Entire value chains, production methods, and short-and long-term impact of materials and production are being examined in industries all around the world. Emerging industries are in a unique position to create sustainable practices and solutions, and the battery sector is leading the green transition by establishing an industry from the ground up with sustainability at its core.

This rare opportunity is creating new ways of collaborating across the Nordics and driving high-level investment into the region.

The foundations were laid in 2017 with the ambitious and pioneering launch of plans to build Northvolt, a EUR 3.8 billion electric battery factory in the north-west coastal town of Skellefteå. The ‘gigafactory’ is on track to be Europe’s largest factory, setting a new benchmark to produce next-generation lithium-ion batteries to meet the demand for electric cars and other vehicles and accelerate Europe’s transition to renewables.

Sweden a magnet for international investment and collaboration

The power of Sweden’s battery ecosystem has become a magnet for large-scale investment and building a supply chain hub incorporating Swedish innovation and natural resources with international solutions and expertise.

Major battery player, Chinese company Kedali has struck a deal with Northvolt to supply casings for the lithium-ion batteries, with an integrated on-site production facility in Skellefteå. This collaboration model aims to deliver decreased costs and increased supply efficiencies, while also removing the risks associated with a global supply chain. The investment will run into the tens of millions of euros and generate around 200 new jobs; it will also play an important role in enhancing Kedali’s global competitiveness. By providing the battery caps and casings, a critical part of Sweden’s battery production puzzle has been solved.

Kedali will also use the production site as pilot project for automation, with the aim of exploring ways of increasing automating to further enhance the company’s manufacturing capacity for caps and casings in both Europe and China.

Sweden’s natural resources are also proving to be an untapped opportunity to support a sustainable battery ecosystem. Existing lithium mining investment from Canada’s Leading Edge Materials Corp is showing encouraging results and is leading a wider lithium project in the Nordics. The Canadian firm also operates the Woxna graphite mining program in nearby Gävleborg and has plans to expand operations across Sweden to tap into the plentiful supply of natural minerals. Australian company Talga Resources have also invested in Sweden’s mining ecosystem with a high-quality graphite deposit outside of Kiruna. The mined graphite is of such quality that it can be converted into graphene, another necessary material required in battery production.

End-to-end European supply chain a major ambition

The EU market size for battery production is estimated to be 350-450 GWh per year by 2025. It is a goal that can be achieved, but to do it in the most sustainable way is a challenge that will need global expertise.

International investors have often perceived Sweden as attractive but not affordable, which has slowed innovation in some areas. But Kedali’s investment has shifted that perception on a global scale, making way for large-scale investors to seriously examine Sweden’s battery ecosystem and wider investment potential.

The most recent investment from Shenzhen Senior Technology Material (Senior) is another part of the puzzle that has been solved. In their first investment in a production line outside of China, Senior Technology Material’s planned site in Eskilstuna will supply Northvolt with separator film for lithium-ion batteries.

When the new facility is completed in 2025, it will also become home to Senior Technology Material’s European headquarters. The appeal of Sweden went deeper than the presence of Northvolt; Sweden’s position as one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare nations showed that the possibility of sustainable battery manufacturing is a realistic and achievable goal.

More than neighbours

Sweden’s geographical position at the heart of the Nordics has been a catalyst for the rapidly expanding Nordic Battery Value Proposition. Joining forces with Finland and Norway is unlocking access to critical minerals and energy resources. The power of collaboration is creating an ecosystem that is defining the European green transition and supporting economic growth in each country and the Nordic region.

The global trend towards regional production hubs means the Nordic Battery Value Proposition has a head-start in positioning the Nordics as the home of Europe’s sustainable battery production.

Sweden, along with our Nordic partners know the value of collaboration and looking globally to attract the solutions and investments to accelerate innovation is a natural step.