Elkem, Hydro, and Altor partner to accelerate Vianode, the battery materials manufacturer
Elkem, Hydro, and Altor (Altor Fund V) have announced a partnership to accelerate the growth of Vianode, a producer of sustainable battery materials.
An investment decision for a potential first-phase plant at Herøya, Norway, is expected in the first half of 2022.
Vianode has developed a range of synthetic graphite products for batteries with unique performance characteristics and produced significantly lower CO2 emissions than today's standard materials – supporting the ambitions of leading battery cell and automotive manufacturers. Today, an electric vehicle (EV) contains on average 40-70 kg of graphite, representing a vital component of the battery. Vianode's products are developed based on specialized know-how in high-temperature processes, closed production systems, lower energy consumption, and access to renewable energy.
After this transaction, Hydro and Altor will each have 30 percent ownership in Vianode, while Elkem will retain the remaining 40 percent ownership.
"I would like to congratulate the parties on a very exciting industrial collaboration! The Norwegian Government has great ambitions for a green industrial boost where batteries are one of six focus areas. The purpose is to create new, green jobs, increase mainland investment, increase exports outside oil and gas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These are the kind of projects and partnerships we want more of when we now will go through the biggest restructuring of the Norwegian economy ever," states Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Jan Christian Vestre.
An investment decision for a potential first-phase plant for Vianode is expected during the first half of 2022. This plant will have approximately 100 employees and produce graphite for more than 20,000 EVs per year. A potential full-scale plant will produce graphite for more than 1 million EVs per year and is expected to increase the number of employees in Vianode to around 300, enabling more than 1,000 green jobs including external effects.
The total investments in the first-phase plans and preparations for a potential full-scale plant are estimated at around NOK 2 billion. The plant development is pending clarifications related to framework conditions, including public support mechanisms and long-term access to competitive renewable energy and grid infrastructure.
"The market for battery materials is growing at an exponential rate and developing sustainable value chains is critical for the green transformation. Vianode aims to become a leading producer of sustainable battery materials, and this represents an attractive growth opportunity for Elkem. Hydro and Altor both add significant experience and expertise in developing large-scale industrial projects in the battery value chain. Through complementary skillsets, the partnership with Hydro and Altor will contribute to making Vianode a highly valuable contribution to the European battery value chain," says Elkem CEO, Helge Aasen.
"We are excited to partner up with Elkem and Altor to industrialize Vianode. We look forward to utilizing our industry scaling capabilities including project execution for large industrial projects, our material, and process competence and experience as well as our track record from serving the car OEM segments for decades. Vianode is a good fit for our strategic direction of growth in renewable energy and new-energy solutions," says Hilde Merete Aasheim, Hydro President & CEO.
"We are thrilled to partner with Elkem and Hydro on this very exciting opportunity. Vianode is perfectly positioned to shape the future of the automotive industry and will be an important contributor to the green transition and a carbon-neutral future. We have experience from partnerships in other green transition projects where entire industries are being reshaped, and with Vianode we will build a new green EV supply chain in Europe. We are very impressed by the work Elkem has done with Vianode, and we think it will be a very exciting partnership with both Elkem and Hydro," says Tom Jovik, Principal at Altor.