On 21 September 2022, global materials technology and recycling company Umicore inaugurated Europe’s first gigafactory — its new plant producing cathode active materials for electric vehicles in Nysa, Poland.
This new facility is carbon neutral, powered by ENGIE’s wind park in Pągów, Poland’s Opole province, located 80 km from the Umicore site. Earlier in September, Umicore had signed an agreement with Norwegian state power company, Statkraft, Europe’s largest renewable power generator, for 60GW of guaranteed power supply per year until 2033 from its Nuolivaara wind farm in Finland for Umicore’s Kokkola refinery in the country. The Kokkola refinery will provide the precursors for the new Nysa cathode materials plant.
Nysa’s annual production capacity is set to reach 20 GWh by the end of 2023 and 40 GWh in 2024, with the potential to rise to over 200 GWh, or 3 million electric vehicles, in the second half of the decade. This growth trajectory is part of Umicore’s ambition to reach worldwide capacity of more than 400 GWh, equivalent to powering around 6 million electric vehicles by 2030, and overall strategy to establish fully integrated regional battery material value chains on three continents.
Umicore has allocated €5 billion to growth projects, with €1 allocated to new cathode material capacity including €1 billion for North America, with the rest split between Europe and Asia. The company, which has been working on lithium ion battery recycling since 2011, also aims to have Europe’s largest battery materials recycling capacity of 150,000t by 2026.
The opening of the new plant in Nysa makes Umicore the first company in Europe with a complete circular and sustainable battery materials value chain. The gigafactory will supply battery materials to Umicore’s car and battery cell customers in Europe and marks an important step in achieving the EU’s ambition of having its own sustainable and competitive battery ecosystem, Umicore said.
We’re very proud to open Europe’s very first gigafactory for cathode active materials. Umicore’s carbon neutral facility here in Nysa is a true enabler and accelerator of the e-mobility transformation across the European Union,” said Umicore ceo Mathias Miedreich.
“With this gigafactory, Umicore is leading the way in battery materials in Europe offering key ingredients for a responsible and sustainable value chain for electric transport. Its state-of-the-art product and process technologies complement our metals refining and cathode precursor production facility in Finland as well as our world-class R&D and pioneering battery recycling activities in Belgium. All these elements together, underscore how we are a reliable transformation partner for our customers, supporting them locally on their acceleration path towards sustainable electric mobility,” he said.
There is now is an increasing trend of OEMs looking to build a secure and sustainable upstream supply chain, he noted. Consequently, Umicore is in talks on long-term partnerships directly with automotive manufacturers. Following the opening of the Nysa gigafactory, on 26 September Umicore announced a €3bn joint venture with PowerCo, the new battery company of the Volkswagen Group, for precursor and cathode material production in Europe. Production at the JV is scheduled to start in 2025 to supply PowerCo’s Salzgitter factory and reaching an annual capacity of 40 GWh in 2026. Both partners target to grow the JV‘s annual production capacity to 160 GWh by the end of the decade, based on market and demand development. The search for a production site is underway.