Norwegian wind titan to build $3bn gigafactory to supercharge national 'green shift'

14 01 2023 | 18:58Darius Snieckus / RECHARGE

Lars Helge Helvig – whose investment house Valinor has the country’s largest private wind developer, Norsk Vind, in its portfolio – aims to build a lithium-ion battery complex with an annual capacity of 40GWh

Norwegian renewable energy serial entrepreneur Lars Helge Helvig – whose investment house Valinor has the country’s largest private wind developer, Norsk Vind, as well as offshore sector start-up Norsk Havvind in its portfolio – has revealed plans to build a NKr30bn ($3bn) lithium-ion (li-ion) battery gigafactory by 2030.

The giant project, Recharge sister publication Dagens Naeringsliv (DN) reported, will be developed in NKr10bn stages by the newly-incorporated Elinor Batteries, with construction slated to begin next year on a time-line that would see commissioning in 2026.

The ambition is to build a complex in Trøndelag in central Norway made up of as many as four factory assembly lines, with an annual manufacturing capacity of a total of 40GWh of li-ion batteries for use in residential and commercial buildings and charging stations but not EVs.

“Battery production on a large scale is absolutely essential if we are to succeed with electrification and the green shift,” Helvig told DN.

“We have seen a very exciting development on the technology side in wind power and solar power, where costs have fallen sharply.

“We also see this in part with batteries. We believe it will continue, but the technology will not improve without us taking the existing technology and making it better. We cannot sit on the fence and wait for someone else to do it for us.”

Elinor Batteries will be headed up by Terje Andersen, who left his post as CEO of Morrow Batteries last summer.

Andersen said: “The electrification of society means that the need for batteries worldwide increases with each passing day. That the EU should make itself less dependent on batteries produced in Asia also opens up an even bigger market in Europe.”

Valinor, which in 2021 turned a profit of NKr450m after selling off EV charging station start-up Zaptec, will underwrite the project’s lead-off development phase, with future financing coming from “a combination of private investors at home and abroad, the owners' investment capital and government grants”.

Compatriot battery-maker Freyr is developing a pair of li-ion gigafactories in Mo i Rana, in Nordland, just south of the Arctic Circle, and recently signed a long-term deal with hydropower giant Statkraft to power the facilities.

Read the full DN interview here.