By Zhang Xinyuan in Oslo
3rd Ammonia–Hydrogen Energy Industry Shanghai Int’l Forum 2023
Norway is looking for more cooperation in sustainable technologies, such as electric vehicles and batteries, with China as the two countries head toward a common greener and more sustainable future in the post-COVID era.
China and Norway have always had close cooperation in the fields of fishing, maritime and oil and gas industries. However, the pandemic caused some interruptions in their traditional areas of cooperation due to factory closures and diminished international travel due to coronavirus containment measures, said Finn Kr. Aamodt, director of Invest in Norway under Innovation Norway.
Now that the pandemic is behind the two countries, Aamodt said that it’s very promising to look at future cooperation, especially in green technologies. He specifically emphasized on batteries used in electric vehicles.
China and Norway have been strengthening cooperation in the field of electric vehicles in recent years. Many of the iconic and newly launched EV brands of China, which is currently the world’s largest electric vehicle maker, have chosen Norway to be their first stop to the European market due to Norway’s 2025 target of zero emissions for all new passenger cars and its tax incentives for electric vehicle buyers.
Read more: Explainer: Why Chinese EV companies are using Norway as a global pilot
“Here in Norway, you see a lot of Chinese EV brands (on the street), those cars are driven by batteries, and the whole value chain is also quite important,” said Aamodt. “We need more batteries to be sustainable within this new way of transport, by car, also by ships and later on by plane,” he added.
“As of today, a lot of the raw materials, the expertise and the science are all from China. I think there is a big opportunity for China, Norway and Europe to collaborate on future battery evolvement, to develop more efficient batteries and in recycling, and put those into both Chinese and European cars,” said Aamodt.
China is currently leading the world in terms of battery cell manufacturing capacity. It produced 893 GWh of battery cells in 2022 globally, accounting for 77 percent of global production capacity. The country is also responsible for 80 percent of global battery raw material processing, according to statistics from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Within Europe, according to predictions offered by Benchmark Minerals, based on the announced projects, China will have 322 GWh of production capacity by 2031, followed by South Korea at 192 GWh. Norway ranks the seventh, with capacity expected to reach 69 GWh.
Europe’s constraints in increasing the capacity mainly lie in its dependency on resources from other countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo’s cobalt or Russia’s nickel. Norway has plans to address the minerals’ dependency by allowing seabed mining in its own waters since January 2021, but it’s contested and not recommended by the EU.
Aamodt pointed out that the upstream materials are one of the areas that China and Norway could cooperate on. “China is very much advanced in this area, and some of the production should be in Europe, because of the car industry here,” he said.
“Having our power mostly green – its either hydropower or wind – will reduce a lot of the carbon footprint that you will see on cars. So, I think with a combination of Chinese expertise, combined with what Norway has to offer in terms of cheap energy, and also very good engineers and very efficient way of producing, I think that’s very good (combination),” Aamodt said.
However, with the drastic electricity price rise in 2021, Norway maybe losing one of the competitive advantage of having cheap electricity.
Aamodt said that the current electricity price hike is definitely a hurdle, but it’s still quite favorable to its competitors in Europe, and there are predictions that the electricity price in Norway will come down a little, and Norway has plans to further expand electricity capacity, such as by building wind farms.
Norway launched its first battery strategy in June 2022, with the goal to build Norway into an attractive host country for profitable activity throughout the battery value chain. It is aiming to ensure the provision of capital, loans and guarantees that trigger private capital as well as suitable sites and other infrastructure.
China and Norway both have set clear goals for achieving carbon neutrality, and under this common goal, there are a lot of other areas and industries that China and Norway could cooperate in on top of electric cars and batteries, Aamodt said. He concluded that there will be greening of other industries, such as in maritime shipping or steel production, and it will present a lot of cooperation opportunities in the future.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, new areas will arise, but I think as long as we have the common goal to look at opportunities together, that’s what makes things happen,” said Aamodt.
“We both have good understandings of technology, and we are both very innovative, in some areas we have more power, and China has a lot of scaling abilities that we miss, I think it’s a good combination for future collaboration.”
Aamodt also called for more cooperation with China in other technological areas, such as building data centers and digital twins for different industries, which are areas Norway tries to develop as part of its national strategy and somewhat coincide with China’s development plan for big data industry.