A better battery for a cleaner future

A Norwegian entrepreneur’s battery technology could reduce waste and revolutionize the energy storage industry

Photo: alevo.com Alevo’s technology could reduce waste from our electrical grid by distributing stored power between where it’s generated and where it’s used.

Photo: alevo.com
Alevo’s technology could reduce waste from our electrical grid by distributing stored power between where it’s generated and where it’s used.

Rasmus Falck
Oslo, Norway

A Norwegian entrepreneur was behind one of the top energy stories in Forbes last year. Just listen to this fantastic story: The Philip Morris plant in Concord, North Carolina, used to manufacture a billion cigarettes a year. But Americans are smoking less, and the tobacco giant shuttered the factory’s doors years ago and announced plans to sell the 2,100-acre, 3.5 million square foot facility. In a sure sign that the U.S. economy is changing for the better, the empty space is not being turned in an outlet mall or water park but into a giant manufacturing site for utility-scale batteries that will store wind and solar electricity. Within three years they will create 2,500 high-paying jobs.

After a decade in secrecy, Jostein Eikeland, entrepreneur and CEO of Alevo, has launched a battery that he claims will last longer and cost less than current options. Jostein is a serial entrepreneur. He was an early internet entrepreneur who went public with his startup company on the Oslo Stock Exchange during the dot coms. He could be considered one of the earliest promoters of cloud computing. Later he invested in software and IT startups, as well as magnesium die casting and other high-tech manufacturing, and now batteries.

Jostein started the Swiss-based Alevo group of companies in 2009. Through its nine subsidiaries, the group has established operations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Alevo is building a vertically integrated manufacturing and development organization, creating a global energy storage business to work with the world’s largest energy companies. They will also provide mobile energy storage solutions for truck and bus fleets as well as the marine and offshore markets.

The new battery startup has, reportedly, raised over $1 billion in funding from anonymous Swiss investors, and is now aiming to revolutionize the U.S. energy storage industry. The company has created a new battery that lasts notably longer than the current industry standard, as well as being considerably cheaper to manufacture.

Typically high-tech manufacturing companies use pilot projects to prove their technology to investors and potential customers before ramping up. That’s not how Jostein is proceeding. According to Reuters, he said that “building as big as we do, it might seem a little bit risky. Producing on a mass scale will make Alevo’s technology cost-effective from the start. The high cost of grid storage has prevented it from being developed more widely.”

The plan is to deliver 200 megawatts of batteries—roughly enough to power 100,000 homes—into the U.S. market this year. They are in talks with big utilities, which he hopes will become customers. This could be a game changer.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 13, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.