Skellefteå is Sweden’s new hub for next-gen green industry
Skellefteå, a small municipal town in far north Sweden, has become a hub of the country’s next-gen green industry.
The town debuted the Sara Cultural Centre in 2021. The 80-metre AI-controlled centre is worth €112 million (1.2 billion kronor). Powered by green energy, it regularly hosts various cultural activities.
The centre launched around the same time as the opening of the Northvolt Gigafactory, which is expected to supply batteries for one million electric vehicles a year.
Skellefteå began its plan to move toward the green industry in 2016. Local politician Lorents Burman told Bloomberg that, at that time, Skellefteå pledged to invest €1.79 billion (20 billion kronor) in municipal services over five years. A year after hatching the plan, the rapidly growing low-carbon battery producer Northvolt chose Skellefteå to host its new headquarters.
Joseph Lin, a former economic unit chief at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, described the event as a “Field of Dreams” moment.
“Before companies showed real interest in setting up operations up north, government leadership decided to build up infrastructure because they believed in that they could fulfill the promises of a true fossil-free ‘green transition,’” Lin said, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Today, Northvolt employs around 1,500 workers in its Skellefteå facility. The company’s chief executive officer, Peter Carlsson, said the company recruits around 100 employees in the town per month, adding that the company gains high interest from prospective workers.
Skellefteå’s workforce is expected to grow to 4,000 by 2026, with workers from varying industrial backgrounds like pharmaceutical and oil and gas coming from around 80 countries. The growth of residents had led to an “urban rejuvenation” in the town. There are new public facilities and residential buildings to accommodate the growing population.
Mona Burlin, an employee at Skellefteå’s Public Employment Office, said the town was “pretty dead” several years ago because it lacked things to offer. The presence of international companies like Northvolt has improved the city.
Investment in northern Sweden
The Swedish government believes that the boom of the green industry in northern Sweden is nearing the end of its beginning phase. Some remaining challenges include the need to strengthen infrastructure networks in the area, the urgency to increase renewable energy production, and the difficulty in persuading people to move up north.
Sweden has set up more than €93.58 billion in investment to support next-generation energy infrastructure in the northern part of the country. Towns on the north side of Skellefteå are expected to be Sweden’s main sources of green energy in the future.
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