Battery factory to cut Europe's reliance on imports
A loan guaranteed by the InnovFin-EU finance for innovators initiative under the EU's Horizon 2020 programme and extended by the European Investment Bank is enabling Swedish company Northvolt to build a battery demonstration plant. The plant will help to reduce Europe's dependence on oil and imported batteries.
© alexlmx #141276327, 2018. Source: fotolia.com
In 2014, the EU produced just 2 % of the worlds batteries and the rise of electric vehicles is making it increasingly reliant on imports from countries like China, Japan and South Korea.
Batteries are a strategic component of European competitiveness and to capture a new European market worth EUR 250 billion annually as of 2025, we need to act fast, says European Commission Vice-President responsible for energy policy, Maroš Šefčovič.
Northvolt is contributing to the much-needed increase in European battery production with its construction of a lithium-ion battery factory in Skellefteå, north-east Sweden, which will employ some 2 500 people. In parallel, it is using EU finance to build a demonstration plant in Västerås, near Stockholm, where the batteries can be tested. Work on both plants begins in 2018, followed by testing with industrial partners in 2019 and mass production in 2020.
CEO Peter Carlsson had the idea for a battery factory while looking for a green venture in which he could use his experience from several years in the USA as head of supply chain with electric car maker Tesla. In 2017, he returned to Sweden, which is a good base for Northvolt due to its deposits of essential raw materials, such as graphite and nickel, cheap hydroelectricity and modern ports for exports.
Northvolt plans to improve the energy efficiency, energy density and power of batteries. Total capacity of its annual output will reach 32 gigawatt hours by 2023. The company also hopes to recycle batteries, thereby reducing use of minerals like cobalt.
Renewable energy storage is the key to a carbon-neutral society, and batteries are the key to getting there, says Carlsson. Im trying to show Europe that carbon-free energy can be better stored and distributed with higher quality and lower costs, and made more sustainable.