How Northvolt is embracing Asia

Skellefteå + Far East = a perfect match. For battery giant Northvolt, the experience and specialized knowledge that originates in Asia are of the utmost importance in the construction and operation of its business.

Yun Lee is factory manager at Dongjin Sweden. The factory, which is located near Northvolt's battery factory, was recently inaugurated.

Yun Lee is factory manager at Dongjin Sweden. The factory, which is located near Northvolt's battery factory, was recently inaugurated.

Foto: Hampus Berglund Svensson

Norra Sverige2023-04-26 14:24

– The expertise is extremely valuable to us, says Sanna Bäckström, a spokesperson for the Northvolt factory. This refers to the employees from all corners of the world that Northvolt has recruited for its operations. The battery factory has currently has more than 1700 employees, which is an impressive achievement.

Construction of Northvolt's battery factory is progressing. Subcontractors from Asia contribute important skills and experience.

In addition, there are a large number of subcontractors on site with employees working to build up the factory, ensure everything runs smoothly, and in some cases, even manufacture important products on site permanently.

Looking east was a given strategy for Northvolt, whose business idea is to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for electric cars for sale in Europe. South Korea, Japan, and China are world leaders in technology and dominate the market.

– Lithium-ion batteries were born in Japan, and in east Asia they have built up a very strong industry and developed expertise over many years. There is also a strong ecosystem of subcontractors, says Sanna.

The manufacture of battery cells is underway at Northvolt Ett.

A significant portion of the work at Northvolt centers on engineering roles, with employees involved in the construction, installation, and fine-tuning of equipment to ensure smooth production. In addition to these roles, there are also positions dedicated to the development of existing technology and research. The knowledge and expertise gained from these roles are also used to inform and shape education programs in Sweden.

– The specialized knowledge and experience that Northvolt has developed is very significant in several different ways, says Sanna.

Not all of Northvolt's subcontractors are public. One of the known subcontractors is South Korean company Dongjin, which recently inaugurated its factory located opposite Northvolt's factory in Bergsbyn. Dongjin produces elements for the material used on battery electrodes, known as carbon nanotube slurry.

Sanna Bäckström, communicator at Northvolt Ett.

There is also Chinese company Kedali Industry (KDL), which is integrated into the factory area and manufactures aluminum containers.

Dongjin and KDL's operations involve permanent staff, whereas other subcontractors are based in Skellefteå on a project basis for a limited period of time.

Northvolt views these establishments as a positive trend reversal.

– It is noteworthy that these are subcontractors who previously only existed on the other side of the world, with accompanying challenges such as logistics. Their decision to co-establish themselves on-site brings significant environmental benefits and indicates a trend in how they want to set up their production in the future, says Sanna.

The population trend in Skellefteå is up. Immigration from other countries is a large part of the municipality's increase of more than1,000 inhabitants in 2022.