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.
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.