SK IE Technology, a material business subsidiary of SK Innovation, is making the largest investment in the history of their EV battery separator business on the 28th in order to build new plants in Poland.

SK IE Technology’s board meeting on the 26th has come to the decision of investing approx. KRW 1.13 trillion to build its Europe’s third and fourth separator plants in Silesia, Poland. This is the largest among single investments made by SK IE Technology so far.

The annual production capacity of SK IE Technology’s Plant 3 and 4 in Poland is 430 million m2 each. Accordingly, SK IE Technology will be able to produce 1.54 billion m2 separators in total per year just in Poland by combining the production capacity of 680 million m2 of the existing Plant 1 and 2.

Separators are essential materials that directly affect the safety and performance of lithium-ion batteries in EVs. It takes up approx. 15-20% of the battery production cost and is a key part of the EV and battery industry’s growth.

The reason why SK IE Technology is making such large-scale investments is to take preemptive measures on the highly increased purchase demand from related industries of the rapidly growing EV battery market.

Fire accidents have continuously occurred on EV batteries recently, and separator damage is said to be one of the causes of the fire. The fact that batteries that used SK’s separators never caught fire has been noticed in the industry, and the demand to secure safety-certified separators has largely increased. In fact, separator supply scheduled to be produced this year in Plant 1 in Poland, which will start production in the fourth quarter, and Plant 2 in Changzhou, China, which will start running in the first quarter, has already secured sufficient source of demand and is now in discussion, even before the operation of these plants.

Incomparable safety based on the world’s leading technology is the reason behind the industry’s attention to SK IE Technology. Until now, batteries that implemented separators manufactured by SK IE Technology have never had fire incidents. SK’s separators are perceived as “safe separators” within the industry and are acknowledged as premium separators.

“It’s because we have differentiated exclusive technologies such as the “sequential stretching” technology that realizes even quality while controlling the separator thickness without restriction, separator coating technology that minimizes deformation even from heat and shock, etc.,” SK Innovation explained.

In addition to the fire issue, the separator market’s rapid growth is also the cause of aggressive investment. The industry predicts a spiking increase of the global separator market, which was approx. 4 billion m2 last year, up to approx. 16 billion m2 by 2025. Especially, starting from 2023, a shortage in supply is expected.

By expanding the market share through preemptive investment and enhance its position as the premium separator manufacturer, SK IE Technology is planning to solidify its current No.1 rank in the world’s wet process separator market.

SK IE Technology will begin the construction of Plant 3 and Plant 4 in Poland in the third quarter this year and start producing by the end of 2023. The existing Plant 1 begins production in the third quarter this year, and Plant 2 is starting in the first quarter of 2023.

SK IE Technology has already secured approx. 860 million m2 production capacity in Korea, and Changzhou, China with plants in full operation. New plants under construction in Silesia, Poland, and Changzhou, China, will begin operating sequentially. Thus, the production capacity will increase to approx. 1.36 billion m2 by the end of this year. Through this investment in Plant 3 and 4 in Poland, the production capacity of 2024 will reach 2.73 billion m2.

“We will increase the supply of safe separators based on our unchallenged technology and wipe out the concerns on safety to contribute to the growing EV industry and lead SK IE Technology’s growth,” SK IE Technology’ CEO Roh Jae-sok emphasized.

Countries