Sweden’s Northvolt Gigafactory Begins Battery Production

Northvolt Labs' planned battery factory in Sweden. Northvolt

First Northvolt battery cell has been assembled in northern Sweden gigafactory, as start-up readies for 2022 production run

Swedish battery manufacturing venture Northvolt has confirmed that production at its gigafactory in northern Sweden has begun.

The first battery cell has rolled off the production line, and the firm aims to make its first completed battery before the year end.

This is noteworthy achievement, as it marks the first time that a European company has designed and manufactured a battery on the continent.

Northvolt’s battery plant near the Arctic Circle. Image credit: Northvolt

Battery ambitions

Northvolt was set up as part of an EU effort to reduce the region’s dependence on Asian producers for batteries aimed at electric vehicles and power storage.

The EU in 2019 approved a 3.2bn euro subsidy from seven member states, led by Germany and France, into the battery industry plan.

The project, of which Northvolt is a key part, launched in 2017 and is aimed to be complete in 2031.

Just before Christmas, Northvolt reached a deal with Portuguese oil firm Galp to build what is intended to be Europe’s largest integrated lithium conversion plant.

The company had said the conversion facility in Portugal would have an initial output capacity of up to 35,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide, a material required for the production of lithium-ion batteries – enough for batteries powering about 700,000 electric vehicles.

But Northvolt on Wednesday has announced that its gigafactory in Skelleftea, a former gold mining town about 200 km south of the Arctic Circle, has assembled the first battery cell.

The first cell of Northvolt Ett represents a milestone which Northvolt has been working towards since the gigafactory was announced in 2017, the firm stated.

The cell is of a prismatic cell format is thinner and lighter than other types, and came off the cell assembly line on the 28th of December.

Commissioning and upscaling of the factory will continue through into 2022, when the first commercial customer deliveries will be made.

Notable milestone

“Today is a great milestone for Northvolt which the team has worked very hard to achieve,” noted Northvolt chief executive Peter Carlsson – a former Tesla executive.

“Of course, this first cell is only the beginning. Over the course of the coming years, we look forward to Northvolt Ett expanding its production capacity greatly to enable the European transition to clean energy,” said Carlsson.

The first batteries will reportedly be kept by Northvolt for further testing and validation, and the later on as a trophy.

The company is aiming for the Skelleftea plant to achieve production capacity of 60 gigawatt hours (GWh) as it aims for at least a 20-25 percent market share in Europe by 2030.

Northvolt has secured from key customers, including BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar.

To these customers in the automotive, industrial and energy storage sectors, Northvolt Ett will deliver cells of varying formats with commercial deliveries beginning in 2022.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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