Not only are large investments planned in the Finnish battery industry, but Kotka and Hamina are establishing battery material production plants. The opportunities and added value of this new industry addition to the Kymenlaakso area are broad.
The battery industry is developing worldwide as the demand for batteries for electric vehicles and stationary storage applications is growing. In addition to ongoing battery projects all over Finland, there are plans to build battery material plants in Kotka and Hamina.
Recently, investments related to battery production have been thriving due to the growing demand for batteries. Over the next 5 years in Finland, the investments are estimated to be between six and nine billion euros. The Finnish battery value chain will create approximately between 5,000 and 7,000 new jobs. The number of indirect job opportunities is a lot larger. (Akkuteollisuus ry.) For the planned battery material plant in Kotka, the initial investment was 774 million euros, and the plant will have the capacity to produce cathode materials for about 750,000 fully electric vehicles every year (FMG 2023).
How do the battery material plants add value to Kymenlaakso and Finland?
Firstly, the new plants create jobs. In Kotka, the new battery material plant could employ around 350 people (FMG 2023.). However, more opportunities would be created indirectly along the Finnish battery value chain. The battery value chain includes the extraction of raw materials through mining, materials processing, battery cell and battery production, use of the battery application (e.g., electric vehicle), and the recycling or second use at the battery´s end-of-life.
The demand for skilled workers grows with the building of new battery material factories and workplace creation. Different educational opportunities are established to meet the needs of the industry and educate people accordingly. At Xamk, for example, a study unit of six courses totaling 30 ECTS will be offered to students. The courses include topics covering the entire battery value chain and prepare the students for a career in the battery industry.
Additionally, people interested in further education or retraining can take the courses to prepare themselves to work in the battery industry. This creates considerable opportunities for the approximately 250 people affected by the potential closure of the Sunila plant in Kotka (Mäkelä 2023). For the success of the new factories in Kymenlaakso, work experience and an engineering background are an advantage.
Moreover, innovation and research activities will be developed in projects related to the battery cluster. Xamk is developing a research environment and identifies potential innovation and development areas, including, for example, research on new battery materials or systems. This research is progressing in cooperation with other educational institutions and battery-related companies.
As batteries are used globally, new export opportunities will be created. Kotka and Hamina are locations that attract international companies. This could bring new work opportunities and economic growth to the region, new knowledge and skills that support future RDI activities.
Regarding sustainability, the industrial discharge of sodium sulphate-rich water has been discussed for many years, and the new battery plants are additional emitters. Adven-FMG Sodium Sulfate Solutions Oy is taking the challenge of finding a sustainable solution for it. A circular economy approach can achieve lower discharge concentrations while increasing the sustainability of battery production processes. (Adven 2022.)
With the existing logistical infrastructure and expertise in Kotka and Hamina, the new battery material plants will bring many benefits to the region. New export opportunities, battery manufacturing with a reduced environmental impact, and development opportunities create a foundation for future expansion and a crucial position for Finland in the European battery market.
Finland is able to produce batteries in a sustainable and responsible manner, from the extraction of raw material to the end product and recycling (Akkuteollisuus ry). The entire battery industry is still developing; however, how much value and potential this industry offers in Finland is quite clear.
In Southeast Finland’s battery cluster education project, the training needs of the battery industry at different educational levels are investigated, and a working-life training model is created to support responsible battery production and sustainable electrification. The South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences manages the project with partners from LUT and Ekami. The project is co-funded by the European Union. The funding has been granted by Häme Center for Economic Development, Transport, and Environment.
Southeast Finland´s battery R&D cluster project promotes the emergence of a battery cluster and industrial symbiosis around the battery value chain in South-Eastern Finland. The project is managed by LUT, partial implementers are Xamk and Ekami. The project is co-funded by the European Union. The funding has been granted by the Regional Councils of South-Karelia and Kymenlaakso.
Adven. 2022. Finnish Minerals Group and Adven aim for industrial recycling of sodium sulphate. Available at: https://adven.com/news/finnish-minerals-group-and-adven-aim-for-industrial-recycling-of-sodium-sulphate/ [Accessed 21 August 2023]
Akkuteollisuus ry. Akkuala tuo Suomeen kasvua. Available at: https://akkuteollisuus.fi/tietoa-alasta/ [Accessed 17 August 2023]
Finnish Minerals Group. 2023. Finnish Mineral Group and Beijing Easpring to establish a JV company to advance the CAM plant project in Kotka. Available at: https://www.mineralsgroup.fi/topical/news/finnish-minerals-group-and-beijing-easpring-to-establish-a-jv-company-to-advance-the-cam-plant-project-in-kotka.html [Accesses 17 August 2023]
Mäkelä, M. 2023. Työministeri Arto Satonen vieraili lakkautettavalla Stora Enson sellutehtaalla – mahdollisuudet 250 työpaikan pelastamiseksi laihoja. Yle. Available at: https://yle.fi/a/74-20039838 [Accessed 17 August 2023]