Construction starts up at Northvolt Labs R&D and production site in Västerås, Sweden, with completion expected in 2019
Swedish battery developer Northvolt has begun construction on its first production site – the first phase of wider plans to build a factory with up to 32GWh per year of manufacturing capacity.
Northvolt Labs is located in Västerås, and is slated for completion in 2019. The R&D facility will be used to develop, test and industrialise the company’s lithium-ion battery cells before scaling up to larger volume production
The factory is expected to employ 300-400 people and will be capable of producing up to 125 MWh per year.
A kick-off ceremony was held at the site, with executives joined by European Commission vice-president and EU Battery Alliance advocate Maroš Šefčovič, European Investment Bank (EIB) VP Andrew McDowell, and the Swedish Minister of Enterprise and Innovation, Mikael Damberg.
The EIB has already provided a US$65 million loan, with additional support from InnovFin’s EU Finance for Innovators Energy Demonstration Projects facility, the Swedish Energy Agency, and other industrial partners.
Total investment for the larger factory, located in Skellefteå in northern Sweden, is estimated at around 4 billion euros (US$5 billion).
Commenting on the start of construction, Northvolt co-founder and CEO Peter Carlsson said: “When old technology is phased out and overtaken by electrification in the coming years, batteries are going to become the differentiating factor. With increasing technology differentiation and substantial growth of R&D efforts from sophisticated customers, especially in the transportation industry, our strategy with Northvolt Labs is to provide a facility for them to develop their own design, then test, industrialize and qualify it, before taking it to large-scale production.”
“Batteries are at the heart of the industrial revolution. The Northvolt project shows that Europe has what it takes to become the world’s leader in innovation, decarbonisation and digitisation. I am proud to open this cutting-edge facility in Västerås together with our strategic partners: Northvolt and its EU consortium, Sweden and the EIB. We will continue to work together under the European Battery Alliance to make sure we establish competitive value chains in sustainable batteries production in Europe,” added Šefčovič.
Although the exact form factor and construction for Northvolt’s technology has not yet been made clear – its website says it will offer “one or two” of the typical pouch, prismatic or cylindrical li-ion cells – it says its design has delivered the first test cell, which was completed earlier this year.
The Northvolt CEO says the company is now entering its next phase of development “from a planning to a physical phase.” Having established relationships with other players in the power and automotive sectors – including ABB, Vestas and Scania – the manufacturer appears well on its way.
“With a number of key partners and customers onboard, and with major progress made within cell, product and process development, we are now ready to take the next step,” Carlsson added.