The Nordics are flexing their muscles in the race to meet the exploding demand for batteries. In cooperation with each other as well as Asian and European partners, the Nordic countries are carving out their own niche with a focus on sustainability.
Published 29 August 2022
So what does the Nordic region have to offer the rest of the world? Lots of clean, affordable energy, a stable, transparent political and business climate, and an autonomous, well-educated labour force.
“In addition, the Nordics enjoy a high level trust among each other. We share key values and put a broad focus on sustainability – environmental, social and financial,” she says.
Their differences complement each other as well. In the simplest terms, Finland has strong mining and minerals production, Norway has a mature process industry, and Sweden has an advanced industrial base. Together, they have everything needed to build a circular battery ecosystem.
No wonder that the Nordics are well-known for their green profile. The region leads the world in green electrification of the transport sector, due in part to the large share of renewables in the energy mix and targeted government policy. Norway alone has half of the world’s electric boats, and Finland and Sweden share Norway’s high EV adoption rate.
“European, and especially Nordic-based, materials are manufactured with a lower CO₂ emissions profile than materials sourced from other regions of the world,” explained Tom Jensen, CEO of FREYR Battery Norway, in a Nordic Battery Thursdays webinar.
The sustainability push comes from the public and private spheres alike. While national regulations and the upcoming EU Battery Directive set high environmental standards, Nordic battery consumers are demanding even more.
“Battery cell producers are setting stricter targets for themselves than the regulations do. The demand comes of course from EV consumers. They want to know that their batteries are made of sustainable raw materials, especially recycled raw materials,” said Jakko Savolainen, Commercial Director of Business Line Batteries at Fortum, a Finnish energy company, during the same webinar.
The Nordics excel at cross-industry collaboration, a natural result of their historically close ties on trade and industry.
A shining example of this is HydroVolt, an EV battery recycling joint venture between Hydro, a Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company, and Northvolt, a Swedish battery manufacturer. Aluminium from the used batteries will be recycled and reused by Hydro, while the “black mass” containing lithium, manganese, nickel and cobalt will be reused in Northvolt’s battery production.
To the east, Finnish companies have been equally as busy.
Homanen mentions two other sustainable, cross-border projects: Stora Enso’s plant that produces bio-based material to replace non-renewable graphite in batteries and Fortum’s recycling of EV batteries from Norway and Sweden in Finland.
“This is a complex value chain, and we need each other,” says Fasmer Waaler. In addition to industry, she notes that the Nordic battery ecosystem receives support from many arenas: battery clusters, universities, research groups, and national and local governments.
Now the Nordic trade promotion organisations (TPOs) have solidified their cooperation. In 2021, Business Finland, Innovation Norway, and Business Sweden joined forces with the European Battery Alliance to offer Nordic Battery Thursdays, a series of webinars on Nordic battery cooperation. The webinars give industry a platform for discussion and a channel for global communication and are continuing in 2022.
The TPOs have also developed a joint narrative on the Nordic battery industry. The Nordic Battery Value Proposition, as it is known, is presented as a united marketing front at industry events such as the annual International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS35) and Battery Show Europe. The TPO directors have signed a letter of intent on ongoing cooperation, and have adopted the official name “Nordic Battery Collaboration” for their work together.
Battery Norway, Invest in Norway and Business Sweden co-hosted a battery roundtable in Stockholm in May 2022, attended by the Swedish and Norwegian ministers of trade Anna Hallberg and Jan Christian Vestre. The slogan “stronger together than alone" applies just as well to the Nordic Battery Collaboration.
Just to be clear: The Nordics are not aiming for world battery domination. Nor do they necessarily want to compete toe-to-toe with China. Instead, they are working towards a sustainable, low-carbon, closed-loop battery ecosystem in Europe. The goal is European battery independence.
“The world is becoming more polarised. Global supply chains are changing, and geopolitical developments have shown us why we need our own battery hub in Europe,” says Olsson. Ideally, this will include bringing battery manufacturing home from the Far East, where most batteries are still produced.
“Not only do we have the sustainability, but we are conscious of speed and economy of scale as well, which are necessary in this fast-paced market. All in all, the Nordics are well positioned to help lead Europe to battery independence,” concludes Fasmer Waaler.
Are you interested in learning more about the growing Norwegian battery industry? Please contact Invest in Norway.