Vargas builds impact companies from the ground up to become leaders within their field. Targeting the highest-emitting industry verticals, we will reach our vision to decarbonise one per cent of global emissions.
Our journey began 2014 when Stefan Jansson and Harald Mix started to discuss the emerging need for smart, sustainable, and cost-effective reserve power among telecom companies. In the digital age where everything is connected, the telecom infrastructure must never go down. The business case for power backup solutions built on lithium-ion battery technology was evaluated.
Shortly after, Harald and Carl-Erik Lagercrantz met. Carl-Erik's extensive experience from senior roles in the telecom industry was a perfect match. That was the starting point of Vargas, with Carl-Erik as CEO and Harald as Chairman. Polarium became Vargas’ first venture. A common interest in, and ability to, identify needs for change, and then putting innovation, technology and capital to work for a solution united us. It has been the foundation of our work ever since.
Stefan Jansson has been Polarium's CEO since start. And the philosophy of bold entrepreneurial leaders heading our ventures continues to be part of our DNA.
As we scaled Polarium, it became evident that the need for a reliable and resilient flow of clean energy goes beyond the telecom industry. Today, the company provides energy storage solutions that enable its customers within telecom, industry and commercial buildings to become smarter and more sustainable by optimising how they use energy. Polarium has made more than 350,000 installations worldwide and is on track to become a leading sustainable and fully integrated energy storage provider.
The idea behind our next project was conceived in a Polarium meeting when we discussed the heavy European dependence on Asian-made battery cells with a large CO2 footprint. Given the electrification rate in virtually all sectors of the economy – not least within the automotive industry – it was obvious that Europe is on the threshold of a huge increase in demand for high-quality, green battery cells. Additionally, on the back of the Paris Agreement, the global climate agenda was gathering momentum, spurring greater awareness about the climate crisis and appetite for innovation.
Carl-Erik contacted Peter Carlsson, and together with him and Paulo Cerutti, we built and validated a business case for European production of lithium-ion battery cells. In 2016, we decided to co-found and launch Northvolt with the bold plan to develop the world’s greenest lithium-ion battery cell and establish a European supply of batteries. With an order stock exceeding $55 billion, and production up and running since 2022, Northvolt is set to become Europe’s leading battery cell manufacturer.
The Northvolt case convinced us that we can address additional hard-to-abate industries to accelerate decarbonisation, combining our sector expertise and experience from working with large investment cases and industrial transformation. We saw an opportunity to scale Vargas and developed our greenfield model for building competitive impact companies from the ground up, based on large-scale projects, vertical integration, and close customer collaboration.
We applied this model as we started working on our third strategic venture. During a Northvolt board meeting, we discussed that electrification alone cannot eliminate all emissions in the automotive industry. As steel accounts for around half of the CO2 emissions in a car, it became a natural next industry vertical for us to target. Together with Northvolt’s largest owner Volkswagen, we validated the business case for green steel.
In 2021, we launched H2 Green Steel, with the aim to decarbonise the steel industry by taking a leadership position in global green hydrogen production. Under the leadership of Henrik Henriksson, H2 Green Steel will produce the greenest steel at the lowest cost, with production commencing in 2025 and an output of 5 million tonnes planned for no later than 2030. The company has already signed take-off supply agreements for over 10 million tonnes of green steel, which manifests the strong customer demand.
As a next step on our decarbonisation journey, we decided to target residential heating, a major but often overlooked source of global carbon emissions. Residential heating is the third largest contributor of CO2 emissions in Europe, and consumers spend thousands of euros on inefficient, dirty and expensive gas or oil boilers.
In June 2023, we launched our fourth venture. Aira will help take Europe off gas, and make it easy for consumers to decarbonise their homes through a complete home energy system with a highly efficient and intelligent heat pump at the heart. The company offers an affordable fixed monthly fee, with significant energy bill savings compared to current solutions, including gas boilers.
Aira’s first markets are Italy, Germany and the UK. Within ten years, the company will serve 5 million European homes. To realise the company’s ambition, Aira has secured a world-class production facility in Wroclaw, Poland, where production of heat pumps will start in 2024.
When our journey began, our curiosity and entrepreneurial mindset were the driving forces. But as the severity of the climate crisis became more evident, we felt a greater responsibility to act. Not least with future generations in mind. By deploying our particular skillset – building businesses – we can make substantial impact.
Polarium, Northvolt, H2 Green Steel and Aira are all underway to change their industry verticals. But this is only the beginning. We are continuously looking for decarbonisation opportunities, and our aim is to introduce additional ventures over time. This way, we will reach our vision of directly and indirectly bring down global CO2 emissions with one per cent.