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Northvolt and energy group Galp have set up a joint company, Aurora, that aims to develop Europe’s largest, most sustainable lithium plant in Portugal and strengthen Europe’s position within the battery value chain. The plant is set to have an initial annual production capacity of up to 35,000 tons of battery-grade lithium hydroxide – a critical material required by the lithium-ion battery manufacturing industry.

The plant will use a proven conversion process, leveraging recent process improvements and technologies to increase sustainability and efficiency.

Additionally, the JV is seeking to enable use of green energy to power the conversion process, thereby minimising and eventually avoiding reliance on natural gas as is the conventional approach.

The JV is currently conducting technical and economic studies, and looking at several possible site locations.

The JV expects a start of operations by year’s end 2025, and start of commercial operations in 2026. 

The plant will be able to deliver lithium hydroxide sufficient for 50 GWh of battery production per year (sufficient for approximately 700,000 electric vehicles).

As part of the agreement, Northvolt will secure an offtake for up to 50% of the plant’s capacity for use in its battery manufacturing.

Paolo Cerruti, Co-Founder and COO of Northvolt, says: “The development of a European battery manufacturing industry provides tremendous economic and societal opportunity for the region. Extending the new European value chain upstream to include raw materials is of critical importance. This joint venture represents a major investment into this area, and will position Europe with not only a path to domestic supply of key materials required in the manufacturing of batteries, but the opportunity to set a new standard for sustainability in raw materials sourcing. This initiative comes to complement a global sourcing strategy based on high sustainability standards, diversified sources and reduced exposure to geopolitical risks”.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reposition Europe as a leader in an industry that will be vital to bringing down global CO2 emissions, in line with European and Portuguese climate-change priorities,” adds Galp CEO, Andy Brown. “To be successful in this drive, we must all work together, industry and decision makers, with a sense of urgency, because if we do not claim this role today, others will.”

Northvolt has to date secured in excess of $27 billion worth of contracts from key customers, including BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars and Polestar, to support its plans, which include establishing recycling capabilities to enable 50 percent of all its raw material requirements to be sourced from recycled batteries by 2030.

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