Tesla is attempting to shake up the car and energy industries with their battery-producing Gigafactory – and two past employees hope to bring the revolution to Europe. Former Tesla executives Peter Carlsson and Paolo Cerruti aim to build Europe’s biggest lithium-ion battery factory with startup Northvolt in Sweden. Carlsson said, “We will produce a battery with significantly lower carbon footprint than the current supply chains.”
The $4.5 billion Northvolt factory in Sweden will pump out batteries for electric cars, ships, trucks, and snowmobiles. They’ll source materials like nickel and graphite from Swedish deposits, and cobalt from a Finland refiner. They’ll power the factory with renewable energy from Sweden’s hydropower dams. They’ll reuse waste heat and recycle old batteries. Northvolt just this week announced a “wide-ranging supply and technology partnership” with company ABB.
Northvolt batteries will have an almost zero carbon footprint, according to Carlsson. He said, “Right now the flow of batteries to Europe would mainly come from Asia. If you take the [coal-powered] energy grids of China or Japan, both of their carbon footprints are pretty high. When you accumulate that into a battery pack for a vehicle, that’s a significant footprint.” Northvolt will be able to differentiate themselves using hydropower. They’ll also create their own anode and cathode chemical mixes rather than purchasing them from Asian or European manufacturers.
Is Northvolt making a run for Tesla’s business? According to Wired, Carlsson said he’s not competing with old boss Elon Musk. He said, “Tesla is a very challenging culture, but it’s also a very rewarding culture. There’s one thing that nobody can take away from Elon; he has always put his mission above everyone else. Hopefully we can spread that kind of culture also within Northvolt.”
The 32 gigawatt hour plant could begin production in 2020.
Images via Northvolt