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Optimized power supply for Northvolt

One of Europe's largest battery factories requires a power supply that is super-efficient and minimizes losses at all stages. ABB's electrification of Northvolt's Swedish research lab and factory provide the reliable power needed to operate and grow these operations.

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At the forefront of electrification and sustainability

Electrification is an important part of creating a more sustainable society. For example, in the automotive industry, many manufacturers are converting to carbon-neutral vehicles. Ford has said that by 2022, electrified cars will outsell those with an internal combustion engine. Volkswagen has announced that its last generation of cars with internal combustion engines - with some exceptions - will roll out in 2026.

To succeed, high quality batteries will be required. Volkswagen collaborates with Swedish company Northvolt, whose vision is to develop the world's most environmentally friendly battery and to establish one of Europe's largest and most advanced lithium-ion battery factories.

In the summer of 2019, the first shovel was taken to Northvolt Ett, the company's so-called Giga factory in Skellefteå, which will be its primary production unit. The large-scale production will initially have a production capacity of 16 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, which corresponds to approximately 300,000 electric car batteries. By 2024, capacity will increase to 32 GWh; with long term capacity projected at 40 GWh per year.

Sustainability permeates Northvolt's culture and the giga factory is thought to be the world's most environmentally friendly battery factory. Its production process is as sustainable as the products it makes. For the operation at Northvolt Ett, only renewable energy from hydropower will be used.


The solutions that give power to Northvolt

ABB was Northvolt's first partner; their collaboration agreement includes electrification of both the factory in Skellefteå and Northvolt Labs, the research facility that will soon be operational in Västerås.

“When we developed the electricity distribution to Northvolt Labs, we jointly came up with solutions that will also be used at Northvolt Ett.” said Mikael Ingo, Local Business Line Manager, Process Industries, ABB Finland.

ABB’s solution has been central to optimizing electricity distribution to minimize energy losses during operation. At the same time, operational safety is extremely important.

“There is a consideration-- how redundant the system should be and how sensitive to interference. We first built a very redundant system so that they could run production in all situations. But we have then adapted it to get a more cost-effective solution.” said Mikael Ingo.

The electricity distribution system for Northvolt is based on ABB's well-proven and robust industrial solutions. It includes gas insulated switchgear (GIS) which ensures maximum power supply. It is compact, which reduces the building footprint. ABB's GIS also requires less maintenance, ventilation and heating.

The delivery also includes a Power Management System (PMS) control system. It enables reliable remote monitoring and maintenance, and ensures that production is not affected by operational disruptions or, in the worst case, power outages. It also provides better control over energy costs and reduces climate impact.

Facts

Industry: Manufacturing

Company: Northvolt

Countries: Sweden


Electrification solutions:

  • Power Management System control system
  • 2 main transformers 145 / 33kV, 120MVA
  • 33kV GIS switchgear 94 panels, total length 80 meters
  •  60 distribution transformers
  • Approximately 35 km of high voltage cable
  • Approximately 30 km of control and fiber cable

Project framework responsibilities:

  • Design
  • Construction
  • Installation supervising
  • Start up

Also part of the partnership:

Mikael Ingo, Local Business Line Manager, Process Industries, ABB Finland
"We first built a very redundant system so that they could run production in all situations. But we have then adapted it to get a more cost-effective solution.”
"It has been crucial that we have created trust between the parties and that we have found solutions together," said Mikael Ingo, Local Business Line Manager, Process Industries, ABB Finland.

Unique challenges to electrify Northvolt Ett

While the solution is similar to ABB's other industrial installations, there were also some unique challenges to electrify Northvolt Ett.

“It is a huge factory with long distances. It is important to optimize electricity distribution through smart wiring to minimize any potential losses.” Mikael Ingo explains.“We have been working with data that is constantly changing; using this to optimize the distribution network added an interesting challenge that we were able to address.”

He emphasizes that close cooperation with Northvolt has been an important success factor.

“It has been crucial that we have created trust between the parties and that we have found solutions together.”

ABB is delivering a comprehensive solution in the Swedish market that covers everything from design and delivery of products to commissioning and monitoring; this provide numerous benefits to the customer, and to the larger industry. In Sweden, ABB has previously delivered most products, but now partnerships and total solutions are becoming more common. The customer benefits from this level of collaboration, trust, and approach to problem solving.

The collaboration with Northvolt is also fully in line with ABB's overall sustainability goals.

“Northvolt runs challenging technical solutions within sustainability, which is a priority area for ABB. They are at the forefront of where we are going.” said Mikael Ingo.
“We have been working with data that is constantly changing; using this to optimize the distribution network added an interesting challenge that we were able to address.”

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