Demon Weed to Energy Need

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Demon weed to energy need

A former cigarette factory in Concord, North Carolina, is being transformed into the home of one of the world’s first bulk producers of grid-connected batteries

They used to call it Marlboro Country.  It had — and still has — rolling fields with miles of picket fences and scrub thickets in which wild turkeys try, and often fail, to hide from hunters. But the days when tobacco ruled North Carolina are long gone, and while its demise might have improved general health levels it took thousands of jobs with it.

But employment is returning to Concord, North Carolina, with the giant factory that once churned out millions upon millions of cigarettes for the Philip Morris company under new ownership. Its cavernous halls are still mostly empty, but soon they’ll ring to the sounds of manufacturing for a different kind of industry: one that might be set to be as emblematic of the early decades of the 21st century as tobacco was to the first half of the 20th: low-carbon energy.

Specifically, the former cigarette factory is to take on a new lease of life as one of the world’s first industrial-scale producers of grid-connected batteries, thanks to a company called Alevo. Founded by Norwegian cloud-computing entrepreneur Jostein Eikeland in 2008, Alevo has been operating in ‘stealth mode’ for almost a decade, with a new set of technologies and a novel business plan that it hopes will propel it to a leading position in a sector that Eikeland believes will be a crucial part of energy services in the coming decades.

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