FREYR taps umlaut for new lithium battery factory in Norway

24 September 2020 3 min. read

Norwegian lithium battery specialist FREYR is powering ahead with its plans for a mammoth production factory in Mo i Rana in Norway, and has brought German consultancy umlaut on board for technology support.

The factory is expected to be among the largest lithium-ion battery (LIB) production facilities in Europe, and is due for completion by 2021. Having signed a framework agreement, umlaut will act in a concept development, planning and general project management capacity.

Services in the agreement include support with production technology, design of the battery cells themselves, energy optimisation and developing specifications for factory machinery. As an interdisciplinary consulting firm specialised in management, engineering and technology services, umlaut is well positioned to deliver on these promises.

The firm serves various industries, and specialises in end-to-end project management offerings that range from the strategy & innovation phase through to testing & validation and all the way to implementation. Also in their roster is expertise in tech, data analytics and IT security. An independent firm headquartered in Aachen, Germany, umlaut is part of the global consulting network Nextcontinent, which gives it access to nearly 4,000 experts across some 40 countries.

Mo i Rana, Norway

According to partner at umlaut Sören Schrader, the project being undertaken by FREYR – which is backed by a multi-million investment from EIT InnoEnergy – is of tremendous significance for the booming electric vehicle market in Europe, and might just be an answer to growing international competition.

“The global market for electrical vehicle batteries continues to grow steadily while the corresponding value and supply chains are optimised almost on a daily basis. Production plants for battery cells are becoming more and more fully automated and Asian manufacturers are operating their first production facilities in Europe – close to their customers. FREYR has understood the advantages and optimisation potential of European cell production and scores with its location and the implementation of a smart factory concept to be a credible player in the market,” said Schrader.

Norway’s edge

For Tom Einar Jensen, CEO of FREYR, the project’s location in Norway makes it the ideal place to build international competitiveness. “100% renewable energy at globally competitive prices, deep expertise in energy intensive and process industries, a stable and well-regulated high quality labour market, a solid outlook for raw material supplies in the Nordic countries, and close proximity to the market has made and will continue to make Norway a global leader in green, energy-intensive industries,” he said.

FREYR’s strategy to build this kind of scale and capacity is to partner with deep tech experts from across the globe. Other partners such as Norconsult, Rambøll and Metire OEC have also been part of the project in varying capacities, while a new Chief Technology Officer and former electric vehicle pioneer at Dyson and Nissan – Ryuta Kawaguchi – has been flown in from Japan to head the project. umlaut is the latest in this string of partnerships.

“umlaut is a global battery technology specialist based in the core automotive nation of Germany. By bringing them into our project, we are building an even stronger team to execute our plan,” said Einar Kilde, Chief Operating Officer at FREYR.

Kilde added that the project had powered through even through the Covid-19 crisis, and is largely on track for completion in time. Where Asian producers have outperformed European manufacturers to date when it comes to the production of batteries, the Mo i Rana plant might well give Europe a leg up in the global race.