above-mentioned permit to allow operational capacity from 8 GWh to 16 GWh at the battery manufacturing facility – the latter of which represents half the final capacity of the facility. The permit has a scope encompassing operations, emissions, onsite materials and chemicals, facility effluent and safety measures.