Northvolt megafactory | Half of the production found a buyer

Northvolt’s North American “anchor customer” is ready to buy up to half of the annual production of its Quebec megacomplex, which will begin to emerge this year. When the young company talks about a “race against time” to complete its project, it is also to prevent this important contract from slipping away.

“It’s about half of the first phase,” said the president of Northvolt North America and co-founder of the Swedish multinational, Paolo Cerruti, on Wednesday, during an editorial meeting with The Press.

A few hours earlier, this former senior executive of Tesla, accompanied by his close collaborators, had taken stock of this 7 billion project financed by Quebec and Ottawa and which was made official about six months ago.

In an interview, Mr. Cerruti did not want to reveal the identity of the first company that will receive the battery cells produced by Northvolt on the South Shore. This request comes from the customer, he says. One thing is certain, the value of this contract, the value of which is unknown, should provide stability to the factory, which should begin producing its first units around the middle of 2026, if everything goes as planned.

“There is a commercial window that goes from 2025 to 2027,” says Mr. Cerruti. This is where the cards will be redistributed between the different major players who will establish themselves in North America. Today, the panorama is very Korean and Japanese. “.

What is a battery cell?

A lithium-ion battery found in a car is essentially an assembly of individual battery units, called cells. They are connected in series by an electronic circuit. The number and size of each cell helps determine the amount of electricity that an electric vehicle battery is able to store.

The terms of the contract with Northvolt’s first North American customer have every reason to encourage the company to respect its deadlines. If she is ready to deliver cells and her customer is not ready to receive them, he will still have to pay for them. In return, if it is the cell operator who is late, he will have to pay penalties.

Automotive giants like Volkswagen, BMW, Volvo and Scania are already on the customer list of the Swedish battery cell specialist, which has received more than US$50 billion in firm orders since its founding in 2015.


The first phase of the Northvolt complex, built on a gigantic 170 hectare plot of land which straddles Saint-Basile-le-Grand and McMasterville, where the former Canadian Industries Limited (CIL) explosives factory was located, must be with a capacity of 30 gigawatt hours. The project must be capable of powering the equivalent of one million electric vehicles.

This first North American customer should therefore, ultimately, purchase the equivalent of 15 GWh, indicated Mr. Cerruti. Given the government financial support given to this mega-factory, should it have been emphasized more often that half of the annual production had found a buyer?

“Perhaps,” replies the co-founder of Northvolt, when asked about the question. That said, what’s done is done. What matters is what is in front of us. »

Access, after the green light

Since its arrival on Quebec soil, the multinational has been dogged by the question of environmental assessment. With the exception of the portion of its complex which will involve battery recycling, the other facets will not be subject to the procedure of the Office of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) – a treatment generally reserved for large industrial projects. This irritates many environmental groups and citizens worried about the impacts of the arrival of a chemical complex on the South Shore.

During its update on Wednesday, Northvolt undertook to publicly disseminate the documents used to obtain each of the ministerial authorizations, but once the green light has been obtained. A “dozen” government authorizations will be necessary. In the immediate future, the cellar is still waiting for the government green light to move forward with the construction of the first buildings on the site. We will therefore have to wait for approval from Quebec before knowing what had been transmitted by the company to government authorities.

At a press conference, Mr. Cerruti insisted on the company’s gesture of “transparency”. However, if it had been subject to the BAPE procedure, it would have had to prepare an impact study which would have been public before the start of the public hearings, where citizens as well as organizations can participate.


Paolo Cerruti is the president of Northvolt North America and co-founder of the multinational.

“ [Les documents], you are going to see them, defends Mr. Cerruti, in an interview. The difference is that you will have them in installments, as the permits are issued. The result is the same. »

As part of the briefing session, Northvolt representatives indicated that work had already begun regarding the preparation of the impact study, which must be filed with the Ministry of the Environment, of the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCP) for the part of the complex which concerns battery recycling.

This document should have been sent to Quebec by the end of the year. Northvolt would like the BAPE hearings on this aspect of the project to be held in spring 2025.

This is the quantity of trees to be felled on the portion of the construction site in McMasterville territory. This is in addition to the 8,000 who have already been cut off near Saint-Basile-le-Grand. The cuts must be carried out by April 15, before the bird nesting period.

Number of heavy vehicles that could use the site on a daily basis once construction and development work has started on the South Shore. Management of truck traffic in the area as well as sound surveillance is promised.

Year in which Northvolt should take stock of everything relating to the pumping and discharge of water into the Richelieu River. This system is critical for the operation of the complex, since it must be used to cool the factory equipment. A federal permit will be required to pump water.

Learn more

  • 2.75 billion
    Sum offered by Quebec and Ottawa to finance the construction of the Northvolt Quebec factory.

    Source: the press

    4.6 billion
    Maximum sum of production subsidies offered to the company by the two levels of government.

    Source: the press

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