South Korea outlines hydrogen roadmap to boost industry

  • : Fertilizers, Hydrogen
  • 22/11/10

South Korea is aiming to boost its hydrogen industry by creating large-scale domestic demand, developing relevant infrastructure and establishing a global supply chain.

The country's trade, industry and energy ministry Motie expects these measures to have an economic effect of 47.1 trillion South Korean won ($34.1bn) and to cut 28mn t of greenhouse gases by 2030, without specifying a baseline, it said on 9 November.

The ministry said South Korea's hydrogen policies were "initially limited" to areas like hydrogen cars and power generation fuel cells. The ministry added that this prevented the country from being as competitive as other developed nations in areas such as hydrogen production, storage and transportation.

Motie noted that the country's hydrogen ecosystem was "chiefly centered around grey hydrogen", resulting in an "insignificant" effect in greenhouse gas reduction. Gray hydrogen is produced from natural gas and is also a by-product of petrochemicals and steelmaking process, with no carbon abating measures.

The government plans to create large-scale hydrogen demand in the transportation, power generation and industrial sectors. South Korea aims to raise its supply of high-mobility vehicles such as hydrogen buses and trucks, with a goal of producing 30,000 hydrogen commercial vehicles and building 70 liquid hydrogen-refuelling stations in the country by 2030. The country also plans to utilise hydrogen and ammonia in its power generation, with a goal of achieving 7.1pc of clean hydrogen power generation by 2036. South Korean firm Posco in September revealed plans to introduce hydrogen co-firing power generation technology, in what the firm described as the country's first hydrogen hybrid power generation project, with an aim of generating over 950 GWh/yr.

South Korea also hopes to establish large-scale domestic and overseas production bases. The country recently launched its first large-scale hydrogen demonstration project in Jeju city, aiming to produce 1,176 t/yr of hydrogen at a 60pc utilisation rate.

There are also plans to develop infrastructure for distribution to ramp up clean hydrogen utilisation. This includes establishing a hydrogen power generation bidding market next year, enacting legislation for hydrogen business, and introducing a clean hydrogen certification system in 2024.

South Korea also plans to secure core technologies across the entire hydrogen value chain. This includes developing technologies in seven areas: water electrolysis, liquid hydrogen carriers, trailers, charging stations, fuel cell (mobility), fuel cell (power generation), and hydrogen turbines. Regulations that hamper businesses will be removed and domestic production will be commercialised for export to overseas markets. The country also hopes to foster 600 hydrogen-specialised companies by 2030 from the current 52 firms.

The country plans to build the world's largest liquid hydrogen plant and increase the number of liquefied refuelling stations. It will also build a 4mn t/yr ammonia receiving terminal and a 100,000 t/yr liquid hydrogen receiving terminal, as well as install a hydrogen-only pipeline network.

Supply chain agreements

Domestic companies are collaborating in the development of a clean ammonia supply for use in clean power generation in the country.

Manufacturer Samsung, conglomerates SK and Lotte, steelmaker Posco, and state-owned oil company KNOC agreed to co-operate in producing large volumes of clean ammonia overseas to supply South Korea's west coast. State-owned utilities Korea South-East Power and Korea Western Power will then use the ammonia in clean power generation.

South Korean chemical producer Lotte Fine Chemical last month announced it will import 50,000t of blue ammonia from Saudi Arabia by the end of this year. Lotte Chemical also signed a deal in October to develop supply chains for low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia, eyeing production facilities in Australia and Chile.

South Korean firms are also working to create a liquid hydrogen ecosystem. SK, conglomerate Hyosung and liquid hydrogen producer Hychangwon will build a liquid hydrogen plant and charging station, with automaker Hyundai Motor supplying hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles. Motie and other relevant ministries will also strengthen support for related policies to "foster an exemplary liquid hydrogen ecosystem", Motie said.

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