The Republic of Korea is going all-out to transition to a hydrogen-based economy, investing billions of dollars to position itself as a leader in the emerging technology. Korean companies are accelerating their efforts to develop renewable hydrogen capacity as the country makes the shift to carbon neutrality by 2050. Korea has ambitious plans to more than double the amount of hydrogen vehicle refueling stations to 180 by the end of the year. Korea announced its Hydrogen Economy Roadmap in January 2019 with the aim of placing Korea at the forefront of the global hydrogen transition.
In the last few years, interest has grown in using green hydrogen in Korea, and government and businesses alike have started to acknowledge the fact that a green hydrogen-based economy could be the answer to growing concerns over carbon emissions, energy security, and climate change. However, nearly all hydrogen, which is already used heavily in industry, is produced using fossil fuels. In fact, 6% of global natural gas and 2% of coal currently goes to hydrogen production. Obviously, it is not low-carbon since fossil fuels are used to produce it. Korea is not an exception. All hydrogen in Korea is produced as a by-product of the fossil-fuel chemical industry; it is not green. But hydrogen can be produced without fossil fuels, using renewable energy to split water in a process called electrolysis. This process is expensive, and currently just 0.1% of hydrogen is made using it, but this is where the main hope lies for a climate-friendly future. Green hydrogen can be emission-free – it can be generated from renewable electricity such as geothermal, run-of-river hydropower, solar or wind power by electrolysis, from biogas by steam reforming, or from biomass through thermal conversion.
Green hydrogen in the Republic of Korea and Australia
Republic of Korea: In January 2019, Korea announced its Hydrogen Economy Roadmap. The Roadmap outlines the country’s ambition to produce 6.2 million fuel cell electric vehicles and roll out at least 1,200 refilling stations by 2040. In addition, the plan aims to roll out at least 35 hydrogen buses on the street in 2019, ramping this number up to 2,000 by 2022 and 41,000 by 2040. In terms of the energy sector, the roadmap outlines an objective to supply 15 GW of fuel cell for power generation by 2040.
Australia: Under the National Hydrogen Strategy unveiled in November 2019, Australia aims to become a hydrogen ‘powerhouse’ by 2030, particularly blue and green production through carbon capture and storage (CCS) and access to substantial renewable resources. The national strategy is one of many in play – a number of State governments have declared similar intentions and at least a dozen hydrogen projects for production, transportation or export and consumption have been announced or are underway.
The Republic of Korea has stepped up its efforts to move to green hydrogen and the private sector is taking a lead role in transiting to a green hydrogen future. On June 9, 2021, the heads of major Korean conglomerates met to discuss ways to establish a consultative body on hydrogen to help the country achieve a green hydrogen economy. The move comes as Korea is pushing to boost the supply of power from clean and renewable energy sources. Korea has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Korean companies have also made commitments to invest in building a wide range of hydrogen infrastructure, such as production and storage of hydrogen by 2030 – which is a step in the right direction for achieving a green hydrogen economy. These are great news, but hydrogen, today, accounts for about 4% of final energy demand globally, and over 95% of that is generated from fossil fuels. So, the first thing is hydrogen is not very green yet; but it can be and there are technology solutions to that and decarbonizing hydrogen and producing green hydrogen is a huge commercial opportunity for both Korea and Australia.
The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) is well-positioned to support countries to embrace hydrogen. Green hydrogen can be produced in GGGI’s Member countries like Indonesia, India, and Lao PDR. In close consultation with the Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), GGGI is exploring an electrolytic green hydrogen project in Indonesia. The Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS) and Hyundai Motor Company are also invited to work together as consortium partners. GGGI will explore project funding from different stakeholders, including investment opportunities from Fortescue Metals Group and the Korean government as well as co-financing from participating Korean private sector stakeholders.
This event will serve as an important occasion for all related stakeholders to exchange their views and strategies – as they share a common goal to transition to a green hydrogen future. GGGI, an intergovernmental organization dedicated to supporting its members transition to environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive green growth pathways, is ready to help develop, structure, and mobilize clean finance for such projects.
During the discussion, panelists will touch upon the importance of green hydrogen projects in the context of green technologies and resource mobilization. There will be an interactive discussion among panelists from Australia, Indonesia, and Korea. Participant will get an opportunity to gain an insight from experts from governments, research institutes, and public and private sector entities. The Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), the Korea Gas Corporation, and Hyundai Motor Company have been invited to become consortium partners for GGGI.
GGGI will collaborate with its consortium partners to support its Members like Indonesia to carry out feasibility studies and invest in projects in target areas through working closely with its government counterparts, including the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MoEMR). Moreover, GGGI and its consortium partners will look into scaling up a green hydrogen project in Indonesia and seek for areas of cooperation with other countries.
Click here to see FFI’s presentation.
Click here to access H2Korea’s presentation.