SK Innovation plans almost $1-billion investment to build two more Li-ion battery separator plants in Poland

07:03 AM | March 30, 2021 | Kartik Kohli

SK ie Technology, an SK Innovation affiliate that produces lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery capacitors, will invest 1.1 trillion South Korean won ($997.0 million) to build its third and fourth battery separator plants in Silesia, Poland. The annual production capacity of SK ie Technology’s No. 3 and 4 plants in Poland will be 430 million square meters (sq m) each.

The project will raise SK ie Technology's total separators capacity in Poland to 1.54 billion sq m including the capacity of 680 million sq m at the No. 1 and 2 plants, which are under construction.

SK ie Technology will begin construction of the No. 3 and 4 units in Poland in the third quarter of this year and start producing by the end of 2023. Plant No. 1 will begin production in the third quarter of this year and plant No. 2 is scheduled to start production in the first quarter of 2023.

SK Innovation says that separators are essential materials that directly affect the safety and performance of Li-ion batteries in electric vehicles (EVs). They take up about 15–20% of a battery's production cost and are a key part of the EV and battery industry’s growth, it adds.

SK Innovation says that the industry is predicting growth in the worldwide separator market from about 4 billion sq m in 2020, to about 16 billion sq m by 2025. A shortage in supply is expected, starting from 2023, it adds.

SK ie Technology has approximately 860 million sq m of capacity in full operation in South Korea and at Changzhou, China. New plants are under construction at Changzhou in addition to the facilities in Poland, and these will begin operating sequentially.

The company says that its total capacity will increase to about 1.36 billion sq m by the end of this year. Completion of the No. 3 and 4 plants in Poland will raise combined capacity to 2.73 billion sq m in 2024, it says.