Financing secured to ‘enable rapid development’ of Norway’s first lithium battery cell gigafactory

FREYR signed a deal in April to source 100% of the 2GWh Fast Track plant's electricity demand from hydroelectric, with the plant expected to utilise 200GWh of power annually. Image: FREYR.

The company behind what looks set to be Norway’s first gigawatt-scale manufacturing facility for lithium-ion battery cells has secured pre-construction financing of NOK130 million (US$13.85 million) which it said will “enable rapid development” of the plant.

Startup FREYR said it completed the financing at the beginning of July with investment coming in from Norway’s Rana municipality where the 2GWh fab will be located, as well as from a regional investment group, along with 40 “professional and private investors”.

The funding consisted of NOK117 million of new equity through a private placement along with the conversion of a bridge facility established earlier in the year. The equity raise will be used to complete the plant’s final design, including technology selection. FREYR hopes to begin construction in Q2 2021.

The 2GWh plant in the town of Mo i Rana is a ‘Fast Track’ plant and the first step for FREYR to build up a customer base, the company said. It then plans to build a further 32GWh of production capacity across four factories, in two phases. The factories will serve the stationary energy storage sector, as well as the electric vehicle and marine application markets.

FREYR’s plans to establish a so-called “Nordic Battery Belt” have been in the making since late 2018, having got off the ground in part due to government support through the Innovation Norway agency. Agreements have already been signed for local supply of renewable energy, raw materials, equipment, technology and frameworks for project management support during construction, as well as automation processes.

FREYR’s ambition is to make Norway a global leader in this exponentially growing, energy-intensive industry by leveraging 100% renewable electricity at low prices, sustainably sourced raw materials and deep expertise in energy-intensive and highly automated process-intensive industries,” FREYR CEO Tom Einar Jensen said.

“We are now progressing towards technology selection and offtake agreements which will unlock the development of the 2GWh Fast Track facility as planned. We will furthermore accelerate the expansion of the FREYR team to complement our inhouse capabilities and partnerships already in place to deliver on our ambitions”.

FREYR’s closest geographical rival will be Northvolt, which is further ahead in similarly ambitious plans in neighbouring Sweden. Meanwhile there have been commitments towards establishing dozens of gigawatt-hours of battery factories in Europe in the past couple of years, including billions of Euros in support from the European Commission.

This has been based around two main drivers as renewable energy and electric mobility uptake increases across the continent: one being to locate supply centres closer to demand, in part for sustainability reasons and to reduce dependence on foreign imports, the other to improve European industrial competitiveness.

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