May 15, 2018 / 10:06 AM / 3 months ago

Japan's Marubeni signs MOU with Sweden's Northvolt on battery biz

TOKYO, May 15 (Reuters) - Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp said on Tuesday it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt AB to collaborate in a lithium-ion battery business to meet growing demand in Europe.

Northvolt, whose Chief Executive Officer Peter Carlsson used to work for Tesla, plans to build Europe’s biggest battery cell plant in Sweden, with the backing of investors such as Volkswagen-owned truckmaker Scania and Swiss engineering group ABB.

Marubeni is considering supplying Northvolt’s battery factory with manufacturing equipment such as coating and slitting machines as well as raw materials including cathode and anode materials, a company spokeswoman said.

The Japanese trading company also plans to support the Swedish firm’s sales of storage batteries, using its know-how in the renewable energy business, while the two companies are looking at jointly developing an battery recycling business, it added.

Energy storage is becoming increasingly important as production of renewable energy rises, because the wind might not blow or the sun shine during the peak hours when most consumers turn on their lights and appliances.

Northvolt competes against rivals such as South Korea’s LG Chem to set up large-scale battery cell plants across Europe, where automakers and industrial firms have so far been largely reliant on Asian imports.

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas has also signed a partnership deal with Northvolt.

Asked whether Marubeni will invest in the Northvolt’s battery project, the spokeswoman declined to comment. (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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