Fryer Technology Director: – Obviously, our strongest competitors will be Chinese suppliers

Fryer Technology Director: – Obviously, our strongest competitors will be Chinese suppliers

Lyssachar, Barum: The challenge of building an all-electric race car was given to Eric Borsheim (35 years old) To redoHe defined his master's thesis as being about integrating lithium-ion batteries into propulsion systems.

Today, global demand for his special expertise is part of what industry organization Norsk Industri calls “battery time pressure.”

-We were a group of above average interested people who started a project called Revolve NTNU. We built the first all-electric race car in Norway when we were in the third year of our studies. That made it very clear to me that batteries were something I wanted to work with in the future, says Borsheim, who today serves as SVP (Vice President) of Product and Technology Development at Freyr Battery.

– the time now

The former student in NTNU's Department of Energy and Environment leads a team that includes everything from master's and doctoral candidates recently graduated from Norwegian universities to leading battery experts brought in from abroad.

In 2022, the government introduced the Norway Battery Strategy, with ten measures that will put Norway at the forefront of the battery industry.

One move included a significant investment in developing national expertise across the value chain.

– the time now. Obviously, our strongest competitors in the battery industry will be Chinese suppliers, and on the customer side there is a strategic drive to create a secure supply chain, says Borsheim, who has worked at Freer since 2020.

Eric Borsheim leads a large-scale team based out of Freyr Battery's head office in Lyssacre, Florida ingvild Brekke Espedal, Colleen Ringdalen McDonald, Lars Johansen and Brian Chiu Photo: Magnus Ros

She still believes in new jobs

Menon Economics estimates that the battery industry could contribute between 3,250 and 13,400 new jobs in 2030. According to the report, “Employment and implications for Norwegian battery cell production»written on behalf of the Norwegian Engineering and Technology Organization (NETTO) in 2022, access to expertise is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving a high growth scenario for the battery sector.

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News of new facilities and workplaces has continued to circulate, giving hope for employment and activity in many local communities in recent years. In 2021, battery company Morrow announced that the project in Arendal would lead to 2,500 new jobs, while Freyr's expansion into Mo i Rana would require at least 1,500 employees, many with engineering degrees.

Elizabeth Middle, HR director at Morrow Batteries, confirms that the company's need for new employees has not changed over the past two years.

-We have planned to establish several gigafactories, and upon completion, we expect our number of employees to reach 2,500 employees. “I think it's a cautious estimate, but that's what we're comfortable with,” Medel says.

Freyr gets rid of the staff

In November, it was announced that Freyr's planned battery factory in Mo i Rana, Giga Arctic, had been put on hold, and that the company would focus on building the factory in the United States. “Norway and Europe have not yet provided a competitive response to the US IRA or similar incentives in Canada,” the company wrote in its quarterly report. the It was also learned that 78 employees had to leave.

Eric Borsheim works at Freyr Battery's head office in Lyssacker, Oslo 13.12.23
Erik Borsheim has not lost confidence in investing in Norwegian batteries, but he is concerned that the pace of expansion is not fast enough. Photo: Magnus Ros

Freyr's CTO believes that an incorrect picture of the situation at the battery company was communicated and that the dismissals were conducted in an orderly and transparent manner. The fact that his employer is now shifting his focus away from Norway has nothing to do with the 35-year-old's motivations.

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– It's changed a little for me. It is a restructuring process that will make us a more efficient company. It makes it possible for those of us who work with technology to confront existing challenges and work focused on solving complex problems, says Borsheim.

A tough battle for efficiency

Syndicate technology Concerns that the postponement and halt in important investments in renewable industries in Norway will exacerbate the employment problems already plaguing renewable industries.

– It is very important that postponing investment in batteries does not stop Norway's green transition, and that renewable industries do not lose this efficiency, says Elisabeth Haugesbø, President of Tekna.

She points out that there is a fierce battle over employment in Norway today, especially engineers.

Colleague Lars Johansen, who was also part of early electric vehicle investment in Norway, is part of the team with which Borsheim collaborates on strategic technology development at Frere at the Lysaker head office in Baarum. Photo: Magnus Ros

Borsheim agrees that there is a risk that Norway does not have enough experience in expanding the battery industry. It is also believed that there is a danger that the person we have abroad will disappear.

– I'm worried about that. It is urgent to hone the expertise that exists in Norway today and gain important experience from the battery industry. Now I answer on behalf of the Norwegian battery industry. There are many exciting projects being undertaken around the world, and there is a high demand for people with the right skills.

He believes Norway could be attractive to battery specialists by offering world-leading facilities for laboratory work, but the infrastructure needed to run large-scale production must be in place.

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There is a lot of competition for resources in the European and American markets. What we have to be competitive on is, of course, wages, etcWe must also have the necessary infrastructure in Norway to be able to drive sensible technological development and product development.

Hanisi Anenih

Hanisi Anenih

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