Cleantech/Elintensive industry

The energy comes from Skellefteå

When it comes to growth and development in the field of renewable energy, the eyes of the world are on the Skellefteå region. Tens of billions of SEK are invested here - when the rest of the world fears recession, expansion is the talk of the town.
- I am absolutely convinced that we can be the model in the world that shows how to meet the climate challenges with a renewable society and innovative growth, says Joachim Nordin, President and CEO of Skellefteå Kraft.

The municipally owned power company Skellefteå Kraft is at the centre of a series of green investments and has become a partner in Northvolt and what will be Europe's largest battery factory for electric vehicles. The total cost of the first factory will be SEK 30 billion. In a collaboration with EIT InnoEnergy, the energy company is now offering startups with ideas in areas such as energy storage, mobility, grid flexibility and electrification to participate in a development programme, Accelerate Skellefteå.
- This is an initiative where we welcome Europe to join us in creating a society powered by renewable energy. We look forward to learning about new ideas that can develop Skellefteå Kraft's existing business but also generate new products and services with a focus on sustainable energy innovation," says Joachim.

The European collaborative EIT InnoEnergy has also been mandated by the European Commission to run the European Battery Alliance to ensure that Europe is no longer left behind in battery production, which is currently led by Asia. Together with Skellefteå municipality's long-term strategy towards infrastructure investments in renewable energy, the future looks very bright.
- Skellefteå is in a unique position with the energy supply available here, which appealed to Northvolt. They need green electricity to build green batteries and the high power required and that's where we come in with our renewable electricity production and our well-developed electricity grid," says Joachim.

Water and wind - a natural battery

Northvolt needs to have access to at least 300 megawatts, which is twice what the whole of Skellefteå consumes.
- This is where the world's cheapest and most stable electricity is, and it's 100 percent renewable - so we need an energy company that dares to take the plunge together with Northvolt and the municipality. We want to lead the way and show how the climate transition should take place," says Joachim.

Skellefteå Kraft has already invested in the Blaiken wind farm, which is one of the largest onshore wind farms in Europe and produces 700 gigawatt hours per year.
- Hydropower and wind power balance each other out in a renewable energy system. Wind power is a fantastic renewable source but it's not always windy, in which case plannable hydropower production is a great complement. Together, the two power sources make up Norrland's green battery," says Joachim.

Investing in electric flights

He is convinced that one will feed the other - with Northvolt as the largest energy start-up in Europe, the region needs to grow with tens of thousands of people, homes and industries. So it's important to create sustainable growth and seize the opportunities it creates. Just look at some of the examples underway:

Together with Northvolt and EIT InnoEnergy, Skellefteå Kraft is investing to establish Skellefteå Airport as a test centre for commercial electric aviation.

In 2021, Sara Kulturhus in Skellefteå will open and is expected to be one of the world's tallest wooden buildings - and the world's most energy-efficient cultural centre.

Skellefteå Kraft has partnered with ABB to connect the building's energy system with the city's energy system. Artificial intelligence will then control the flow of energy in the culture building so that it is used where it is most needed.
- We feel that we are the key to everything that happens, but there are very few things we can do entirely by ourselves, it needs to be done in collaboration with others. Our energy solutions are therefore often developed through collaborations with smaller innovation-driven companies," says Joachim. And that's where the EIT InnoEnergy comes in.

The world's largest programme

Since its inception, when Northvolt consisted of three people, EIT InnoEnergy has invested around SEK 100 million in the company. Today, EIT InnoEnergy has established an office in Skellefteå to be on the ground where it all happens. From here, EIT InnoEnergy will support start-ups in sustainable energy and electrification. Its accelerator programme, Highway, is the world's largest in the energy sector and includes 300 companies in Europe that have been created following a unique model.
- Our portfolio is based on sustainable thinking where startups are given time to grow. Our mission is to support innovations that can grow and become embryos for the industry of the future. It all boils down to the foresight and opportunities we see here, especially in the traditional basic industries like mining and energy, which will be important partners to link with start-ups and innovation," says Kenneth Johansson, CEO of EIT InnoEnergy Scandinavia.

Already today, there are initiatives together with Skellefteå Kraft and the municipality.
- You can say that the efforts rest on three concrete legs so far: more education, more infrastructure and creating more opportunities for small entrepreneurs, says Kenneth.

Their role can also be to make use of existing companies in the portfolio and bring their know-how to Skellefteå.
- We have a whole menu of entrepreneurs whose initiatives can be useful in the region. It puts Skellefteå on the map, we create supply chains, a stronger economy and ultimately more jobs, Kenneth says.

Before ideas become commercially viable, there is always a time of financial uncertainty, and EIT InnoEnergy is there to guarantee that.
- We have the muscle to invest early and we have good evidence of things that would never have happened if we hadn't stepped in. Investing with the confidence that exists here and in such a nascent environment, we are talking about extremely good conditions - if you get all the parties to work together, you get good results," says Kenneth.


Senast uppdaterad:
2 March 2023