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Korea: hydrogen car drivers to refuel their vehicles

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The government is exploring a measure that would allow hydrogen car drivers to refuel their vehicles on their own.

This aims to increase the supply of hydrogen vehicles by removing one of the hurdles to entrance into the usage of hydrogen vehicles: the difficulty of charging. The growth of environmentally friendly cars, such as hydrogen vehicles, is a key way of lowering internal combustion engine vehicles, which have been identified as the primary source of pollution in carbon neutrality.

On the 23rd, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy said that on the 26th, the Ministry of Industry will collect industry comments on the self-charging of hydrogen charging stations.

While President Moon Jae-in emphasizes the expansion of the hydrogen economy in accordance with the carbon-neutral trend, the government published the “Hydrogen Economy Revitalization Roadmap” in 2019 and was designated as a leading country in the hydrogen economy.

However, the spread of hydrogen infrastructure is hampered by relevant restrictions. Only hydrogen refueling station employees who have obtained safety training are allowed to recharge, according to the ‘High-Pressure Gas Safety Management Act.’ This implies that, unlike gas stations, drivers are unable to refuel themselves. This is true not just for hydrogen charging stations, but also for charging stations for liquefied natural gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG).

Korea is the only country in the OECD’s 22-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that prohibits self-charging at hydrogen refueling stations. Hydrogen car drivers may refill themselves in developed European nations such as France and Germany. In 2018, Japan made it permissible for drivers to self-charge hydrogen, and the High-Pressure Gas Security Act was revised in January of last year to allow unattended operation of hydrogen charging stations.

Because self-recharging is not feasible in Korea, only the Ulsan Gyeong-dong hydrogen refueling station, out of 74 nationally, is open 24 hours. Unlike petrol stations, which can self-fill oil 24 hours a day, hydrogen refueling stations are only open during specific hours, such as 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., putting a significant limit on customers who drive hydrogen vehicles.

As the government distributes hydrogen and electric cars, public awareness of environmental friendliness has grown, as has the number of individuals who use them.

As a result, it is essential to drive tens of kilometers round-trip to recharge in some non-metropolitan locations. Because of complex factors such as securing a site for a hydrogen charging station, opposition from residents, high hydrogen costs, and a hydrogen charging station operating deficit due to a limited supply of hydrogen vehicles, infrastructure expansion has been slow despite the growth of the hydrogen car market.

In this case, it is suggested that the conversion of about 100 LPG filling stations, including LPG filling stations, to convergent hydrogen filling stations be expedited. “The number of LPG charging stations that have been closed for business has climbed from 28 in 2017 to 41 this year,” Democratic Party legislator Hong Jung-min stated on the 20th during a general inspection of the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Industry and Energy SMEs and Startups Committee. The Ministry of Industry must endorse the accelerated deliberation in order for it to begin.”

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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