Climate change has created huge global demand for sustainable battery technologies and services as countries set targets for reducing their CO2 emissions. Finland is the only country in the world that can manage the whole battery value chain from minerals to recycling and thus plays an important role in the global shift towards electrification.
The role of batteries has become inevitably important in the increasingly electrifying world. This has resulted in the emergence of battery ecosystems and value chains, such as the European one, aiming to respond to the constantly growing demand.
Finland has set a target to become carbon neutral by 2035. As part of the process, in January 2021, Finland was among the first countries in the world to publish a national battery strategy, presenting ways for Finland to develop into a competitive, competent and sustainable player in the international battery industry. The cornerstones of the strategy are the availability and processing of raw materials, vigorous production and research activities for the development of battery materials and recycling, and expertise in electrification and digitalization. Finland also wants to promote the circular economy of batteries.
“Finland not only has all the key minerals for batteries but also outstanding competence in research and production. Finland is therefore ready to play a significant role in building the complete value chain for batteries” says Mr. Mika Lintilä, Minister of Economic Affairs of Finland. “We are eager to build dialogue with other countries on halving transport emissions by 2030 and, in connection to this goal, on developing asustainable battery industry. Responsible operations, traceability, safety and carbon neutrality are guiding principles for the Finnish battery sector - from minerals to recycling.”
EUROPEAN HOT SPOT FOR A SUSTAINABLE, GREEN BATTERY ECOSYSTEM
Finland has expertise throughout the battery value chain, from the mining industry and processing of raw materials to technologies and services related to the manufacture and use of batteries, as well as charging technologies and recycling. Finnish companies – from large operators to SMEs and startups - offer competitive concepts and knowhow across the whole battery production value chain, with world-class expertise in chemistry, processing, engineering and energy.
“Finland is known for its innovativeness and thus offers a great place for testing and piloting the new generation of electric and electrified vehicles and machines that will be running on battery power. Building a sustainable, circular, green battery ecosystem supports our goal of a zero carbon society and is achieved through the continued long-term and close collaboration between the public and private sectors”, says Mr. Ilkka Homanen, Head of Smart Mobility and Batteries from Finland at Business Finland, the Finnish trade, travel and investment promotion and innovation funding organization.
Finland's unique battery ecosystem also offers attractive investment opportunities. Consistently ranked among the best business environments in the world, Finland is known for its highly educated workforce, reliable infrastructure and transparent and stable society. Latest investment news in the energy sector include Johnson Matthey’s sustainable battery materials plant in Vaasa, and the Australian Critical Metals’ and Neometals’ decision to build a sustainable vanadium recovery and production facility in Pori, Finland.
Offering world-class opportunities from the beginning to the end along the value chain, Finland is also an attractive market for global talents.
“There’s a lot going on within the industry in Finland at the moment, which creates an extremely attractive opportunity for foreign investors as well as talents looking for industry hot spots”, Homanen continues. “International collaboration is very important for the Finnish battery ecosystem and the country’s integral role as part of the European battery value chain has been recognized. At the same time, Finland can also be considered as the gateway from Asia into the European battery ecosystem.”
One of the key elements of a sustainable and competitive battery ecosystem is recycling and Finland has been chosen to coordinate the European battery industry's research on the topic. "We are known for high-quality research and we are constantly looking into new subjects, one of the latest ones being the life-cycle assessment of battery recycling for example. The main goal of all our research is to find ways to return, in an economically viable way, as big a proportion as possible of the battery materials to battery production. It’s important to understand both the primary process as well as the secondary process in order to fully optimize the refining chain," says Ms. Mari Lundström, professor in Aalto University Finland.
BASF SUPPORTS THE SUSTAINABLE EUROPEAN BATTERY VALUE CHAIN WITH A PLANT IN FINLAND
Finland is one of the few European countries where the ground contains all the key minerals needed to make lithium-ion batteries: cobalt, nickel, lithium and graphite. Availability of resources combined with technology and research expertise and culture for innovation, make Finland a favorable location for companies and researchers to build and grow their European operations.
The German multinational chemical company BASF focuses on the cathode active materials needed in the battery production phase, which is one of the biggest growth areas of the chemical market. They are building their first European battery materials production facility to Harjavalta, Finland reinforcing their support towards the European battery production value chain. BASF contributes to the development of a sustainable battery ecosystem by reducing the use of energy in the production phase, using renewable energy sources and low CO2 raw materials as well as through significantly shortened supply chains.
“Our goal is to become a market-leading CAM supplier globally with the best-in-class sustainability and CO2 footprint. We believe that local production and local content for battery materials are key to ensure a resilient and sustainable supply chain, which is one of the reasons we decided to locate our precursor cathode active materials plant in Finland. Furthermore, Finland has the required raw materials and technical expertise needed for successful operations. Mineral and chemical production in Finland is conducted in accordance with robust environmental regulations and stringent sustainability principles”, says Mr. Tor Stendahl, Country Manager Finland, General Manager Nordic Battery Materials & Metal Services at BASF.
FORTUM REVOLUTIONIZING THE LITHIUM-ION BATTERY VALUE CHAIN FOR EVS AND INDUSTRIES
The sustainable use of natural resources means the circulation of raw materials, sustainable use of biomass, energy and material efficiency, and use of renewable energy. When it comes to the global trend of electrification, recycling of batteries will become a major global challenge in the future.
Fortum secures a fast and reliable transition to a carbon neutral economy by providing customers and societies with clean energy and sustainable solutions. Fortum is revolutionizing the lithium-ion battery value chain for electric vehicles and industrial use batteries. Their low-CO2 recycling solution makes over 80% of the battery recyclable, returns the scarce metals used back into circulation, and resolves the sustainability gap by complementing the need to mine nickel, cobalt, lithium and other scarce metals.
“The growing need for batteries consumes enormous amounts of rare metals. If we run out of these scarce metals, we can bid farewell to further electrification and the increasing use of renewable energy sources. As pioneers of electrification based on renewables, this is a challenge we need to resolve. We need an efficient life cycle for lithium-ion batteries. That’s why Fortum has developed solutions for every stage of the life cycle as well as a sustainable way to recycle the majority of the materials used in batteries and use them to create new ones. We will renew the value chain for lithium-ion batteries to enable a cleaner, electrified future,” says Mr. Tero Holländer, Head of BL Batteries, Fortum.
SANDVIK'S VISION TO BE THE MARKET LEADER IN ELECTRIC MINING SOLUTIONS
Finland is combating climate change in a sustainable manner and the aim towards a zero-carbon society with electrification is at the very heart of this effort. Electrification is one of the key solutions in enabling mining companies and contractors around the world towards more sustainable operations in mineral mining.
Electrification of mining equipment enables the elimination of underground exhaust emissions and improves the sustainability of a mining operation while also reducing ventilation and fuel costs. Sandvik supports the transition with their highly automated and electrified equipment. A new suite of electric equipment will be introduced by the end of 2021, covering a full range of battery-tramming rigs for all underground drilling applications.
“Electrification is at the core of making mining more sustainable, efficient and Finland is at the forefront leading the way. Sandvik has long experience and strong track record with electrification. We aim to trigger adoption of fully electric solutions that provide both significant business and EHS (environmental, health & safety) benefits. We have an ambitious plan to lead the market with our electric battery offering,” says Dr. Jani Vilenius, Director Technology Development and Services at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.
“Finland has all the key components needed for leading the way towards a sustainable future through batteries and electrification. We offer innovations, high-tech production operations and research knowhow that create added value for the whole battery ecosystem worldwide,” Homanen concludes.
This article was first published on May 12 by Business Finland,