Cheering joy – but also terrible ice cream. In the municipal buildings in northern Sweden, there is now a feverish search for housing opportunities to accommodate everyone who gets a job in the new, green battery and steel investments by Northvolt, LKAB and H2 Green Steel.
Say the municipal politician who does not turn upside down with joy when a new giant industry announces its arrival in municipalities. In three Norrland municipalities, the municipal people are now shining in competition with the spring sun, but happiness is also associated with both anxiety and a lot of work.
– The space is there, and a basic infrastructure. Skellefteå was built in the 60s, but then came the recession, and then the city shrank, says Lars Hedqvist, planning manager in Skellefteå municipality.
Lots of people are coming there already now. Northvolt, which will start production in the battery factory as early as the end of this year, employs between 10 and 15 people a week.
But where they will live when they arrive is not clear. Northvolt hopes for subletting.
Not profitable to build
Lars Hedqvist points to the commercial conditions for the construction. Until now, it has not been considered profitable to build new in places like Skellefteå, but now a turnaround is in sight.
– Property prices would need to increase by 15 percent per year. We’re starting to get to that now. In the urban area, the new rental levels are accepted. There it is built, and the calculations go together.
He says that the municipality has known about Northvolt’s arrival for four years.
– We are looking with light and lantern for quick housing projects, we have some that are starting now, says Lars Hedqvist.
In Boden, it is also urgent to get more housing.
– Boden has 28,000 inhabitants today, but we already have a plan that we will reach 30,000 inhabitants by 2025. Now we are breaking that goal, says Claes Nordmark, municipal councilor in Boden (S).
Boden can soon welcome the new facility for fossil-free steel that H2 Green Steel will build. Production will be up and running in a few years. Then 1,500 jobs will be added in the factory itself, but there will be significantly more around. In addition, lots of housing will be required during the construction period.
No need to truga
– Today we are building schools and preschools in the municipality, and the construction of multi-family houses has begun. We no longer need to trust the construction companies, he says.
He is also chairman of the local government association in Norrbotten, where more municipalities hope to get a share of the influx of new residents. He says that they are in contact with Skellefteå, to learn lessons from their experiences.
He feels that both banks, investors and construction companies are beginning to understand what is happening in the north.
– Now the light has finally gone up. It is not a loss-making business to invest in Norrbotten, says Claes Nordmark.
Facts: New jobs in the north
Exactly how many new jobs the green industries in the north will provide is not yet clear, none of the factories are finished.
Northvolt’s battery factory in Skellefteå can eventually provide 2,500–3,000 jobs. Now, in April, between 100 and 150 people work there, but the company is fully employed this year. At the turn of the year, the number is estimated to be between 500 and 600 people.
LKAB’s, SSAB’s and Vattenfall’s investment in fossil-free steel in the so-called Hybrit project means that iron sponge will be manufactured in Gällivare starting. How many jobs it provides is still unclear, but it can be between 150 and 200 in production. But only for the construction of facilities for Hybrit, which takes 20 years to complete, it is estimated that 2,000-3,000 people will be needed.
Fossil-free steel will also be produced in Boden, but by the company H2 Green Steel as early as 2024. Probably around 1,500 people are needed for the actual production in Boden. In addition, all subcontractors and ancillary services are added, perhaps involving as many as 10,000 people, according to H2 Green Steel.
Sources: Northvolt, LKAB and H2 Green Steel