South Korea has unveiled plans to build the world’s largest liquid hydrogen plant, taking a lead among Asian countries to embrace the clean fuel in its quest to speed up the energy transition process and cut dependence on imported oil.
The plan forms a part of South Korean government’s hydrogen blueprint that was unveiled last year — the vision to sharply increase production of hydrogen-powered vehicles and electricity generation by hydrogen in an effort to use hydrogen as a major energy source for transportation and power generation.
Under a memorandum of understanding, the two companies will build a liquid hydrogen plant with a capacity of 13,000 mt/year by 2022 in Ulsan on South Korea’s southeast coast, which houses the country’s major refiners and petrochemical makers, such as SK Innovation and S-Oil Corp, as well as the country’s top automaker Hyundai Motor, which is focusing on hydrogen-powered vehicles.
“The 13,000 mt/year liquid hydrogen plant, which can power 100,000 hydrogen vehicles on a single charge, will be the world’s single biggest such plant,” the Hyosung official said.
For the project, Hyosung and Linde will aim to set up a 50:50 joint venture within this year. Hyosung and Linde will also build 50 new hydrogen charging stations and expand facilities at 70 other hydrogen charging stations in South Korea by 2022.
“Liquid hydrogen will be used mainly for vehicles but also used in drones, ships and forklifts,” the official said.
The MOU was signed on April 28 by Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Hyun-joon and Linde Korea Chairman Sung Baek-seok.
“The investment will play a big role in facilitating South Korea’s hydrogen ecosystem and the government’s push for hydrogen economy.” Cho said in a statement.
South Korea currently imports 100% of its crude oil needs.
Under the “roadmap for hydrogen economy,” South Korea will produce 81,000 hydrogen-powered cars by 2022, which will increase to 6.2 million units by 2040, which is significant, given South Korea has a total of 22 million vehicles on the roads, using mainly gasoline, diesel and LPG as fuels.
The blueprint also calls for the country to supply 15 GW of hydrogen fuel cell capacity for electricity production in 2040, of which 8 GW will be for domestic use. The 8 GW capacity is about 7% of South Korea’s combined power generation capacity of 116 GW.
“For Asia, the opportunities can expand to transportation — a segment where countries such as Korea, China and Japan have set national targets — as well as industrial heat needs and steelmaking. There can also be some blending of H2 into natural gas grids,” Roman Kramarchuk, Head of Scenarios, Policy and Technology Analytics, at S&P Global Platts, said recently.
ASIA’S ENERGY TRANSITION DREAM
Not just South Korea, but other Asian countries, such as Singapore, India, Australia and Japan are either setting aside funds or speeding up policy formulation in an effort to find ways to embrace hydrogen in their energy mix.
The Australian government Monday announced the creation of a A$300 million ($191.5 million) fund for new hydrogen projects that align with the country’s National Hydrogen Strategy. The government said it had “made available” more than A$500 million to support hydrogen projects since 2015.
Australia hopes to become a hydrogen exporter by 2030, and at this stage expects Japan to be the major customer.
Recently, five Singapore and two Japanese companies recently signed an agreement to study how hydrogen as a low-carbon alternative can contribute to a clean and sustainable energy future for Singapore.
In addition, Japan H2 Mobility, or JHyM, intends to launch at least 24 more hydrogen stations in Japan in fiscal 2020-21 — which runs from April 2020 to March 2021– following the recent participation of Konan Kogyo in the further development of the country’s hydrogen station network, a JHyM official said April 24.
JHyM’s plan to launch at least 24 more hydrogen stations is part of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s target to install 160 hydrogen stations in fiscal 2020-21.
Experts also believe that policymakers would have to push technologies that encourage production of hydrogen from coal in countries like India and China, rather than expanding power output from coal-based power plants to drive electric vehicles.
The International Energy Agency has identified a few ways to create demand for hydrogen: making industrial ports nerve centers for hydrogen use; introducing clean hydrogen to replace a small portion of natural gas supplies; powering high-mileage cars, trucks and buses; and launching trade in hydrogen.