Northvolt making ground on Gigafactory in Sweden
The Swedish company Northvolt, led by former Tesla manager Peter Carlsson, says it can generate around 1.6 billion euros of the four billion euros needed to build its Gigafactory in Skellefteå, Sweden.
Carlsson revealed the news when talking to the German newspaper Welt. Moreover, the first Gigafactory, so-called due to its planned capacity of 32 GWh worth of battery cells, may be just the start. The manager can imagine another five to seven battery cell production facilities in Europe. “We see the market in Europe at least 200-gigawatt hours in 2025,” he is quoted. The prerequisite for any location is a sufficient supply of electricity from renewable energies, above all from hydropower.
But first to Sweden. Here Carlsson says that so far, they can generate around 1.6 billion euros of the four billion euros needed with a combination of debt and equity and a Northvolt spokesperson has confirmed this when speaking to electrive. With this investment, Northvolt will be able to begin their Gigafactory planned for Skellefteå, about 700 kilometres away from the Swedish capital, Stockholm. “We have ideal conditions there,” said Carlsson, who values the fact that the region has cheap renewable energy and access to the necessary battery materials such as nickel, cobalt and lithium.
Initially, Northvolt’s Skellefteå plant should have an annual cell production of around 8 GWh. The aim is for the plant to expand further so that in 2023 the capacity is raised to 32 GWh, which would be close to the planned level of the Tesla Gigafactory in the Nevada desert.
While Tesla has the support of Panasonic, Northvolt too has gathered several industrial giants that have contributed their know-how and considerable investment to the Swedish startup. For example, the Swiss ABB group are sharing their expertise in the robotics sector, and process and energy technology and Siemens are helping in advance with software and the so-called digital twin to simulate the setup and processes in fully automated production. Both ABB and Siemens have each also invested an additional ten million euros in Northvolt. Also among the investors are the energy supplier Vattenfall and Volkswagen, through their Swedish truck subsidiary Scania.
While so far the company has not signed any contracts with OEM’s to deliver battery cells, a new technology consortium consisting of BMW, Northvolt and Umicore has been set up as well and will develop a sustainable value chain for “green batteries” reportedly.
For further battery cell production, Northvolt manager Carlsson maintains that Germany is an option, but earliest from 2024. The perspectives for a Northvolt facility in the country are appealing for a number of reasons, one of which is that “there are many potential customers from the automotive industry there, there are well-trained specialists and renowned scientific institutions that can support such a factory as a companion,” explains the entrepreneur.
Undoubtedly also appealing are the subsidies recently announced by the German government for companies and consortia for building battery plants in Germany. The German Minister for Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier, wants to turn Europe into a battery-manufacturing powerhouse in line with the EU’s will for an Airbus-like battery cell production in Europe (we reported). France is also backing the European attempt to compete with Asian suppliers who currently dominate the market.
“You just have to start a project. Then you can end up addressing big issues as a small company,” said Carlsson with regard to European challenges in battery production. In this regard, Carlsson’s experience of working with Tesla is likely to have played a role in this belief. Carlsson maintains that “we can outperform the Asians in Europe within ten years”. To this end, Northvolt is recruiting experts worldwide, most recently in Japan and South Korea.
welt.de (original source, in German)
Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.