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S Korea to provide 27.9 mil mt/year of 'clean hydrogen' by 2050

  • Author
  • Charles Lee
  • Editor
  • Adithya Ram
  • Commodity
  • Coal Electric Power Energy Transition LNG Natural Gas Oil Metals Energy Transition
  • Topic
  • Energy Transition Environment and Sustainability Hydrogen: Beyond the Hype

South Korea will provide 27.9 million mt/year of "clean hydrogen" by 2050, all of which will be either green or blue hydrogen, excluding grey hydrogen, as part of efforts to expand hydrogen production and consumption in order to make it the country's number one energy source by 2050, replacing oil, the energy ministry said Nov. 26.

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The detailed plans to make South Korea a "first mover in the hydrogen economy" were adopted at the Cabinet meeting attended by the prime minister, energy-industry minister, economy-finance minister and environmental minister, among others.

Under the plans, the country will provide 3.9 million mt/year of hydrogen in 2030 -- 940,000 mt/year of grey hydrogen, 750,000 mt/year of blue hydrogen and 250,000 mt/year of locally-produced green hydrogen -- while importing 1.96 million mt/year of green hydrogen from overseas, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

South Korea currently does not produce any clean hydrogen, with all of the 220,000 mt produced in 2020 being fossil fuel-based grey hydrogen.

By 2050, South Korea will provide 27.9 million mt/year of hydrogen -- by producing 3 million mt/year of green hydrogen and 2 million mt/year of blue hydrogen, while importing 22.9 million mt/year of green hydrogen from overseas, without any grey hydrogen.

"South Korea will increase investments in overseas projects to produce clean hydrogen projects with its own capital and technologies," the ministry said in a statement, adding that the country will boost cooperation with hydrogen producing countries to secure around 40 hydrogen supply channels by 2050.

The massive supply plans would lower production prices of green hydrogen to Won 3,500/kg ($3/kg) by 2030 and Won 2,500/kg by 2050, the ministry said.

The country also plans to secure carbon storage facilities with a capacity of more than 900 million mt/year by 2030 so as to produce 2 million mt/year of blue hydrogen by 2050.

"South Korea's clean hydrogen self-sufficiency ratio will rise to 34% in 2030 and 60% in 2050," it said.

In line with the government-led push, private power utility and city gas provider SK E&S signed an agreement with a provincial government and state-run power utility Nov. 26 to build South Korea's first blue hydrogen production plant with a capacity of 250,000 mt/year by 2025 on the country's west coast.

Of them, 200,000 mt/year will be provided for hydrogen fuel cell electricity generation and 50,000 mt/year will be used for vehicles.

The MOTIE forecasts South Korea's hydrogen demand to rise to 3.9 million mt/year in 2030 -- 3.53 million mt/year for power production and 370,000 mt/year for vehicles, according to the ministry.

Hydrogen demand would further rise to reach 27.9 million mt/year in 2050 -- 13.5 million mt/year for power production, 2.2 million mt/year for vehicles and 12.2 million mt/year for industrial use.

In order to spur demand and improve hydrogen infrastructure, more than 2,000 charging stations will be set up nationwide by 2050, with at least one charging station to be established at 226 wards and counties nationwide, according to the ministry.

The government also plans to encourage such sectors as steel and chemical to turn to hydrogen-based production processes and apply the clean energy source to various means of transportation, including drones, trams and vessels.

"Hydrogen will become our largest single energy source in 2050, which will account for 33% of the total energy consumption, replacing oil that accounts for 49.3% currently," the ministry said.

"Hydrogen is the most powerful means of achieving the zero-carbon goal," it said. In October last year, President Moon Jae-in declared that South Korea will achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 by replacing coal-fired power generation with renewable sources and internal combustion engines vehicles with hydrogen-powered and battery-based electric vehicles.