Umicore accelerates European E-Mobility with Nysa Gigafactory
In September 2022, Umicore took a landmark step when it inaugurated Europe’s first battery materials gigafactory in Nysa, Poland. The carbon-neutral production facility will supply cathode-active materials to Umicore’s car and battery cell customers in Europe, confirming the company’s front-runner position in this fast-growing market.
The state-of-the-art production facility in Nysa complements Umicore’s existing refining and precursor cathode active materials (pCAM) production facility in Finland, as well as its world-class R&D and pioneering battery recycling activities in Belgium. With the inauguration of the Nysa plant, Umicore is now the first company in Europe with a complete circular and sustainable battery materials value chain.
Growth to meet demand
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.
There is strong demand from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Europe for battery materials, which Umicore aims to meet with its growing production capacity. For example, it recently signed an agreement with the cell-maker Automotive Cells Co. (ACC) for the supply of next generation high-nickel cathode materials. Volumes are expected to reach 46 GWh by 2030, enough to power 500,000 EVs per year. Umicore has also signed a joint venture agreement with the Volkswagen Group’s battery company, PowerCo, with an annual capacity of 40 GWh by 2026 and 160 GWh by 2030, enough to power 2.2 million EVs.
Local for local
Deals like this show an increasing move among European OEMs to reduce their supply chain risks. As such, EV manufacturers and cell-makers are increasingly seeking to secure supplies of critical battery materials closer to home. Umicore’s know-how on the upstream of the battery value chain, its growing production and recycling capacity, and its sustainable business model all support this strategic shift in Europe.
Umicore is leading in this ‘local for local’ trend by bringing battery materials production capacity closer to the EV manufacturers and cell-makers, not only in Europe but also in North America as it plans to construct another gigafactory in Canada, and has a strong presence in Asia. As such, Umicore aims to establish fully integrated regional battery material value chains.
The Nysa site will not only lead the way in terms of European battery materials production, but also support Umicore’s strategic aim to be a sustainability champion in the battery value chain. Striking among the Nysa plant’s sustainability credentials is the fact that it is powered by 100 percent green electricity from a nearby wind farm. Umicore has entered into a power purchase agreement to secure long-term renewable energy supply for the gigafactory and contribute towards Umicore’s journey to carbon neutrality for its Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 2035.
The Nysa plant has been developed with the sustainability of the local community in mind. The development of the facility, which began in 2019, was conducted in close consultation with local stakeholders and municipalities, with local employment being a key aim. Umicore employed about 257 people at the Nysa facility towards the end of 2022, and is expecting to increase to 400 by the end of 2023. Many of these technically skilled people are based locally, saving them the need to travel long distances for work. As the Nysa plant grows, Umicore expects to be the largest employer in the area.
An important element of the July opening was inviting local stakeholders, suppliers and customers to the Nysa plant to explain Umicore’s ambition and strategy and to see its facilities and production capabilities up close. As well as seeing the plant’s high sustainability standards and practices, the visit also showed customers that Umicore now has the capacity and expertise to serve their needs with a truly circular, sustainable and internationally competitive production hub in the European battery ecosystem.