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SK teams with Plug Power to tackle Asia's hydrogen ecosystem

By Feb 25, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

From left: SK E&S Vice President Yu Jeong-Joon, SK E&S President Choo Hyeong-wook, Plug Power CEO Andrew Marsh (on screen) and SK Holdings President Jang Dong-hyun
From left: SK E&S Vice President Yu Jeong-Joon, SK E&S President Choo Hyeong-wook, Plug Power CEO Andrew Marsh (on screen) and SK Holdings President Jang Dong-hyun


South Korea-based SK Group is ready to take on the growing Asian fuel cell market, having finalized a $1.6 billion deal to acquire around a 10% stake in US hydrogen fuel cell maker Plug Power Inc., the company announced on Feb. 25. 

SK Group and Plug Power also agreed to set up a joint venture in Korea within the year, a gigaplant that will mass produce fuel cells and conduct water electrolysis by 2023.

The Korea-based JV will be similar to Plug Power's 1.5 GW-a-year fuel cell production plant currently under construction in New York State. The plant is set to be completed in the second half of the year.

Once the plants begin operation, they will help curb the unit costs for hydrogen production, thereby contributing to the widespread use of hydrogen energy. The New York-based plant will target the North American market, while the Korea-based plant will focus on Asian markets.

SK teams with Plug Power to tackle Asia's hydrogen ecosystem


SK Group, in particular, is highly interested in China's hydrogen market. The Korean company aims to partner with a Chinese state-owned power company for hydrogen and fuel cell production, and also collaborate with a local manufacturer to mass produce hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Plug Power, the exclusive supplier of hydrogen-powered forklifts to global retailers such as Amazon and Walmart, is also looking into producing hydrogen forklifts in China to supply across Asian markets. 

"We are determined to successfully foray into Asia's hydrogen markets by utilizing SK Group's global network," said Andrew Marsh, the CEO of Plug Power.

The US-based company has been aggressively expanding its operations to build a global hydrogen economy. In Europe, Plug Power formed JVs with French automaker Renault, and Spain's largest renewable energy firm, Acciona.

"Setting up a hydrogen business value chain will be crucial to enhance SK Group's commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) management," said Jang.

Write to Jae-kwang Ahn at ahnjk@hankyung.com

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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