Now that Tesla’s Gigafactory in Grünheide near Berlin has finally received its operating permit, the next company from the electromobility sector is already waiting in the wings. Battery manufacturer Northvolt wants to build a gigantic factory for the production of rechargeable batteries on the North Sea coast. Production is expected to start in just a few years.
Germany is becoming an e-car country
Apparently, Germany does not seem to lose its reputation as the “land of the car” despite technology changes away from the combustion engine to the electric car. In addition to clever strategy changes by classic car manufacturers such as BMW, VW and Audi, who want to focus almost exclusively on electric mobility in the future, other indications also speak for this. Tesla made a start with its gigantic Gigafactory. It probably won’t be long before the first electric cars from the popular U.S. manufacturer roll off the assembly line there.
But in order to be able to supply the heart of every electric car, the motor, with the appropriate technology, the right batteries are of course needed. These come from Northvolt, among others. From now on, the Swedish company also wants to produce in Germany and apparently has big plans. In the idyllic town of Heide, Schleswig Holstein, another large factory is to be built under the banner of electromobility. The battery cells originating from Northvolt will then supply the vehicles built with the necessary battery technology.
Production volume of 60 GWh per year
The fact that Northvolt is serious is already clear when looking at the targeted production volume. If everything goes according to plan, the Swedes promise annual production of batteries with a total capacity of 60 GWh. In view of current electric cars, this should be enough to equip around 1 million vehicles. But it is not only the automotive industry that is expected to benefit. The otherwise rather structurally weak region, which lives primarily from agriculture, should also benefit from the settlement of the Swedish company. Northvolt promises that the construction of the factory will also create 3,000 jobs.
Not Northvolt’s first factory
Yet the Swedish company is quite experienced in building large battery factories. After all, the factory planned in Heide is already the third of its kind. Northvolt built its first Gigafactory in Sweden itself, more precisely in Skellefteå. Gigafactory number two, on the other hand, is the manufacturer’s German premiere. Together with Volkswagen, this is currently being built in Salzgitter. According to the company, it is intended to produce a total of 170 GWh of battery capacity with all three battery factories. According to Adam Riese, this should then yield batteries for almost 3 million electric cars.
Sustainable battery technology
Electric cars also have their downsides. These are found particularly in battery technology. As with smartphones and other electronics that rely on rechargeable batteries, there is the threat of a dangerous waste spiral. If defective batteries in electric cars simply end up in the trash, the eco-balance of these otherwise green vehicles quickly deteriorates. But that doesn’t have to be the case, as commendable manufacturers like Nortvolt show. After all, rechargeable batteries can not only be rebuilt, but also wonderfully recycled. In order to prove this, the idyllic coastal landscape of Schleswig Holstein will not only be used for the mere production of new batteries.
On top of that, a separate plant is to be built to recycle old battery technology. Northvolt then wants to use the reprocessed batteries for the production of new batteries. The company already proved that this is possible at the end of last year. That’s when the Swedes unveiled their first battery made from recycled batteries. But that was apparently only the starting signal for an ambitious and environmentally friendly plan. In just eight years, half of all batteries produced by Northvolt are to be made from recycled materials.
Germany’s most ecological region
But how exactly did the Swedes come to choose Heide, of all places? The company justifies its choice of location with the ecological conditions that prevail locally. The idyllic spot on the coast is the region with the cleanest energy network in Germany. A closer look reveals why this is so. After all, there are several wind turbines in the immediate vicinity of the planned Gigafactory, both on land and in the water. These produce so much electricity that there is even a surplus.
Northvolt itself seems to be full of energy and can hardly wait to start building its new Gigafactory. The company is driven not least by issues such as the energy transition and climate protection, as is clear from a statement by Peter Carlsson, founder and CEO of Northvolt. In his eyes, Northvolt’s third Gigafactory is.
“a project that fits well into a promising future cluster of clean technology companies emerging in northern Germany and driving the broader European transition to a sustainable society, in which Germany plays a crucial role”
Politicians are pleased
Meanwhile, it’s not just Germany-based automakers that are pleased about their new neighbor. Politicians are also highly pleased. After all, Northvolt’s settlement is emblematic of Germany’s ever-advancing energy transition. Commenting on Northvolt’s move, Robert Habeck (Greens), for his part the Federal Minister of Economics and Climate Protection, said:
“I am delighted about Northvolt’s planned investments in Schleswig-Holstein. The construction of a battery cell factory in Heide is a strong signal for the location Schleswig-Holstein”
The reason for the positive feedback of the member of the Federal Government is probably not least the personal attachment to the choice of location of Northvolt. After all, he was a state minister in Schleswig-Holstein from 2012 to 2018. In Habeck’s eyes, Northvolt represents a real enrichment for the coastal region of Schleswig-Holstein, not only from an ecological but also from a social perspective:
“New sustainable jobs will be created and every investment in climate-friendly technologies strengthens the sovereignty of Germany and Europe.”