The KRW23bn (US$17.5m) facility will produce more than seven tonnes of hydrogen daily and be capable of supplying fuel for 410,000 hydrogen vehicles a year.

It is the first of its kind in the Korean capital region and the second in the nation after the facility in Changwon City – the capital of South Gyeongsang Province – which has been operating since the end of last year.

Dong Yeon Kim, Gyeonggi Province Governor, said, “We will do our utmost to promote the hydrogen economy as one of the measures for dealing with the climate crisis, centering on the Pyeongtaek hydrogen production complex. I have no doubt that this complex will play a key role in the carbon neutral era.”

Previously, Governor Kim pledged to create a “hydrogen fusion cluster” in the cities of Pyeongtaek and Ansan and make it a key hub for the hydrogen industry through linkage with specialised industries in the region.

Following the construction of the hydrogen production complex, Gyeonggi Province and Pyeongtaek City plan to build a hydrogen transportation complex connected to hydrogen refuelling stations near Pyeongtaek Port and to create a “hydrogen city” that uses hydrogen as its main energy source.

Financing has been drawn from the private sector (KRW8.15bn), city government (KRW7bn), central government (KRW4.85bn) and provincial government (KRW3bn).

The complex will produce hydrogen by reforming natural gas (a process of pyrolysing natural gas via steam) supplied from the Pyeongtaek LNG receiving base. From August, up to seven tons of hydrogen are slated for production per day (approximately 2,450 tonnes a year).

Most of the 33 hydrogen refuelling stations currently operating in the Korean capital region (20 in Gyeonggi Province, seven in Seoul, and six in Incheon) are supplied with hydrogen from remote locations such as Daesan, Ulsan, and Yeosu, which are more than 120km away on average.

As the completion of this complex stands to substantially reduce hydrogen transportation costs, the provincial government expects the hydrogen supply price in the capital region area to drop as well.

Meanwhile, from 2019, the Korean central government (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy) has been planning to build small hydrogen production bases that supply hydrogen fuel using city gas near demand sites so as to resolve the regional bias in the supply of hydrogen produced in petrochemical complexes such as Daesan, Ulsan and Yeosu.

This initiative is being implemented in seven regions across the country. The Ministry plans to complete the currently planned establishment of seven small-scale hydrogen production bases (natural gas-based) within this year so as to realise carbon neutrality, and to additionally support the construction of clean hydrogen production bases with water electrolysis and carbon capture functions by 2026.

South Korea sees hydrogen as a potential driver of economic growth worth KRW43trn and 420,000 new jobs, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Hydrogen Energy Network (HyNet) was established in 2019, with an initial investment of $119m, to expand the fleet from about 24 HRS in 2019 to 310 this year and 1,200 by 2040, by which time it also aims to deploy 15GW of utility-scale fuel cells.

Read more:  Natural gas and coal-based power plants in South Korea could soon be powered by green hydrogen and ammonia following a new agreement

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