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Hydrogen economy

Hyundai, SK, POSCO, Hyosung agree to launch Korea’s hydrogen council

The consulting body will become the Korean version of the global initiative

By Jun 10, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Leaders of Hyundai, POSCO, Hyosung and SK (from left) agree to launch a Korean hydrogen council.
Leaders of Hyundai, POSCO, Hyosung and SK (from left) agree to launch a Korean hydrogen council.

Hyundai Motor Group and three other South Korean conglomerates have agreed to launch an industry-wide consultative body on hydrogen, underscoring an enhanced corporate commitment to the paradigm shift to a hydrogen economy.

The heads of Hyundai, SK, POSCO and Hyosung met on June 10 at Hyundai Motor Co.’s research center in Hwasung, south of Seoul, to discuss ways major companies can cooperate on hydrogen-related projects and carbon-neutrality targets.

The leaders said the consulting body will be tasked to encourage corporate investments, establish the domestic hydrogen ecosystem and expand the hydrogen value chain globally.

The inaugural members will officially launch the organization, tentatively named the K-Hydrogen Council, in September after finalizing which companies will be participating.

The agreement on Thursday is a follow-up to a series of bilateral meetings among top business leaders over the past few months to seek joint hydrogen business opportunities.

“Our goal is to foster the widespread use of clean energy across industries and advance the arrival of a hydrogen-based society,” said Chung Euisun, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group.

The meeting was attended by SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, POSCO Chairman Choi Jeong-woo and Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Hyun-joon.

The industry-wide push comes as tougher global environmental regulations on carbon emissions are driving governments and private companies to embrace the hydrogen economy, which utilizes hydrogen as a fuel for heat, hydrogen vehicles, energy storage and long-distance energy transport.

Hyundai Motor Group's fuel cell brand HTWO
Hyundai Motor Group's fuel cell brand HTWO

KOREAN VERSION OF HYDROGEN COUNCIL

The consultative body will be something similar to the Hydrogen Council, a global CEO-led initiative of 109 leading energy, transport, industry and investment companies with a united and long-term vision to develop the hydrogen economy.

The key ambitions of the global organization are to accelerate significant investment in the development and commercialization of the hydrogen and fuel cell sectors, and encourage key stakeholders to increase their backing of hydrogen as part of the future energy mix.

The inaugural members of the Hydrogen Council launched in 2017 include energy companies such as Saudi Aramco, Shell, Total and automakers including Hyundai Motor, BMW, Daimler, Audi and Toyota.

The Korean version of the hydrogen consulting body comes as the government is pushing to boost the supply of power from clean and renewable energy sources while weaning the country off nuclear and coal-fired plants.

South Korea has also vowed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, virtually reducing carbon emissions to zero.

Korea’s five conglomerates – the four groups that met on Thursday as well as Hanwha Group – said in March they will invest a combined 43 trillion won ($38 billion) in building an extensive hydrogen infrastructure, such as production and storage of hydrogen, by 2030.

Business leaders touring Hyundai's urban air mobility (UAM) system
Business leaders touring Hyundai's urban air mobility (UAM) system

INVESTMENT TO BUILD HYDROGEN INFRASTRUCTURE

Under the plan, Hyundai Motor Group will inject 11.1 trillion won into the development of hydrogen cars and hydrogen fuel cells, while installing more charging stations.

Under Hyundai’s mid- to long-term fuel cell roadmap unveiled in 2018, the company aims to produce 500,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles and 700,000 fuel cell systems by 2030 to solidify its leadership in the global hydrogen vehicle market.

SK Group said it will invest 18.5 trillion won to develop fuel cell power generation plants and hydrogen liquefaction facilities. POSCO, Hanwha and Hyosung also said they will spend 10 trillion won, 1.3 trillion won and 1.2 trillion won, respectively, on hydrogen-related projects.

For its part, the Korean government said it has earmarked 824.4 billion won in its 2021 budget to support corporate efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.

On Thursday, the leaders of the four conglomerates also toured Hyundai Motor’s facilities that build electric cars based on its Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) platform and its research center for urban air mobility (UAM) projects.

Write to Byung-Uk Do at dodo@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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