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Motie: Government announces new policies to boost hydrogen industry

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South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo presided the fifth meeting of the Hydrogen Economy Commission (hereinafter “Commission”) on November 9 at the Lotte Hotel Seoul to announce the new hydrogen economy policy directions under Korea’s new regime in order to kick the industry’s growth into high gear.

This Commission meeting is the first of its kind since the new administration’s inauguration, which appointed its second-generation civilian members succeeding the end of their predecessors’ two-year term. The number of industry experts has upped from three to five so as to form a private-led hydrogen economy control tower.

The range of hydrogen policies was initially limited to a selection of areas like hydrogen cars and power generation fuel cells, preventing Korea’s hydrogen production, storage and transportation competitiveness from catching up with that of other developed nations.

Korea’s hydrogen ecosystem was chiefly centered around gray hydrogen, which is produced from fossil fuels and therefore insignificant in its greenhouse gas reduction effect. Gray hydrogen is created when reforming natural gas and is also a byproduct of petrochemicals and steelmaking process.

Accordingly, the new regime has announced the project task of “establishing a clean hydrogen supply chain and nurturing a world-leading hydrogen industry,” for which the new hydrogen economy policy directions have been announced at the Commission meeting.

The Government’s three major growth strategies (“3UP”) aim to “Scale-Up”, “Build-Up” and “Level Up.”

“Scale-Up” strategy sets out to expand the clean hydrogen ecosystem by establishing a global supply chain and creating large-scale hydrogen demand in terms of power generation and transportation. It aims to achieve hydrogen enriched combustion combining hydrogen and ammonia, and to enlarge the supply of high-mobility like hydrogen buses and trucks. Large-scale production bases will be built overseas.

“Build-Up” intends to establish a legal framework for the distribution infrastructure for accelerating clean hydrogen utilization. This includes building the world’s largest liquid hydrogen plant and fueling station, an ammonia and liquid hydrogen receiving terminal as well as installing a hydrogen pipeline. Plans also include opening a hydrogen bid market, hydrogen business laws legislation and introducing a clean hydrogen certification system.

“Level Up” is about technological innovation to become the world-leading hydrogen powerhouse. This entails securing core technologies for not just hydrogen utilization, but also for all areas across the full hydrogen lifecycle from production to distribution. Seven major strategic areas (e.g., water electrolysis, hydrogen turbines) are to be nurtured, and companies with technical prowess will receive support. Business-hampering regulations will be removed and domestic production will be commercialized for exporting to overseas markets.

The Government further outlined the following three courses of action plans for realizing the abovementioned hydrogen policies.

One, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) will be in charge of fostering a clean hydrogen ecosystem. Action plan includes the goal of producing 30,000 hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles by 2030, building 70 liquid hydrogen fueling stations and composing 7.1 percent of the nation’s energy mix with clean hydrogen by 2036.

Two, MOTIE will also take the reins of developing Korea into a global hydrogen powerhouse by securing advanced technologies, 10 top-ranked items and nurturing 600 hydrogen-focused companies by 2030.

Three, the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) will undertake the task of achieving the super gap in hydrogen technologies, such as fully localizing the water electrolysis technology, gaining the liquefaction and ammonia process technology and leading the hydrogen mobility market.

Held prior to the Committee meeting were the MOU signing ceremonies for the establishment of “West Sea Clean Ammonia Supply Chain” and “Liquid Hydrogen Ecosystem,” which Prime Minister Han Duck-soo attended and encouraged the companies’ business endeavors.

“West Sea Clean Ammonia Supply Chain MOU” expects to bring clean hydrogen production, distribution and utilization companies together to first produce large quantities of clean ammonia overseas, then supply it to Korea’s west coast region. Samsung, SK, POSCO, Lotte and Korea National Oil Corporation are to produce and distribute the clean energy, which will then be utilized by Korea South-East Power (KOSEP) and Korea Western Power (KOWEPO).

It is anticipated that this project will cause a widespread ripple effect across industries involved in the building of overseas production bases, transportation docks, domestic receiving and storage facilities.

“Liquid Hydrogen Ecosystem MOU” lays out plans for SK, Hyosung and HiChangwon to build a liquid hydrogen plant and charging station, and for Hyundai Motor supply the hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles. Meanwhile, MOTIE and relevant ministries will bolster support to foster an exemplary liquid hydrogen ecosystem.

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