Last month, I got the pleasure of touring the facilities and meeting with top management of numerous companies within the battery space, from startups to large players, spread across the value chain. These included Tesla, Volvo, Freyr, Morrow Batteries, ChargePoint, Zeekr, Vianode and Northvolt.
Visits like these are important in a portfolio investment perspective to widen our horizon beyond financial calculations and research getting to see the technology, operations and interact with key employees and management on a firsthand basis. Additionally, traveling with a diverse investor group gives us the advantage of comparing notes and discussing our takeaways within the group throughout the company visits.
The Worlds Greenest Batteries
Northvolt, located in Skellefteå, Sweden, was one of the companies we got to visit. The company is Europe’s first homegrown battery gigafactory with the aim to produce the worlds greenest batteries utilizing a fossil free production and recycling on-site. They have a customer base within the EV premium segment. The next wave of focus for their battery solutions will be geared towards energy storage, then air mobility.
Tesla – At the Electric Vehicle Forefront
Our final stop was Tesla’s gigafactory in Berlin, which, in 2022, delivered the first European produced Tesla to the market. We got to see their giant casting machines, the Giga Press, which makes car bodies with just a few massive casted parts, which is unique to them. Tesla’s Model Y became the world's best-selling car in the beginning of the year, which was the first time an all-electric vehicle claimed the top spot.
Battery Storage is Vital in the Energy Transition
We believe battery storage will be a key element in the ongoing energy shift with its ability to smooth the energy availability profile. It is part of a trio of interlinked solutions together with renewables and EVs that can enable a material reduction in emissions in electricity, heat, and transportation, which are sectors that contribute to two-thirds of the global emissions today.
Batteries are becoming critically important from a national strategy perspective with the world transitioning to low carbon. The supply chains remain vulnerable to rising political tensions due to Chinese domination. Key Asian players include CATL BYD, CALB and Gotion in China; LG Energy, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI in Korea and Panasonic, Envision and Toyota in Japan. Based on the manufacturers’ expansion plans, Chinese producers is phasing domestic oversupply risks in addition to potential difficulties to export batteries given the regional protective policies like the US IRA and EU Green Deal, which aims to boost the domestic self-sufficiency of batteries in the US and Europe. Below is an overview of the battery value chain, the market concentration, and the largest suppliers by region, where China is the dominating force.
DNB Fund Future Waves
In the DNB Fund Future Waves portfolio, we have exposure to the battery theme through the value chain, while also looking to expand into new stock investments in the sector. Our current holdings include Ads-Tec Energy and Boliden.
Ads-Tec Energy’s business model is focused on EV batteries for ultra-fast charging. Boliden is a raw material smelting and mining company of primarily copper, a material that is a good conductor for electricity, and an essential material used in the EV battery.
Boliden is the sustainability leader for supply of metals for climate transition, with its low carbon brand.
Beyond these, we are further assessing the space to find new battery energy storage names with new disruptive technologies to invest in like EOS Energy, Enovix, STEM, ESS and Fluence interesting to keep attention to on our watch list.
We believe the developed world players with evolving technology beyond the leading lithium-ion are an attractive development to follow, and, due to future potential Chinese oversupply, leading to price pressure, we think it is beneficial to focus on the tail end of the value chain.
A Battery’s role, simply put, is to store energy. The battery trend is geared towards smaller size, more power and lower cost. Portfolio manager Audun Wickstrand Iversen shared his view on batteries, machine learning and Tesla in DNB Utbytte’s newest podcast episode (norwegian).
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