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IVA’s Gold Medal 2022: Peter Carlsson – the visionary who dared to invest

Peter Carlsson is the visionary who dared to invest in something that most people thought was impossible. Despite years of warnings and setbacks, he has managed the feat of building a giga factory for the manufacture of green batteries in the forest outside Skellefteå.

HM The King presents Peter Carlsson with the Gold Medal

When Peter Carlsson announced his plan on 9 March 2016, few believed he would succeed. He wanted to build a giant factory that would produce batteries without using fossil energy. And he wanted to do it in Sweden. Many were sceptical of the idea. Where would he get the many billions needed to realise such a mega project? And how would he manage to attract all the expertise needed to a small city in northern Sweden? Despite all the warnings, he decided to go for it.

A fearless entrepreneur with unique experience

The decision to go against the flow was powered by numerous factors, not least the unique experience he had gained in his previous career. With a background in the telecom industry, Peter Carlsson was hand-picked in the early 2010s as global Head of Sourcing and Supply Chain at the electric car company Tesla, which was then a brash start-up that few believed in. Over the five years he worked under the eccentric entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk, he saw for himself that it was possible to achieve the impossible. He was also involved in starting up an initiative to build the world’s largest battery factory – in the middle of the Nevada desert.

Driven by optimism and a clear insight

After his years at Tesla, Peter Carlsson’s own plans began to take shape, all based on a clear insight. In the very near future, most new cars will be powered by electricity. The need for batteries will be immense – and Europe needs to have its own production. In 2015, he joined forces with Paolo Cerruti, Carl-Erik Lagercrantz and Harald Mix to set up the company SGF Energy, which changed its name to Northvolt the following year. Now, just five years later, Peter Carlsson has successfully built a company with more than three thousand employees. In the forest outside Skellefteå, the first battery cells have already been produced. And more factories are planned for sites including Gothenburg, Borlänge and Germany.

Jury citation for IVA’s Gold Medal

Peter Carlsson, MSc, is awarded IVA’s Gold Medal for his outstanding entrepreneurship, leadership and innovative ability to run and develop ground-breaking battery production megaprojects for society’s transition to a fossil-free energy supply.

About Peter Carlsson

Born: 1970

Career in selection:

1993 Bachelor of Economics at Luleå University of Technology.

1996 Employed at Ericsson (now Sony Ericsson), where he worked for ten years in several different positions, including with responsibility for supply chains and as Purchasing Manager.

2008 Becomes Country Manager for NXP Semiconductors in Singapore.

2011 Headhunted as Purchasing and logistics Manager for the promising startup company Tesla.

2015 Leaves Tesla and co-founds the company SGF energy, which changes its name to Northvolt the following year.

2016 Presents on March 9 the plan to build a gigafactory in Sweden for the manufacture of green batteries.

2018 Starts building the factory in Skellefteå and an R&D facility in Västerås.

2019 The first battery cell is produced in the facility in Västerås.

2021 On December 28, the first battery cell is manufactured at the factory in Skellefteå.

IVA's Gold Medal

For more than a century, IVA has celebrated excellence in technology, economics, business and society by awarding Gold Medals to people who, through their outstanding achievements, have helped to create a better society.

IVA's Gold Medal is awarded for meritorious work within the academy's field of activity.

More on IVA's Gold Medals
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