Europe’s Greenest Battery Gigafactory: The Story of Northvolt
Warnings about climate change are rapidly growing by the day, with experts desperately trying to spread social awareness to avoid a global catastrophe.
Driven by the urge to make a significant change for our planet Earth, and make better conditions for a greener and more prosperous life - the Swedish entrepreneur and expert in Quality Control, Production, and Economics, Peter Carlsson, is determined to make an impact with his lithium-ion technology through producing low-cost and carbon-free electric vehicles.
As Peter puts it himself, if unprecedented changes are not made, and soon, there would be irreversible damage to the planet.
Considering survival a priority, Peter Carlsson, alongside his virtuosos co-founders and friends - Paolo Cerruti, Carl-Erik Lagercrantz, and Harald Mix - developed Northvolt, a platform for manufacturing green and sustainable batteries, whose benefits in powering energy will ensure the longevity of Earth’s future. How did Peter see possibilities of creating changes with founding Northvolt?
The Swedish Innovator
Peter is a young entrepreneur who has dedicated himself to improving the health of the planet and enforcing changes that will allow all to have a bigger quality of life.
He was born in 1970, in Sodertalje, a small town in Stockholm, filled with plenty of daylight and scenic landscapes. Spending his childhood roaming the mountains, Peter immediately fell in love with the beauty of nature, the fresh air, and all the outdoor activities he could do as a kid.
While growing up, Peter was interested in everything that had to do with nature, especially climate change and the horrid eco effects caused by everyday living. Nurturing his passion and being a witness of how fast the world was changing and that the effects of these changes were anything but favourable, Peter decided that his project won’t contribute by damaging nature, but by trying to restore its former glory. Peter attended Lulea Tekniska Universitet from 1989 to 1994 and finished his education with an M.S. degree in quality control, economics, and production.
He started his first job after graduating as a Quality Manager at Kami AB - a Swedish manufacturer and developer of roofs designed for extreme weather. A year later, in 1995, Peter moved to Ericsson and worked as a sourcing manager for six years, before becoming Head Manager of Sony Ericsson in 2001.
As always, Peter was hungry for more experience, and after achieving his first degree, he continued his education at the Economics Stockholm School, from where he earned an FL in leadership practices.
After leaving Ericsson, at the end of 2007, Peter worked as SVP and CPO of NXP Semiconductors, running source and quality management overseas, mostly in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, a journey that lasted until 2011. Then, a new chapter of Peter’s life began, with the name Tesla Motors written all over it.
Evolving the Idea
The knowledge and experience Peter had gained were recognized by one of the biggest innovative companies for sustainable, solar, and renewable energy solutions, electric cars and else - Tesla.
Peter was offered a job at the company in 2011, first as a leading executive and in 2015, as the supply chain vice president. There, Peter was building his already strong experience in the automotive and supply chain industry, relying on his knowledge in producing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, and promoting clean energy by decreasing the carbon levels caused by diesel and gas-powered vehicles.
While working at Tesla, Peter was developing a strong vision related to his childhood passion and looked for ways to contribute to preserving the planet’s health with a product of his own. The idea was an enlightening moment for Peter, who had already laid out the concept’s basics and only needed to develop it. However, he then realized that manufacturing green lithium-ion batteries in Europe was very low or non-existent.
Although Peter bore almost 20 years of experience, he still needed an extra hand to realize his plan. Peter convinced Paolo to join him at Tesla, and whilst the idea was there, the two men couldn’t put it to practice in California, but needed a ticket back to Sweden to get things going. Luckily, Carl-Erik and Harald Mix, then-owners of the green-tech platform Vargas, shared their vision.
Carl-Erik has been following Peter’s progress and wanted to talk to him about starting battery production in Sweden, so he made a call to Peter in the middle of the night and shared the good news.
The Extraordinary Platform
At first glance, the idea was amazing. Initially, the like-minded group began their journey with a six-month pre-study process. Throughout it, they learned that energy storage, electric vehicles, and industrial applications were key industries in demand of driveable, lithium-ion batteries.
In 2015, Carl and Harald were focused on enabling the early-stage investments in the sustainable industry, whereas Peter and Paolo were travelling around the world to meet suppliers, politicians, potential customers and a team to recruit. After lengthy preparations, in 2016, the big decision was made - the four would build a European gigafactory for batteries, located in Sweden and called SGF Energy.
The joining of Yasuo Anno to the already stellar team of four was the perfect addition to the company. Anno-San was a good friend of Peter’s and an expert in the Japanese battery industry. With the mission to make the biggest supply chain of carbon-free lithium-ion batteries in Europe - for cleaner air and a healthier planet and to rival Asian battery manufacturers - Peter and his team have officially founded their company in 2017, under the name of Northvolt.
The main idea was to provide the world with the greenest batteries that produce clean energy, are recycled and ensure sustainability without damaging neither humans nor nature. The factory was built in two different locations in Sweden, both of which offered the best environmental conditions. Namely, Skelleftea became Northvolt’s and Vasteras became Northvolt Lab’s home. The production of Northvolt’s electric vehicle batteries is set to begin in 2021.
Europe Supports Northvolt
Right after Nortvolt’s launching, the interest in the company was starting to escalate.
Northvolt’s first big breakthrough was the deal with its first industrial partner, a Swedish-Swiss company for technology ABB. In 2019, the European Investment Bank offered Northvolt a $350 million loan towards building an innovative, sustainable and competitive value chain in Europe.
Also, BMW, Folksam, Goldman Sachs, and Volkswagen Group, all announced that they will participate in funding Northvolt financially, and the investments reached $1 billion. The same year, Volkswagen Group and Northvolt announced that another big factory will be built in Salzgitter, Germany, planning production of lithium-ion batteries for electrical vehicles between 2023 and 2024.
Today, Northvolt is having a total funding amount of $17.3 billion with 39 investors, and partnering companies like Siemens, Scania, and Epiroc. And they haven’t even gone full swing yet. The main offices of the platform reside in Stockholm and count over 1000 employees working in both Skelleftea and Vasteras.
With the potential Northvolt has, Europe will soon have the greenest batteries globally and ensure its vitality and future. As for the world? Northvolt’s remarkable technology is just around the corner, inviting you to go green with it!