2021-06-21 16:31News

21 June 2021

Mundus Nordic Green News

Volvo Car Group and Northvolt to join forces in battery development and production

Volvo Car Group intends to establish a joint venture with Northvolt to develop and produce more sustainable batteries, tailored to power the next generation of pure electric Volvo and Polestar cars. As a first step for the 50/50 joint venture, Volvo Car Group and Northvolt aim to set up a research and development centre in Sweden that will begin operations in 2022. As part of the plans, Volvo Car Group also looks to source 15 GWh of battery cells per year from the existing Northvolt Ett battery plant in Skellefteå, Sweden starting in 2024.

Dagens Industri reports that Volvo Cars, opted out of Northvolt when the company signed a battery contract in 2019 until 2028 with Chinese CATL and South Korean LG Chem. At that time, the requirement was that the supplier would have production in Volvo's three production regions - Europe, China and the USA. Now Volvo Cars has changed its criteria. They want to both buy batteries from the Skellefteå factory and collaborate with Northvolt. “At that time, we bought batteries that were already in production and the Skellefteå factory was not up and running. We had to buy batteries on the market, but now we are talking about much larger volumes, including research and development. It's a completely different situation. Now we do not just want a supplier but a partner. Then we have come to the conclusion that Northvolt is the best partner after looking at all sorts of different alternatives", said Volvo Cars CEO Håkan Samuelsson.

Dagens Industri expects the factory to be worth between SEK 25-30 billion, sparking fierce competiion in Europe to be the winning location. (press release, Dagens Industri)

Breakthrough for Hybrit project

The Hybrit project run by SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall has produced the world's first hydrogen-reduced iron sponge on a pilot scale, instead of coal and coke. Direct reduction with pure hydrogen has previously only been tested in a few small trials, which was the primary reason why the Hybrit companies wanted to test the technology first on a pilot scale and then on a demonstration scale.

Such a breakthrough is said to cut 90% of climate emissions from steel production. "This is the first time ever that iron ore has been directly reduced with hydrogen produced with fossil-free electricity on a pilot scale." Jan Moström, President and CEO at LKAB sais “This is a major breakthrough both for us and for the entire iron and steel industry. LKAB is the future supplier of sponge iron and this is a critical step in the right direction. Progress with HYBRIT enables us to maintain the pace in our transition and already in 2026, we will begin the switch to industrial-scale production with the first demonstration plant in Gällivare, Sweden. Once LKAB has converted its entire production to sponge iron, we will enable the transition of the steel industry and reduce global emissions by around 35 million tonnes a year, which corresponds to two thirds of Sweden’s entire emissions.” (press release, Microsoft News)

Folksam increases its ownership in SSAB

Folksam has increased its holding in the steel company SSAB to 5.2% of the votes and 2.1% of the capital. The purpose of the larger holding is to act as a long-term owner, being involved in and supporting SSAB's conversion to fossil-free steel production, while the investment in the long run is expected to have good potential to provide an attractive return to Folksam's customers. (press release)

Swedish Energy Agency allocates approximately SEK 300 million to sustainable methanol project

Project Air is a Swedish conversion project by the chemical group, Perstorp which wants to produce sustainable methanol on a large scale using fossil-free hydrogen from Uniper and Fortum. Earlier this year, Project Air was approved for the next evaluation level following an application to the EU Innovation Fund. 

A full-scale project would reduce fossil emissions by about 500,000 tpa. The Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) has allocated SEK 295 million as part of the Industrial Life (Industriklivet) initiative to support the industry's conversion to net zero emissions. The basic idea is to create an integrated concept for climate-neutral and circular methanol production for the energy-intensive chemical sector. The plan is to build a methanol plant to convert captured carbon dioxide, residual streams, hydrogen and biomethane to methanol. Hydrogen gas is intended to be produced in a new electrolysis plant, which will produce 200,000 tpa of sustainable methanol. (press release)

Finland aims to double the value added of it bioeconomy to €50 billion

The value of the bioeconomy is produced in the forest, food, chemical and technology industries, as well as in construction and tourism services. According to the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy, a clear change is being prepared from the 2014 bioeconomy strategy, where the focus was on the volume of production. “Now we are not taking a position on the amount, but we are working with development measures to create even higher value added in the bioeconomy, said Petri Peltonen,  Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.” (Karjalainen)

Finland’s Hycamite to test new hydrogen production technology in pilot plant.

Hycamite TCD Technologies is preparing to build an pilot plant for hydrogen production, where Hycamite will test its technology in factory production. Hycamite has reserved an area for the new plant in the Kokkola Industrial Park (KIP) on the Gulf of Bothnia - the largest concentration of inorganic chemical industry in Northern Europe. Hycamite manufactures breaks down methane molecules to form hydrogen and industrial grade carbon. According to the company, no greenhouse gas emissions are generated in the process.

Laura Rahikka, CEO of Hycamite said “Our goal is to launch large-scale hydrogen production using our technology over the next couple of years. The hydrogen we produce can be used, among other things, for clean energy production and various industrial processes.” (Teknik Katalous, Karjalainen)

What we’re reading
  • Key Climate Talks Are Headed for Trouble After G-7 Wrangling (Bloomberg)


About Nordic Green News

The Nordic countries are some of the most dynamic and successful economies in the world. They are also leaders in sustainability, from renewable energy, biofuels, carbon capture and storage and the hydrogen economy, circular economy business models and battery development, the Nordics are pioneers in policy design, technology development and consumer uptake. Mundus Nordic Green News is covering this transition for the international community. Every day we clip the stories of most relevance to international businesspeople and policy experts from the flow of news. We supplement these with our own opinion pieces and commentary, in English.