Northvolt could postpone building new gigafactory in Germany

Swedish electric car battery specialist Northvolt could postpone building a factory in northern Germany due to the energy crisis and enticing subsidies in the United States, its boss said Saturday.

Northvolt could postpone building new gigafactory in Germany
The battery group announced it would build the plant in March, as Europe seeks to ramp up its capacity to produce electric cars. Photo: Jonathan NACKSTRAND/AFP

The project “could be postponed,” Peter Carlsson told German daily Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung.

The battery group announced it would build the plant in March, as Europe seeks to ramp up its capacity to produce electric cars. The factory was expected to open in 2025 and have an annual production capacity of 60 gigawatt hours — enough to supply around one million cars per year.

But it was also to consume up to two terawatt hours per year.

“With current electricity prices, we see the profitability of energy-intense projects in Germany threatened,” Carlsson said.

Germany used to depend on Russia for 55 percent of its gas supplies before the invasion of Ukraine in February, and has since had to find supplies elsewhere at much higher prices, pushing up electricity bills.

The United States was also providing an attractive incentive, Carlsson said, after the US Senate in August approved a clean energy and climate bill that includes a $7,500 tax credit for every American who buys an electric vehicle from a North American factory that installs US-made electric batteries.

Brussels has said this would deeply disadvantage non-US companies that source their batteries elsewhere.

“We are now at a point where we can give priority to expansion in the United States over Europe,” Carlsson said, estimating that producing batteries could cost 30 to 40 percent less there.

“The United States could become the most interesting place in the world to make battery cells,” he added, calling on the European Union to “counter the American financial incentives.”

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Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

Germany and Norway want to start a NATO-led alliance to protect critical underwater infrastructure, their leaders said on Wednesday, weeks after explosions hit two key gas pipelines in the fallout from the war in Ukraine.

Norway and Germany seek Nato-led cooperation for key undersea structures

 “We are in the process of asking the NATO Secretary General to set up a coordination office for the protection of underwater infrastructure,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a press conference in Berlin.

“We take the protection of our critical infrastructure very seriously and nobody should believe that attacks will remain without consequences,” he said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said the alliance would be “an informal initiative to exchange between civilian and also military actors” with NATO providing “a centre, a coordination point”.

Underwater cables and pipelines were “arteries of the modern economy” and it was necessary to create “a coordinated joint effort to ensure security for this infrastructure”, he said.

Scholz said he and Store would propose the plan to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is due in Berlin for a security conference. The Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines off the Danish island of Bornholm were targeted by two huge explosions at the end of September.

The pipelines, which connect Russia to Germany, had been at the centre of geopolitical tensions as Moscow cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected
retaliation to Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Although they were not in operation when the leaks occurred, they both still contained gas which spewed up through the water and into the atmosphere.

Russia and Western countries, particularly the United States, have traded bitter barbs over who is responsible for the blasts.

Several European countries have since taken steps to increase security around critical infrastructure. 

The G7 interior ministers warned earlier this month at a meeting in Germany that the Nord Stream explosions had highlighted “the need to better protect our critical infrastructure”.

Norway has become Europe’s main gas supplier in the wake of the war in Ukraine, taking the place of Russia.

The Scandinavian country has a vast network of pipelines, stretching for almost 9,000 kilometres, linking it to the continent, which experts have said are at risk of sabotage.