Corvus opens marine battery factory
Norwegian innovation comes to Washington state
Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American
It was a happy day in Bellingham, Wash., on Jan. 23, when the Norwegian company Corvus Energy officially opened its new factory for the manufacturing of marine batteries. On hand for the celebration were top company executives from Norway and the United States, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, Norwegian Ambassador to the United States Anniken R. Krutnes, Rep. Rick Larsen, and other dignitaries and community leaders from the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County, Wash.
“Goddag, good afternoon,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “It is a joy to be here.”
Inslee, a champion of the green economy, talked about how a dream was coming true for him with the opening of the new factory, “which would build the world’s best batteries for boats.” Inslee talked about his personal vision from two decades ago that the world would confront climate change, that his home state would embrace technology to make it happen. When he wrote a book about it in 2007, he didn’t know that Corvus existed.
“It’s the momentum we’re looking for,” said Inslee with visible enthusiasm. “I am thrilled to be here to celebrate.”
The governor, who recently made a trip to Norway, said, “It is a beautiful thing to see a Norwegian ferry going though a fjord with no smoke, no carbon emissions, and no vibration”—a beauty that is now coming to the United States.
Inslee underlined that the new factory is not only about the environment but also a significant boost to the economy of Bellingham and Washington state. The new state-of-the-art factory has created 40 new high-paying jobs in the high-tech industry and brought foreign capital to the local community in a win-win situation for all.
Ambassador Krutnes also stressed the significance of the day, saying that the factory opening was a “milestone event in our effort to speed up the green transition,” calling it “another testament of the relationship of Norway and the United States and Norway and Washington state.”
In her 2.5 years in her U.S. post, Krutnes has visited Washington more than any other state in the country. She was not surprised that Corvus had chosen to locate their factory in Bellingham with the region’s forward-leaning companies and skilled workforce.
“It’s about investment, jobs, cooperation, and results,” she said. Krutnes congratulated Corvus as a “bold first mover and leading player in the global maritime energy,” emphasizing how happy she was to see that the company now has a solid footprint in the United States. “We all depend on the maritime sector: to move goods, to move people, to create jobs, and connect people,” she said.
Larsen, who represents Washington state’s 2nd congressional district, talked about the strong bond between Norway and the United States. Larsen takes great pride in his Norwegian heritage as the descendant of Norwegian immigrants who came to Whatcom County looking for opportunities. Like the others, he was thrilled to see new opportunities opening up for new generations.
“We need to offer opportunities to the next-generation workforce,” he said. “We are in the business of building a big league infrastructure in Washington state.”
Larsen also talked about the significance of the maritime industry in Washington, which is home to 2,300 businesses in the sector. The state has received a $5 million federal grant to support the electrification of its state ferry system and is part of a $250 million pilot initiative to fund green ferries around the country.
“We are electrifying nearly everything in Washington state,” said Larsen. He underlined that there is much work to upgrade “a transportation system built in the 1950s to where it needs to be in the 2050s.
After the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, visitors were treated to a luncheon buffet before touring the light, airy, modern factory floor to learn more about the Corvus product line and the manufacturing process. There was an opportunity to ask questions and mingle with other guests and company employees.
But at the end of the day after all the impressive speeches, some of the most meaningful words came from an employee on the battery assembly line floor.
“This company is No. 1,” said Belinda Sindingan. “It’s the best place I’ve ever worked, a place where everyone in treated fairly, with good pay and good benefits. Corvus is a wonderful employer.”
That’s the Norwegian way, I thought to myself. What a great testimonial to what we can learn and accomplish when we come together across borders to make good things happen for the environment, economy, and our people.
This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.