Korea to ensure energy security with hydrogen

Along with the nuclear power industry, Korea is working to develop the hydrogen industry as an axis that will be in charge of ensuring future energy security. One such initiative is accelerating the development of hydrogen infrastructure.

The EU (European Union) recently decided to impose carbon emission costs (carbon tax) on carbon-intensive products like steel starting in 2026. At the same time that efforts to achieve carbon neutrality are accelerating, the hydrogen industry, which is garnering attention as an alternative in Korea, investment is in full swing. The “Hydrogen Technology Roadmap,” which commits approximately 1 trillion won to the development of hydrogen technology, was released in October of last year and is in the process of creating a hydrogen energy ecosystem. This follows the announcement of the “Hydrogen Economy Revitalization Roadmap” in January 2019.

As the world’s energy supply and demand became uncertain as a result of the conflict that erupted between Russia and Ukraine at the beginning of last year, hydrogen has quickly become a viable alternative to coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG), which have previously been used.

Despite its enormous potential, hydrogen has been viewed as an energy source that is challenging to commercialize because of the price, technical, and safety concerns associated with its development. It is not locally concentrated, unlike crude oil or natural gas, and has a high energy efficiency, with hydrogen’s energy density per mass reaching four times that of gasoline.

The resuscitation of the hydrogen economy in Korea is being aided by local private businesses like SK and Lotte as well as public businesses like Gas Corporation, Gas Safety Corporation, National Oil Corporation, and Korea Electric Power Group. Among them, KOGAS amended the Korea Gas Corporation Act in December 2018 to include the hydrogen business in its target business, and in January 2021 it established a headquarters for the hydrogen business to build hydrogen production bases and charging stations as well as secure overseas green hydrogen. It has set the stage for developing a value chain.

In accordance with government policy, KOGAS intends to develop a plan to introduce foreign green hydrogen with a target of introducing 1 million tons, or more than 50% of the entire national import, by 2030. Through strategic alliances and M&A (mergers and acquisitions) with international energy companies, KOGAS plans to swiftly secure large-scale water electrolysis and hydrogen liquefaction technology. The company is currently reviewing the introduction of green hydrogen from Southeast Asia, northern countries, and Australia.

By developing a hydrogen utility specific to the conditions and demand characteristics of each region in Korea, such as Gwangju, Changwon, and Pyeongtaek, KOGAS intends to supply 830,000 tons of hydrogen annually by 2030. The basis of the hydrogen economic society, according to a KOGAS representative, is “safety,” which will raise public knowledge and reduce worry.

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