Norwegian battery firm plans $2.6 billion plant in Georgia

Nov 11, 2022, 11:11 AM | Updated: 4:13 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — A Norwegian company will build a giant electric battery factory just southwest of Atlanta, company and state officials announced Friday, investing up to $2.6 billion over multiple phases.

Freyr Battery said it would build an initial plant that would produce batteries that could hold 34 gigawatt hours of electricity each year. Among battery plants currently operating, that would be the second-largest worldwide, behind a factory owned by Panasonic and Tesla in Nevada.

Freyr CEO Tom Jensen told attendees at the announcement in the Atlanta suburb of Newnan that the company’s vision of using renewable energy to make batteries could play an important role in reducing carbon emissions from electricity generation and transportation. The company’s initial plan is targeted toward storing electricity produced by renewable sources and releasing it later, but Jensen said sales to vehicle makers could also be included.

Jensen said battery production is a “massive growth opportunity,” predicting 70% of decarbonization efforts will somehow include batteries.

“We want to build something that matters, something that we can be proud of something that will matter for our children,” Jensen said. “Because at the end of the day, the world needs to rapidly decarbonize the society.”

The company said it plans an initial investment of $1.7 billion, and would hire 720 people at a site it has purchased in an industrial park near Newnan, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta. Phases through 2029 involving $700 million of additional investment could include more production lines, material processing and other activities.

Employees are projected to make an average of $60,284 a year, said Molly Giddens of the Coweta County Development Authority.

Freyr, named for the Norse god of peace and fertility, rain, and sunshine, is also building a large factory in northern Norway and is planning a battery cell production facility in Vaasa, Finland.

The company aims to make batteries, an electricity-intensive process, using renewable energy. In Georgia, that could mean buying electricity from a dedicated solar facility with battery storage run by a third party, the company said.

Freyr said it looked at 130 sites in 25 states before selecting Georgia, citing the availability of engineers trained by Georgia Tech and other schools, job training, and proximity to Atlanta’s big airport, Savannah’s port, railroads and highways.

The company said it sees opportunities in the United States in part because of incentives for renewable energy passed by Congress earlier this year. Freyr said it intends to seek federal grants or loans.

In addition, the company said it is getting “strong” financial incentives from state and local officials in Georgia. The state plans to pay for worker training, and Freyr will eligible for up to $4.5 million in state income tax credits over five years, as long as workers make at least $31,300 a year. Coweta County will give property tax breaks for 20 years, Giddens said, not disclosing a projected value. She said the company would also get a “quality jobs creation grant.”

It’s the second huge battery factory announced in Georgia. Korean firm SK Innovation has built a $2.6 billion plant in Commerce, northeast of Atlanta, with plans to hire 2,600 workers eventually.

The state has targeted the electric vehicle industry. Hyundai Motor Group has announced plans to invest $5.5 billion in a plant near Savannah and hire 8,100 workers, also planning to make batteries there. Electric truck maker Rivian has plans to build a plant east of Atlanta, investing $5 billion and employing 7,500 workers.

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Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

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Norwegian battery firm plans $2.6 billion plant in Georgia