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Elkem selects location for large-scale battery-graphite plant

| By Mary Bailey

Elkem ASA (Oslo, Norway) has selected Herøya Industrial Park as the site for a potential large-scale plant for battery graphite production in Norway. The project, named Northern Recharge, aims to supply the fast-growing battery industry through a competitive production process and make batteries greener with lower CO2 emissions.

Elkem is currently constructing a pilot plant for battery graphite in Kristiansand, Norway. The pilot, which represents an investment of NOK 65 million, aims to conclude process route and qualify products, and is expected to open in the beginning of 2021.

Based on conclusions from the pilot, Elkem will evaluate the basis for competitive industrial production with its Northern Recharge project. The project has now selected Herøya Industrial Park, one of the biggest industrial parks in Norway, as the site for a potential large-scale plant.“The production of battery materials represents one of Elkem’s biggest growth opportunities. The demand for batteries is surging, as a result of the rapid growth of electrification in transport and increasing need for energy storage in a sustainable future. This requires new production capacity for battery materials, and we see significant opportunities for a specialised product with a green footprint,” says CEO of Elkem, Michael Koenig.

Graphite is the leading anode material in lithium-ion battery cells and demand is expected to increase more than ten times from today’s level to 2030. Elkem’s Northern Recharge project aims to take a competitive position in this market, contribute to a strong European battery industry and build new Norwegian export industry based on renewable hydropower.

“It is a pleasure to announce that we have selected Herøya Industrial Park as the site for our Northern Recharge project. This enables us to build a highly cost-effective plant with good access to renewable energy, potentially lowering CO2 emissions by 90 percent compared to alternatives based on fossil energy. We also secure close proximity to our pilot plant and internationally leading research environments within material technology,” says vice president for Elkem Battery Materials, Stian Madshus.

Elkem will progress the project towards a planned final investment decision in 2021. A large-scale plant can potentially create new, green industry jobs in Norway as well as positive ripple effects. Elkem will invite industrial and financial partners to participate in the project.

A positive investment decision requires competitive public support mechanisms and supportive government policies. Elkem will present the Northern Recharge project in Oslo today at the launch of the report “Green electrical value chains as an export opportunity” chaired by Arvid Moss, president of The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO).

“Elkem’s Northern Recharge project demonstrates the vast potential we have in Norway to take key positions in the battery value chain. However, other countries are also positioning to attract green investments. For Norway to realise our potential, we need to see public-private partnerships, public support mechanisms and supportive policies developing with sufficient speed and scale, enabling us to win in this global competition,” says Moss.

Rechargeable batteries are used in a wide range of applications, from consumer electronics to electric vehicles and battery storage power stations. Graphite, as anode material, typically represents around 10 percent of the battery weight. In addition to the supply of battery materials, Elkem is a supplier of advanced silicone solutions for battery packs, protection of electronics and cable protection.