Swedish Li-ion battery manufacturer Northvolt announced on February 25 that it will be purchasing an old paper mill and its surrounding industrial area from Finnish paper manufacturer Stora Enso and converting it into a gigfactory for cathode active material and battery cells. The paper mill is called the Kvarnsveden Mill and located in Borlänge, a municipality in Sweden. Stora Enso said that the mill has been shuttered since 2021 because of the “structural decline in demand” for the graphical paper produced at the site. A letter of intent to purchase the mill has been signed.
Northvolt will refurbish the mill site, thereby establishing a manufacturing complex with more than 100GWh of production capacity for cathode active material. The first phase of this gigafactory is set to enter operation in late 2024. The cathode active material can be used by the cell production lines at the same site and by Northvolt’s other cell production facilities.
The new Kvarnsveden gigafactory will be powered 100% by clean energy and employ up to 1,000 people. The jobs created by this project will more than offset the losses of 400 jobs that resulted from the closure of the paper mill, which had been in existence for more than a century.
Peter Carlsson, co-founder and CEO of Northvolt, said that since his company has been developing circular battery production since its establishment. The Kvarnsveden gigafactory will be the company’s first capacity-building project that involves the repurposing of an existing factory site. Carlsson added that there are several advantages of setting up a production base in Borlänge. Besides the existing infrastructure, the company also has access to clean energy, industrial water, and local talent pool. Carlsson believes that the capacity-building project will “open a new chapter in Borlänge’s history as a global industrial hub.”
Per Lyrvall, Stora Enso’s country manager for Sweden, said that sustainability is his company’s main priority and has to be taken into account even during a difficult period. Hence, having Northvolt as the new owner of the mill site will not only be beneficial to the local community but also maintain Stora Enso’s long-established reputation as a contributor to sustainable development.
Northvolt is currently implementing a massive capacity expansion strategy. Its first gigfactory in the Swedish city of Skellefteå entered operation at the end of last year and is moving from the pilot production stage to the mass production stage. Also, on February 4, Northvolt and VOLVO announced that they will be jointly developing a gigafactory in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. Northvolt Ett, which is the manufacturing base in Skellefteå, will eventually ramp up to 40GWh. As for the manufacturing base in Gothenburg, its maximum production capacity is set at 50GWh. Scheduled to enter operation in 2025, Gothenburg gigafactory is near the Torslanda Works, which is one of VOLVO’s major car production sites. Outside Sweden, Northvolt is also building a battery module factory in the Polish city of Gdańsk.