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Northvolt’s US$750m R&D campus will directly benefit battery manufacturer’s grid-storage efforts

The Northvolt Labs complex in Västerås, Sweden. Image: Northvolt.

Northvolt has announced an expansion to its R&D centre in Sweden which will turn the facility into “Europe’s leading campus for battery technologies”.

The company said the new US$750 million campus will be built at Northvolt Labs, its cell industrialisation plant, which has testing facilities being built next door and a pilot recycling plant, in Västerås, Sweden.

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Aiming to bring together R&D, cell design, module and manufacturing process development and battery recycling all onto one site, it could create a fully-integrated ecosystem approach to making progress in the fledgleing European battery industry. This includes fostering development of next generation battery technologies as well as next generation manufacturing techniques.

Customers will also get a “toolbox spanning the full-spectrum of value-chain activities relating to lithium-ion battery design, development and lifecycle,” the company said in a press release this morning. 

That includes a customer centre where Northvolt’s partners, start-ups, companies looking to scale up their technologies and academics will be able to meet and collaborate on driving forward the European battery and electrification space. 

The new centre will also benefit Northvolt Systems, the division designing and manufacturing solutions for the stationary energy storage system (ESS) market, Emad Zand, Northvolt Systems president, told today. 

“If you want to develop a grid energy storage system, this is the place to be,” Zand said.

“The development of Northvolt Labs into a comprehensive ecosystem serving the full battery value chain is a massive step up in terms of our being able to develop the battery solutions Europe needs.

“There is a clear advantage in play for Northvolt Systems – previously, Northvolt Labs was focused on cell industrialisation and battery recycling. With this expansion, we can now look forward to battery systems testing and validation, for instance of modules and larger systems, being undertaken on the campus.”

The startup is well underway in its plan to build lithium-ion battery gigafactories in Europe, including its first flagship facility, Northvolt Ett in Skellefteå, further north in Sweden, which will have an annual production capacity of 60GWh. Using abundant renewable energy to power its production, it will be among Europe’s greenest battery manufacturers, Northvolt has claimed. 

Campus ‘will enhance Europe’s standing in the global battery scene’

Targeting a total of 150GWh of annual capacity by 2030, the company expects to build at least two more gigafactories in the continent, with Germany the next most likely destination. Northvolt had already been developing a 16GWh facility in the country in a joint venture (JV) with Volkswagen but sold its share of that to the automaker, which also placed a US$14 billion order with the battery company.  

Having raised US$6.5 billion in investment towards its plans and brokered nearly US$30 billion of customer contracts, the vast majority of which are for electric vehicles, Northvolt’s targeting of the stationary energy storage space includes an energy storage system (ESS) assembly plant in development in Poland and joint efforts to develop and build ESS equipment with customer Fluence

Northvolt spokesperson and VP of communications and public affairs Jesper Wigardt told this site a while back that roughly 20% of Northvolt’s battery cell production capacity could be focused on the stationary energy storage market.

Today, Emad Zand said that the expanded R&D campus will give Northvolt Systems engineers the ability to develop and test module and systems technologies at the same site where the group’s cell engineers are working. 

This will lead to more efficient product development, Zand said, and he added that overall, expanding Northvolt Labs significantly and adding the new customer centre where industry players can go and work together, “will not only accelerate our development of safe, high-performance energy storage systems for the grid, but will enhance Europe’s position on the global battery industry scene”.

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