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Nordic Battery Collaboration powers up green battery ecosystem

Norway, Sweden and Finland are world leaders in green electric transport. While small on their own, together these three Nordic countries form a formidable region. That’s why they’ve joined forces in striving for pole position in the race to meet the explosive demand for sustainable batteries. Published 18 Jul 2022 (updated 7 Feb 2024) · 4 min read
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“Finland, Norway and Sweden have competitive strengths in every step of the battery value chain and are joining forces as the Nordic Battery Collaboration. As individual countries we are relatively small, but as a region we are a force to be reckoned with,” says Jessica Olsson, Business Sweden’s Trade and Invest Commissioner in Norway.

“In addition,” she continues, “the Nordics enjoy a high level of trust among each other. We share key values and have a strong focus on sustainability – both environmental, social and financial.”

The Nordic countries’ 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 Nordic circular battery ecosystem and value chain.

Nordic trademark: sustainable thinking

The Nordic 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 lower CO₂ emissions than materials sourced from other regions of the world,” explains Tom Jensen, CEO of FREYR Battery Norway.

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 from EV consumers, of course. They want to be certainthat their batteries are made of sustainable materials, especially recycled materials,” says Jakko Savolainen, Commercial Director of Business Line Batteries at Fortum, a Finnish energy company.

Cross-industry battery synergies

The Nordics excel at cross-industry collaboration, a natural result of their historically close ties on trade and industry. “The impetus for Nordic cooperation on batteries has come from industry itself. It began organically, with companies working together and investing in each other, one by one, over time,” says Benedicte Fasmer Waaler, Investment Manager at Invest in Norway – the official investment promotion agency of Norway.

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 is recycled and reused by Hydro, while the so-called “black mass” containing lithium, manganese, nickel and cobalt is reused in Northvolt’s battery production.

To the east, Finnish companies have been equally as busy.

“Finland has many Nordic projects based on its natural resources. Notably, the Finnish Minerals Group and the City of Vaasa have signed MoUs with FREYR Battery Norway on industrial-scale battery cell production in Finland,” says Ilkka Homanen, Head of Smart Mobility and Batteries from Finland at Business Finland.

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.

All hands on deck in battery innovation

“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.

The Nordic trade promotion organisations (TPOs) have recently solidified their cooperation. Business Finland, Innovation Norway and Business Sweden have joined forces with the European Battery Alliance to offer Nordic Battery Thursdays, a series of webinars on Nordic battery cooperation. The webinars give the industry a platform for discussion and a channel for global communication.

The TPOs have also developed a joint narrative on the Nordic battery industry. The Nordic Battery Value Proposition, as it is known, is a united marketing front presented at industry events such as the annual International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS36) 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.

European battery independence

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 nothing less than 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 Jessica Olsson of Business Sweden. Ideally, this will include bringing battery manufacturing home from the Far East, where most batteries are still produced.

“Not only do we have sustainability, but we are conscious of speed and economies of scale as well, all of which are necessary in this fast-paced market. All in all, the Nordics are well positioned to help lead Europe to battery independence,” concludes Benedicte Fasmer Waaler of Invest in Norway.