Northvolt, a company founded by two former Tesla executives who broke out on their own to build a battery gigafactory in Europe, has been making a lot of moves and partnerships lately.

Now, the duo has began construction on the first phase of its planned battery gigafactory.

They are building the ‘Northvolt Labs’ in Sweden.

The location will serve as “a research facility used to develop, test and industrialize lithium-ion battery cells before large-scale production.”

It will have a production capacity of 125 MWh per year, which they will then expand for the battery gigafactory.

The factory is expected to start production in 2020 with a target capacity of 8 GWh per year and they will aim for 32 GWh of capacity once the entire factory will be completed in 2023.

It would make it the biggest li-ion battery factory in Europe and comparable in size to the first phase of Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. Peter Carlsson, Founder and CEO of Northvolt, and Paolo Cerruti, COO of Northvolt, both worked on the Gigafactory 1 project.

Carlsson said about the announcement:

“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.”

The start of construction comes after they’ve secured a $68 million loan from InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators’ Energy Demonstration Projects facility.

In a press release today, they listed their milestones for ther battery production project:

  • Site selection: After conducting an in-depth assessment spanning over six months of ten potential factory locations in Sweden and Finland, Northvolt announced a partnership with two Swedish municipalities for the establishment of Northvolt Labs in Västerås and Northvolt’s first large-scale battery factory in Skellefteå.
  • Environmental permits: Northvolt has, well ahead of schedule, received the environmental permit for the Northvolt Labs operations in Västerås and is in final negotiations around the permit for the large-scale manufacturing facility in Skellefteå.
  • Strategic partnerships: Northvolt has since launch entered into strategic industrial partnerships with ABB, Vestas and Scania. The company today announced two new partnerships with Canadian lithium supplier Nemaska Lithium and Japanese battery production equipment manufacturer SECI.
  • Battery systems: Driven by customer demand, a unit called Northvolt Battery Systems has been established – a team dedicated to developing complete battery systems, which includes cells, battery, data management systems and thermal control functions, for key customer segments. The first battery module prototype was completed in February of this year. Northvolt today announced it has been selected by Epiroc as a supplier of battery systems for zero-emissions mining machines.
  • Cell design: Major strides have been made in cell design. Based on the highest industry standards, which will be implemented in every step of the manufacturing process, the Northvolt cell design team delivered the first test cell earlier this year.
  • Recycling: A recycling program has been initiated with Chalmers University with the aim to industrialize the recycling process of lithium-ion batteries. By dismantling and recycling raw materials on elementary level, Northvolt believes that resources can be taken care of and prepared to the quality level of primary material to reintroduce in the production line.
  • Supplier relationships: Northvolt has developed extensive relationships with key suppliers all around the world. These relationships have enabled the team, as a first step already before the establishment of Northvolt Labs, to develop a decentralized demoline on-site at each supplier’s facility to initiate R&D projects in order to test machines, processes and products.
  • Raw materials: Northvolt has a clear roadmap to source a responsibly mined, clean and secure feed of material. Northvolt today announced the formation of a strategic partnership for the supply of battery grade lithium hydroxide with Nemaska Lithium Inc.
  • Team: The Northvolt team has grown from 12 people at launch to over 100 people today. The team has 27 different nationalities and people with backgrounds from a broad array of companies, such as Scania, Tesla, McKinsey, ABB and Renault Nissan.
  • Financing: Northvolt last year initiated a fundraising round with the ambition to raise up to EUR 100 million to finance the launch of Northvolt Labs. Those funds have been secured and exceeded. The team will later this year initiate a larger funding round to support the establishment of the first part of the large-scale factory in Skellefteå.
  • The EU Battery Alliance: After an initiative from Maroš Šefčovic, Vice-President for the Energy Union in the European Commission, the industry led EU Battery Alliance was formed during the fall. The alliance will work to create a comprehensive, European-wide, roadmap for battery manufacturing. Northvolt has been an active part of the EU Battery Alliance from the very beginning, and will continue to contribute towards this initiative in order ensure continued European competitiveness.

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