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Swedish Startup Northvolt's Sodium-Ion Battery Innovation Reduces Europe's China Dependence

29 Nov, 2023

By hoppt


According to the British "Financial Times" on the 21st, Northvolt, a Swedish startup backed by investors like Volkswagen, BlackRock, and Goldman Sachs, announced a significant breakthrough in the development of sodium-ion batteries. This advancement is touted as a means to significantly reduce Europe's dependency on China during its green transition. Despite the intent to compete with China in research and development, Europe continues to rely on support from the Chinese battery industry chain. Stellantis, the fourth-largest automaker globally, declared on the 21st that its European market vehicles would receive battery components from China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL).

A report from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute states that nearly 90% of the global patents related to sodium battery technology originate from China, with CATL already achieving success in developing sodium-ion batteries. German media note that batteries currently account for about 40% of the production cost of electric vehicles, primarily lithium-ion batteries. The high cost of lithium has sparked great interest in alternatives. Northvolt's batteries differentiate in their cathode materials, which are among the most significant cost components in electric vehicle batteries, excluding critical raw materials like lithium, nickel, manganese, or cobalt.

According to material experts at the Fraunhofer Institute, sodium can be obtained in Germany through relatively inexpensive methods, such as from sodium chloride. Peter Carlsson, CEO and co-founder of Northvolt, told the "Financial Times" that this advantage could free Europe from reliance on China's strategic supply chain. Martin Osaz, a German expert in energy application materials chemistry, says that the future price trends of key components in lithium-ion batteries will decisively impact the cost advantage of sodium.

As reported by German Battery News on the 21st, Northvolt has raised hopes among many European enterprises. Since 2017, the company has raised over $9 billion in equity and debt capital and has secured orders worth over $55 billion from clients like Volkswagen, BMW, Scania, and Volvo.

Yu Qingjiao, Secretary-General of the Zhongguancun New Battery Technology Innovation Alliance, told "Global Times" reporters on the 22nd that global research on next-generation batteries mainly focuses on two paths: sodium-ion and solid-state batteries. The latter falls under the category of lithium-ion batteries, differing only in electrolyte form. He predicts that existing liquid lithium batteries will remain the market's mainstay for the next decade, with sodium-ion batteries expected to be a strong complement to lithium-ion battery market applications.

Yu Qingjiao analyzed that as important trade partners, China and the European Union have a certain complementarity in their trade goods structure. Until Europe's new energy vehicle and battery industry chain truly develops, it will continue to be a primary destination for the export and overseas layout of China's battery industry chain.


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