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.
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.