Two people have died in two separate accidents at the Northvolt Gigafactory in Sweden

Two people have died in two separate accidents at the Northvolt Gigafactory in Sweden

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Two workers have died in separate accidents at Northvolt’s battery factory in northern Sweden, casting a pall over Europe’s leading startup in the sector.

A 25-year-old Northvolt employee died Friday after suffering severe burns in early November after an explosion on a production line.

Separately, a man in his 60s working for construction company NCC died after an accident involving a crane used to expand Northvolt’s battery factory in Skellefteå, below the Arctic Circle in Sweden.

“This is a dark day,” said Peter Carlson, CEO and co-founder of Northvolt.

Northvolt was the first local European company to produce a battery cell from a large factory, in December 2021 in Skellefteå.

The site is one of Sweden’s largest construction projects, with new production lines constantly being built and opened, with Northvolt aiming to produce 60 gigawatt hours of batteries a year, enough to power around a million cars.

The crane accident on Thursday also seriously injured a second NCC worker in his twenties. The police are investigating the incident and have cordoned off the construction site. The NCC is also conducting its own investigation into what happened.

“We are now coming together in grief,” Carlson said of the two deaths. “The situation is devastating, and we are now working hour by hour to help each other through this.”

He described the Northvolt worker as an “ambitious, positive and highly regarded colleague, and it is extremely painful to lose him.”

Northvolt shut down the production line after that accident in November and conducted a safety review to ensure such an explosion — which occurred during routine maintenance — could not happen again. Production has since resumed.

The Swedish industrial startup is ramping up production in Skellefteå at the same time as it aims to build three new giant factories: one in central Sweden with Volvo Cars, one in Germany and another in Canada.

Northvolt, which was started by two former Tesla executives in 2017, is launching a potential $20 billion initial public offering in Stockholm and is interviewing bankers. But investors are skeptical about the loss-making company’s ability to list anytime soon in the current market environment. Northvolt has raised more funding than any other European startup and is about to announce more than €5 billion in debt financing in the coming weeks.

The Swedish group also recently announced a major breakthrough in battery technology for energy storage as it developed a sodium-ion cell that does not contain lithium, cobalt or nickel – all important metals that are commonly used and in which China has an advantage.

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