“Battery production can create new, green jobs and more export opportunities for the Norwegian economy. And that’s exactly what we need right now,” says the CEO of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), Ole Erik Almlid.
Agder Energi and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten’s NOAH AS are two industrial heavyweights that are now launching Morrow Batteries. The initiative originally comes from Frederic Hauge and environmental conservation organisation Bellona, which has worked with the technology and development of the company since 2015. Bellona will also be involved as a minority shareholder.
“Before long, battery production will grow to be a new major global industry. Norway has a dual competitive advantage because 1) we already have a world-class processing industry and 2) we have access to clean energy and strong research communities. This makes good sense, both as an investment and as a contribution to the development of climate-friendly technology,” says investor Bjørn Rune Gjelsten.
New value cluster
SINTEF, Innovation Norway, the EYDE-Cluster and raw material suppliers are among the partners already committed to the project. A location close to the European continent, good access to raw materials and a surplus of renewable energy makes Agder the perfect choice for sustainable battery production.
“Morrow’s goal is to develop a new, green major industry. If Norway succeeds in conquering 2.5 percent of the European battery cell market, SINTEF believes this will create around 10,000 new jobs. Hydropower has been essential for the development of Norwegian industry. Renewable energy can now mark the start of a new chapter in Norwegian industrial history,” says Steffen Syvertsen, CEO of Agder Energy.
Morrow Batteries will be building a research centre and production facility to supply the rapidly growing markets for batteries with both today’s and tomorrow’s technology.
“Five years of hard and persistent work has made this technology investable. We have developed patents, gathered expertise and acquired capital. This has formed the basis for a potentially new industrial adventure with tremendous value creation, employment and export potential,” says Frederic Hauge, founder of Bellona.
Rapidly growing market
Earlier this week, IEA released a new report that shows that the sale of electric cars increased by 90 percent in France, Germany, Italy and Great Britain during the first four months of the year. According to the SINTEF report ‘New opportunities for value creation in Norway’, the value of the European battery cell market alone is expected to grow to NOK 1,000 billion in annual turnover in 2040. The battery factory to be built by Swedish Northvolts already has VW as one of its owners and is valued at close to SEK 20 billion. The potential to establish more battery factories is enormous. The challenge is that today’s battery production is far from sustainable. This is not only due to the use of minerals, but the fact that, at present, a large percentage of all electric car batteries are produced at European car factories in China, Japan and Korea. And the majority of electric car batteries are produced using highly polluting coal power.
“We’re going to be experiencing an electrification of major functions in society. Sustainable battery production will offer a significant competitive advantage in that shift,” says Bjørn Rune Gjelsten.
“The entire battery value chain is relevant in Norway. We need a national, action-oriented battery strategy that enables accelerated efforts,” says Ole Erik Almlid.
Circular industry chain
Terje Andersen, who boasts many years of experience in international leadership roles in EY and PwC and is currently head of EY’s digital innovation efforts in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, will be in charge of the new company. He stresses that this effort demands a comprehensive Norwegian battery-focused effort in which venture investors, industrial stakeholders and research and innovation communities are all working for the same cause.
“Access to batteries is one of the greatest challenges of the green shift and we have an advantage that can make Norway a major battery-producing country. We have spent two years creating the Morrow ecosystem. As we now progress to the marketing phase, it is with the support of two major players and in close collaboration with Norway’s leading communities in the processing industry, research and education,” says Terje Andersen, CEO of Morrow Batteries.
One of the main arguments for the establishment of Morrow is that it is important to get started right away with large-scale battery production in order to meet the demand in the explosively growing markets.
The company is starting up with expertise, financing, agreements, strategy and technology platform that provide a solid foundation for quickly establishing the large-scale production of Lithium-ion batteries using today’s technology, while simultaneously developing tomorrow’s Lithium-sulphur batteries. There will be a major demand for both types of battery technologies in the years to come.
Battery battle started with A-ha
Bellona has been working with batteries since Frederic Hauge and pop group A-ha jointly imported Norway’s first electric car back in 1988. Through its efforts to solidify the Norwegian electric car benefits, Bellona has been internationally recognised for having accelerated the electrification of the transport sector. Thanks to the partnership with Tesla established in 2008, over ten percent of cars produced by the company in its first few years were sold in Norway. This was of major importance for Tesla at its start up.
“The way I see it, if we are to stop the escalating climate crisis, the world needs to switch from fossil to renewable energy production as quickly as possible. A critical factor for ensuing a stable energy supply from renewable energy sources like solar and wind power is the possibility to store energy. This was one of the reasons why I started working to develop tomorrow’s battery technology,” says the founder of Bellona, who presented the work done by BEBA and Graphene Batteries to Bjørn Rune Gjelsten three years ago.
He began working on an initiative for a large-scale battery industry in Norway back in 2010. The collaboration with Graphene Batteries dates to 2015. This partnership later formed the basis for Bellona launching the battery company BEBA together with NOAH and Bjørn Rune Gjelsten as investor in 2017. BEBA has since invested, developed and documented technical breakthroughs in Graphene Batteries and in the development of the technology for the batteries of the future and solutions that improve conventional battery technology.
BEBA has achieved impressive results through its work with Graphene Batteries. They have acquired research funding in the amount of NOK 18 million from Innovation Norway, the Research Council of Norway and the EU Commission. This funding is now being funnelled to Morrow Batteries in taking over the company’s rights, an established research staff, laboratory and technology platform for the battery technology of today and tomorrow.