Northvolt battery plant sparks into life, a first for Europe

Northvolt facility in Vasteras
FILE PHOTO: General view outside the Northvolt facility in Vasteras, Sweden, September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Helena Soderpalm.

December 31, 2021

By Supantha Mukherjee and Helena Soderpalm

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Sweden’s Northvolt said on Wednesday its new gigafactory in northern Sweden has assembled its first battery cell, making it the first European company to design and manufacture a battery on the continent.

The cell is of a prismatic cell format – a variety of thinner and lighter battery – and came off the assembly line on Tuesday.

Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson had told Reuters that the new factory would produce a battery this year “even if it means the first battery is made on New Year’s Eve”.

“What we did yesterday was taking a few cells through the entire cell assembly process, from start to finish, as part of the commissioning of the machinery,” a spokesman said.

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

Commissioning and upscaling of the factory will continue into 2022, when the first commercial customer deliveries will be made, the company said in a statement.

The factory is set in the small, industrial town of Skelleftea in Sweden’s main cluster of mines and mineral resources.

Its history of mining, not least for gold, gave it the nickname of “Gold town”.

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% market share in Europe by 2030.

It has received over $30 billion worth of contracts from customers such as BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar.

Northvolt will rival the likes of Tesla and Asian battery makers such as Panasonic, LG Chem and CATL.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Helena Soderpalm in Stockholm; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)