Electric battery company building $2.6B plant in metro Atlanta

Factory to create 723 jobs over the next seven years, officials say
This is a lithium-ion battery cell produced by Freyr Battery.

Credit: Freyr Battery

Credit: Freyr Battery

This is a lithium-ion battery cell produced by Freyr Battery.

A Norwegian company announced Friday it will build an electric battery factory in metro Atlanta, creating hundreds of jobs and further cementing Georgia as a hub for the sector.

Freyr Battery, a clean-tech startup named after a Norse god, will invest $2.57 billion in a 368-acre site in Coweta County. The company produces energy storage systems (ESS), which use lithium-ion batteries to store electricity from renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar.

In recent years, Georgia has been courting companies that produce electrified products of all types, from electric vehicle manufacturers to battery suppliers and recyclers. SK Battery has an EV battery plant in Jackson County and automakers Rivian and Hyundai Motor Group will make batteries at their future EV factories.

Freyr CEO Tom Einar Jensen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution his company’s technology does more than just power vehicles. He said it can change the power grid.

“It’s possible to combine solar development and wind development with storage devices like this to basically replace all coal-fired and gas-fired power without having any blackouts or disruptions to the energy system,” he said.

Jensen said the lithium-ion batteries in an ESS can store renewable energy for “when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing,” which he added is “as important from a decarbonization perspective as the decarbonization of transportation.”

He said Freyr’s customers include large industrial companies and solar developers looking to ween themselves off fossil fuels. Jensen said the battery technology can also be used in electric vehicles, electric buses and other vehicles, but the Coweta factory will start by focusing on ESS production.

Freyr was founded in 2018 and is also building a plant in Norway.

This is a rendering of the planned Freyr Battery facility in Norway.

Credit: Freya Battery

icon to expand image

Credit: Freya Battery

The Freyr plant will rise near Amazon and Shopify distribution centers off I-85 near Newnan.

It will be called Giga America and is expected to create 723 jobs over the next seven years. Sarah Jacobs, president of the Coweta County Development Authority said average salaries will be more than $60,000.

“They considered 25 states and I think over 150 sites before it was ultimately narrowed down,” she said.

Freyr, publicly traded since last year, reported a $4.7 million profit in the second quarter. Freyr will report third quarter financials Monday.

The company and project are supported by Koch Industries, a company better known for fossil fuels and leaders who have funded groups that questioned climate change. But Koch has emerged as a major player in battery technology, and the project will benefit from incentives in President Joe Biden’s signature climate bill.

At the ground breaking for Hyundai’s $5.54 billion EV factory near Savannah, Gov. Brian Kemp said Georgia has announced 30 electric mobility-related projects since 2020, totaling more than $13 billion in corporate investments and nearly 19,000 promised jobs.

“Our pipeline is not slowing down,” he said.

Freyr said Georgia and Coweta “are collectively providing strong financial incentives for the project,” but did not provide specifics. The state declined to provide incentive details, saying the “project is still active.”

It’s likely Freyr will qualify for tax credits for jobs created, research and development and clean energy. Left-leaning incentive watchdog Good Jobs First recently found states and local governments nationwide had contributed some $13.8 billion in incentives to land at least 51 EV and electric vehicle battery plants in recent years. Of that total, Georgia committed some $3.3 billion to Hyundai and Rivian through various grants, tax credits, worker training, land and infrastructure.

J.C. Bradbury, a Kennesaw State University economist, said Georgia’s leadership is prioritizing the battery industry and is willing to pay to grow the sector. But he questioned why Georgia is incentivizing large new employment centers when unemployment remains near record-lows.

“It is very bad policy to incentivize job creation in the midst of a labor shortage,” he said. “All you’re going to end up doing is bidding up wages.”

Freyr credited Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and said the Coweta factory will help enhance the U.S.’s domestic supply chain for lithium-ion batteries, technology that foreign countries such as China currently dominate.