Building Northvolt Drei: Meet the people behind the project

With start of construction just around the corner, here's a look behind the curtain on construction planning for Northvolt Drei in Heide, Germany.

Northvolt is building a brand-new industry in Europe. And we mean that literally. Our in-house construction and factory design teams play a massive role in laying the foundations for the success of all our gigafactories and by extension, our mission.

Building a gigafactory is no easy feat. It’s an incredibly complex endeavor with many moving parts – not to mention the sheer scale of the project and the speed at which we must build it. The people that make up our construction teams are in many ways Northvolt’s backbone – they’re the ones who design and create the places where the world’s greenest battery will be produced, from the ground up.

Nadia Scapin, Project Director, and Ed Hanbidge, Senior Director, work at Northvolt Drei, our gigafactory being established in Heide, Germany. We got the chance to catch up with them and gain some insights on what it’s like to build a gigafactory from scratch.

What makes this project unique?

Nadia: What sets this project apart is its sheer scale and the positive effects it brings to the community and the environment. This is a greenfield project covering a massive area of 110 hectares, where we're working to efficiently design and build a 60 GWh lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant, where we’ll produce enough batteries from one million electric vehicles each year.

What makes it truly exciting is that this project will employ approximately 3,000 people, and we have the unique opportunity to be part of creating something remarkable – pioneering the future of energy in Germany by building the world’s greenest batteries. This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and project.

Ed: The team spirit is exceptional; it's not just a group executing a project, but a real team working collaboratively towards a common goal. Every individual has a meaningful role and the opportunity to make a significant impact on one of the most important industrial projects in Germany.

"The passion and camaraderie we have here are off the charts"

How would you describe what working with construction at Northvolt is like?

Nadia: Working on construction at Northvolt is truly exhilarating. We're on a multi-billion Euro project at Northvolt Drei, and it's incredibly rewarding. While it's complex, we have an optimized master plan neatly divided into manageable stages. But here's the thing that sets us apart – our team is something else. I mean, the passion and camaraderie we have here are off the charts. Everyone's always ready to lend a hand, support each other, and constantly look for ways to improve.

If you thrive in a team environment, this is the place to be. If you're new to manufacturing, just like me, this opportunity is fantastic. With my 20+ years of experience in project and engineering management across different industries, I can tell you, this is where you can bring your diverse skills to the table and play a crucial role in driving the green transition, while developing new skills and like Ed always says: ‘have fun’ while doing it.

Ed: It’s an incredibly collaborative project and we’re really lucky, because we genuinely enjoy the work we do. To get this building built, you must leverage global best practices and experiences from different sectors – we use the knowledge we’ve gathered from all of Northvolt’s other projects globally.

How do we ensure the health and safety of employees working on our sites?

Nadia: We take the health and safety of our employees on our gigafactory construction site very seriously. We're dedicated to making sure everyone involved in our project can work safely. Our approach is straightforward: we back up our words with actions. We invest time and effort in our team and partners, fostering a safety culture that's deeply ingrained in our values as individuals and as an organization. So, safety is not just a policy for us; it's a part of who we are and how we operate.

What’s the biggest challenge that you’re facing?

Ed: The most significant challenge revolves around the complexity of resource coordination for such a massive construction project. This requires thinking outside the box and building relationships within the industry. However, the challenge is also what makes it exciting.

"We embrace the chance to develop both personally and professionally."

The team is driven, and the collective effort creates a clear sense of purpose when things get tough.

What advice would you give to someone looking to work in construction at Northvolt?

Nadia: Northvolt is a relatively new company, and we're still growing and evolving. This offers a level of freedom and flexibility in your work. We have a culture that encourages agility and fast decision-making. However, it's important to note that you need to be highly organized personally.

To succeed here, your approach to getting things done should be clear and focused. It's a bit of a balancing act – you'll need to combine flexibility with a structured and organized mindset. Finding that perfect middle ground can be a challenge, but it also provides opportunities for significant personal growth. So, be ready to adapt, stay organized, and embrace the chance to develop both personally and professionally.

Designing gigafactories

Tune in to the Northvolt Podcast to learn all about how we design gigafactories, the Northvolt Way. Alvaro Rabanos is a Senior Engineering Manager in Factory Programs, and in this episode he discusses what goes in to factory planning, and how it is much more creative than people think.

Do you want to be a part of the clean energy transition in Germany? Click here!