Wants to be Europe’s biggest battery recycling company
When his daughter was born in 2020, battery entrepreneur Radu Achihai wanted to get out of the oil industry. Now he wants to become one of the leaders in what is currently Norway’s fastest growing industry.
The battery production industry saw the largest percentage growth in new jobs over the past year among all medium and large industries in Norway; new jobs nearly doubled, rising from 330 to 650. There are also many new jobs in battery production, repurposing and recycling. At the same time, there’s a long way to go to reach the goal of 30,000 new battery-related jobs by 2030 (a topic previously covered by Tekna Magasinet).
From oil to batteries
Tekna member Radu Achihai and Evyon AS have provided four of the new battery jobs over the past year, increasing from 18 to 22. He and his company have a three-year-old girl to thank for this growth.
"I decided to start working in something besides oil when my daughter was born in 2020. I felt a desire to help build a better world for other people’s children as well as my own," Achihai says.
This same year Achihai started collaborating with startup fund Antler. It was here he met business parter Jørgen Erdal, and together they started the battery company Evyon in order to provide customers with recycled batteries at a lower price than new battery systems. Their goal is to provide battery systems for industrial energy storage.
The entire value chain is growing
Evyon’s battery repurposing is part of a new and growing value chain for batteries in Norway, explains Lars Kvadsheim, Director of HR and Sustainability in battery company Freyr (see the graph below):
- The value chain starts with extracting and processing raw materials for batteries, of which Vianode will produce graphite anode at a new factory located in the Herøya Industrial Park in Telemark.
- The battery materials can be used by battery producers that include Freyr, which is located in Mo i Rana.
- The battery cells are used to make battery modules and battery packs. Corbus Energy in Bergen uses battery cells to produce battery packs for providing power to the maritime industry.
- Finally, battery recycling takes place by companies such as Hydrovolt in Fredrikstad, and battery repurposing by companies that include Evyon in Oslo.
Used for mobility and energy storage
Kvadsheim explains that any new investment in batteries will mainly be used for vehicles and energy storage:
- The most well-known goal is for vehicles like electric cars, trucks, busses, boats and construction equipment.
- Energy storage with batteries can produce better utilization of weather dependent solar and wind power.
- Energy storage with batteries can also be used to regulate power grid usage in order to avoid putting major strains on its capacity.
Looking for clarification in the National Budget
The American industrial investment in the green transition, Inflation Reduction ACT (IRA), has created uncertainty for several Norwegian battery projects: for instance, Corvus Energy has delayed building a new battery factory outside of Bergen, opting instead to make a large investment in the US. In addition, Freyr has what the company calls “adapted progress” with regard to its ongoing construction of battery cell factory Giga Arctic in Mo I Rana, while construction of a new factory in the US has been accelerated.
The EU has responded by starting to allow member countries to provide subsidies for green industries. Freyr now hopes that the National Budget will provide even more risk relief for green investments in Norway. Director of HR and Sustainability, Lars Kvadsheim, believes that it’s still possible to create 30,000 new battery jobs.
"Norway still makes environmentally friendly energy from hydroelectric power. We also have highly competent engineers and a high level of trust, both of which lead to independent production teams. We can also guarantee supplies compared with China, for instance. And even though the American IRA has gotten a bit ahead of Europe, we still have the same big plans in Norway that we’ve always had," Kvadsheim says.
Chose Norway after the butter crisis
Before starting Evyon in 2020, Norwegian-Romanian Radu Achihai worked in the oil services companies Schlumberger and Visuray. He was in fact working for Schlumberger in Libya when civil war broke out there in 2011; he was soon transferred to the Bergen office.
"Everyone was talking about the butter crisis when we moved to Norway in 2011, " he says. "It was quite a contrast to go from civil war in Libya to a butter crisis in Norway! My wife and I talked about how Norway must be a good country given that a butter crisis could create such big headlines in the country’s media. We decided in the end to settle here, and we haven’t regretted it."
Evyon has already started serial production of battery packs in Finland, with Germany being the company’s most important market. Production will be greatly increased in January 2024. Achihai and a co-founder are the primary owners along with Skagerak Energi and Antler.
"Our goal is to become the biggest battery recycler in Europe by 2025. And by 2030 our goal is to be a world leader in environmentally friendly solutions for energy storage," says Achihai.