SK Innovation has begun acting on its plans to produce Lithium Battery Separators (LiBS) over the next three years by kick-starting the operation at its new plant in Jeungpyeong of North Chungcheong Province.
On Dec. 17, SK i.e. Technology – the sister company of SK Innovation handling material production – began to mass produce the LiBS. The separator production volume will now jump to 530 million square meters from the previous 360 million square meters. In 2020, SK Innovation will also be expanding its facilities in China and Poland.
At the end of the three-year cycle, SK Innovation’s total separator production volume will grow to an annual 1.21 billion square meters.
However, the amount is not enough to catch up to the market’s top two players – Asahi Kasei of Japan and SEMCORP of China. Asahi Kasei currently produces 900 million square meters a year, while SEMCORP produces 1.5 billion square meters. Both are hoping to further expand.
By 2021, Asahi Kasei plans to ramp up production to 1.55 billion square meters to meet the growing demand. Due to the same reason, SEMCORP is looking to increase to 2.83 billion square meters in 2020. In May, SEMCORP signed a $617million LiBS supply deal with LG Chem.
“The global battery separator market is being dominated by the three players, SEMCORP, Asahi Kasei and SK Innovation,” said one market watcher. “Each will look to expand their facilities to stabilize production and ultimately cut their prices.”
As more carmakers are opting for EVs, so grows the demand for battery production. According to market research firm SNE Research, the demand for EV batteries will rise to 916GWh by 2023. Actual production, however, is expected to reach only 776GWh.
Approximately 100 million square meters of separators are needed for one EV model. A bigger EV lineup, therefore, from carmakers, will lead to bigger demand for separators.
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