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Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How?

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by: Joris Zuid
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South Korea wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022. South Korea is vying to win the race to create the first hydrogen-powered society. It wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022 as it positions itself as a leader in the green technology.

Hydrogen Cities: Living, Transportation

The plan will see the cities use hydrogen as the fuel for cooling, heating, electricity and transportation. Consultation on where the three cities will be located is under way. The test cities will use a hydrogen-powered transportation system, including buses and personal cars. Hydrogen charging stations will be available in bus stations and parking spaces.

The strategy is part of a wider vision to power 10% of the country’s cities, counties and towns by hydrogen by 2030, growing to 30% by 2040. This includes drastic increases in the numbers of hydrogen-powered vehicles and charging points in the next three years. The government has earmarked money to subsidize these vehicles and charging infrastructure.

Recommended: Green Hydrogen Economy: The Enormous Potential Worldwide

South Korea’s Hydrogen Roadmap’s Goals

The goal of Korea’s hydrogen roadmap is essentially to make the country the world’s largest producer of fuel cells globally by 2030. By 2040, Korea aims to be producing over six million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. And it wants 40,000 hydrogen-powered buses, 80,000 hydrogen taxis and 30,000 hydrogen trucks on its roads all powered by 1,200 hydrogen refuelling stations.
On the stationary power side, the country wants to build on its lead in fuel cells for utility power generation, while also placing increased focus on fuel cells for residential and commercial use here. By 20 years’ time, South Korea wants to be producing 15GW of fuel cells for its domestic and export markets.

Hydrogen cities plan

And this does not just look like wishful thinking, as it’s being backed by some serious investment. Next year alone, the Korean government will invest almost half a billion dollars in the hydrogen economy of which will be spent on fuel cell vehicles and refuelling stations. That’s a ten-fold increase on its 2018 spending and represents only the public sector side. Hyundai and its suppliers alone plan to invest an additional USD $6.5 billion by 2030. 

How to produce hydrogen?
  • Natural Gas Reforming/Gasification: Synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a small amount of carbon dioxide, is created by reacting natural gas with high-temperature steam. The carbon monoxide is reacted with water to produce additional hydrogen. This method is the cheapest, most efficient, and most common. Natural gas reforming using steam accounts for the majority of hydrogen produced in the United States annually
  • A synthesis gas can also be created by reacting coal or biomass with high-temperature steam and oxygen in a pressurized gasifier, which is converted into gaseous components—a process called gasification. The resulting synthesis gas contains hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is reacted with steam to separate the hydrogen
  • Electrolysis: An electric current splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the electricity is produced by renewable sources, such as solar or wind, the resulting hydrogen will be considered renewable as well, and has numerous emissions benefits. Power-to-hydrogen projects are taking off, where excess renewable electricity, when it's available, is used to make hydrogen through electrolysis
  • Renewable Liquid Reforming: Renewable liquid fuels, such as ethanol, are reacted with high-temperature steam to produce hydrogen near the point of end use
  • Fermentation: Biomass is converted into sugar-rich feedstocks that can be fermented to produce hydrogen
A number of hydrogen production methods are in development:
  • High-Temperature Water Splitting: High temperatures generated by solar concentrators or nuclear reactors drive chemical reactions that split water to produce hydrogen
  • Photobiological Water Splitting: Microbes, such as green algae, consume water in the presence of sunlight, producing hydrogen as a byproduct
  • Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting: Photoelectrochemical systems produce hydrogen from water using special semiconductors and energy from sunlight.


                                                   South Korea build 3 hydrogen-powered cities in Future
                                                    Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How?


Hydrogen, The Fuel Of The Future

Countries including Germany, Japan and China are also looking to a future hydrogen society, with a number of Asian car manufacturers including Hyundai, Toyota and Honda sinking resources into creating a range of hydrogen-powered cars.

Recommended: Green Sustainable Hydrogen By Hyundai, Toyota And Honda

With fuel cell vehicles – or FCVs – generally offering greater range and faster refuelling times than electric vehicles, there is great hope that they will accelerate the transition to cleaner vehicles. But challenges remain with the technology. Although some FCVs are now on the market, for many the cost remains prohibitive and they have some way to go before they become mainstream.

3 Korea Ulsan cars

The output from hydrogen-powered cars is certainly clean – they only produce water as a by-product – at the moment they are not necessarily as clean as they may first seem. Producing the hydrogen itself from renewable energy sources like wind and solar is still a challenge.

Recommended: Hydrogen Powered Car That Emits Water No CO2: The Rasa

Hydrogen, Alternative Energy In The World

Moving to clean energy is key to combatting climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated. Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago.

Is hydrogen better than fossil fuels?
Hydrogen fuel is very efficient. More energy is extracted from this fuel source than with conventional power technologies. Fossil fuels have a high combustion rate and are capable of releasing tremendous amount of energy.

Recommended: Fossil Fuel Will Dominate Energy Use Through 2050: Globally

Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system. Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia.

CO2 emissions graph

Recommended: Zero Emission Day: No Fossil Fuel Transport Worldwide

The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions. To future-proof the global energy system, the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Energy initiative is working with projects including the Partnering for Sustainable Energy Innovation, the Future of Electricity, the Global Battery Alliance and Scaling Renewable Energy to encourage and enable innovative energy investments, technologies and solutions.

Hydrogen-Powered Cities: What About Safety?

How dangerous is hydrogen?
When liquid hydrogen is stored in tanks, it's relatively safe, but if it escapes there are associated hazards. Topping the list of concerns is hydrogen burns. In the presence of an oxidizer - oxygen is a good one - hydrogen can catch fire, sometimes explosively, and it burns more easily than gasoline does.

The other major caveat is hydrogen’s explosive nature, which is still causing safety concerns. Earlier this year (2019) an explosion of a hydrogen storage tank at one of South Korea’s government research projects killed two people and injured others. Storage of the gas requires a lot of infrastructure, and despite government incentives to support development, until hydrogen becomes more widespread private investors can still struggle to turn a profit.

Hydrogen fuel station South Korea Blow Up

Recommended: Hydrogen Energy Storage Revolution In The Netherlands

Fortunate a research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), South Korea, has invented a high-performance and cost-effective hydrogen sensor. Hydrogen gas is widely considered to be one of the most promising next-generation energy resources. It is also an important material for various industrial applications, such as hydrogen-cooled systems, petroleum refinement and metallurgical processes. However, hydrogen, which is highly flammable, is colourless and odourless and thus difficult to detect with human senses. Therefore, developing hydrogen gas sensors with high sensitivity, fast response, high selectivity and good stability is important for the growing hydrogen economy.
Hydrogen sensor
Hydrogen sensor

In the present study, a team of scientists led by Professors Park In-gyu and Jung Yeon-Sik from KAIST successfully fabricated a nanostructured high-performance hydrogen gas sensor. Their sensor achieved dramatically greater hydrogen gas sensitivity compared with a silicon thin film sensor without nanopatterns. The sensor device shows a fast hydrogen response (response time less than five seconds) and ten times higher selectivity for hydrogen gas than other gases. They also demonstrated that the sensor was stable and produced reliable responses in both dry and high-humidity ambient environments.

Is hydrogen dangerous to breathe?
Inhalation: High concentrations of this gas can cause an oxygen-deficient environment. Individuals breathing such an atmosphere may experience symptoms which include headaches, ringing in ears, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting and depression of all the senses.

Hydrogen-Powered Economy

South Korea underlines a great determination to shift large swathes of its economy to hydrogen energy by 2040 from power and heat generation to passenger and freight transport. This is bringing huge opportunities for western firms, particularly in the upstream hydrogen technologies Korean companies need to complement their strength in fuel cells.

Recommended: Hydrogen Car Is Extremely Fuel Efficient: 5.000 Km One Liter

Hydrogen water design image

South Korea Bets Big On Hydrogen: Why?

Korea hopes that, by becoming a leader in hydrogen energy, it can improve its terrible air quality, meet its bold emission reduction targets, strengthen its energy security and create the jobs and export industries of the future. There’s now ferocious opposition to coal in Korea due to its effect on air quality, and to nuclear power on account of safety concerns. While more solar and wind power is coming online here, few believe these will ever be adequate, reliable energy sources for the country’s dense population centres or its energy-intensive manufacturing base. 

Recommended: Renewables In Danger! Solar And Wind Energy: Start Digging

At the same time, Korea is now able to import large quantities of cheap natural gas from the US. As most of the hydrogen used in energy production is ‘still’ reformed from natural gas, a hydrogen economy potentially allows the country to reduce its dependence on oil from the Middle East and geopolitical chokepoints such as the Straits of Hormuz and Straits of Malacca. So, if the country is able to roll out a safe infrastructure and drive the necessary technologies down the cost curve, hydrogen fuel cells hold the promise of reliable, large-scale distributed power on a small footprint. And, if Korea can crack that nut, the global export potential for its fuel cells could be huge.

South Korea’s Current Situation On Hydrogen

South Korea already has strong incentives that encourage the uptake of fuel cells, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, mandatory renewable energy in public buildings and subsidies for fuel cell vehicles. The new hydrogen roadmap builds on these measures. 

                                        Hydrogen Fuel Cells Overview - 1 (HYDROGEN FUEL CELL DRONE)
                                                    Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How?


In terms of the primary players, Doosan dominates the stationary fuel cell market here with three technologies. The latest of these - an SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) product. Doosan’s PAFC (phosphoric acid fuel cell) product is the first viable utility-scale fuel cell in the Korean market albeit still supported by state subsidies.
Doosan’s PAFC division topped USD $1 billion in 2018, with most coming from the domestic market. The company has now modified its product so it’s able to run directly on hydrogen (rather than natural gas) and recently won a contract for the largest such fuel cell installation in the world.

What is a fuel cell?
A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of a fuel (often hydrogen) and an oxidizing agent (often oxygen) into electricity through a pair of redox reactions. Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as fuel and oxygen are supplied.

man stacked fuel cell hydrogen
Doosan employee Ben Yoon with an individual cell stack. Four stacks are combined in a fuel cell unit

Doosan also became the first company in the world to commercialise hydrogen-powered drones when it launched its DS30 drone system this month. The drone is able to stay airborne for two hours and is aimed primarily at global infrastructure and logistics markets.

Hydrogen Transport: What About Fuel Cell Cars?

What are types of fuel cells?
  • Types of Fuel Cells
  • Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells
  • Direct methanol fuel cells
  • Alkaline fuel cells
  • Phosphoric acid fuel cells
  • Molten carbonate fuel cells
  • Solid oxide fuel cells
  • Reversible fuel cells

Korea’s Hyundai, meanwhile, leads the global pack in fuel cell cars, alongside Japan’s Toyota. 

Recommended: Hydrogen Transport Wins It From The Electric Battery Car

Hyundai wants to drive the uptake of fuel cells on a worldwide scale and recently announced it will sell its PEM (proton-exchange membrane) fuel cell drive system to other OEMs. This month, the company also signed an MOU with American engine manufacturer Cummins, aiming to replace diesel trucks with fuel cell trucks in the US commercial vehicle market. So, Doosan and Hyundai dominate in Korea, but there are plenty of other strong local players here, too.

                                           Hyundai Hydrogen Powered Autonomous Self Driving Semi Truck
                                                    Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How?


International entrants are also looking to exploit the market and signing licensing or distribution agreements with well-placed Korean firms. US firm Bloom Energy, for example, signed a distribution agreement with SK D&D this year and, just this month, announced a collaboration with Samsung Heavy Industries to develop fuel cell-powered cargo ships. 

Recommended: Solar, Hydrogen And Wind Power Makes The Current Sail Cargo Ship

South Korea’s Hydrogen: Emerging Opportunities

Hydrogen storage, distribution and production, though currently a developed area, represent significant potential for heavy industrial companies to capture new business opportunities. What they need to do is to move away from the status quo:

  • Steel and petrochemical companies. Upgrade their existing facilities to produce more hydrogen for future use
  • Shipbuilders. New business from liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers and build hydrogen powered vessels to replace diesel vessels in the future
  • Gasoline companies. Leverage the existing storage and distribution network to tap into the hydrogen fuelling station infrastructure development.

On balance, there is a strong incentive for these industrial players to participate in the hydrogen infrastructure investments, given the potential to generate sustainable earnings.

Hydrogen: The Dawn Of The Shifting Trend

That said, there must be systematic research and development, together with a clear governmental policy framework and funding mechanisms to incentivise private companies to participate. State-funded think tank H2Korea was set up to bridge the gap between the government and private sectors on hydrogen technologies. In addition, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has earmarked an investment outlay of USD2.23 billion for a joint venture with private sector companies to speed up the development of the hydrogen infrastructure.
Such partnerships between government and business are powerful because they increase the amount of funding and result in better vetting of the projects, thereby yielding greater economic benefits.

Hydrogen graph

In view of this, the outlook for Korea’s hydrogen industry and the associated responsible investment opportunities should remain positive. Only asset managers who can understand the implications of this shifting trend and identify emerging leaders within this space can fully tap into the potential of South Korea’s emerging hydrogen industry.

Before you go!

Recommended: Hydrogen Is The Fuel Of The Future: Questions & Answers

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I'm especially interested in new Hydrogen techniques. I'm convinced that - in the near future - Hydrogen will surpass the development of solar or wind as alternative energy source. Safety concerns will find a solution and Hydrogen will be applied massively in all forms of transportation. 

I'm especially interested in new Hydrogen techniques. I'm convinced that - in the near future - Hydrogen will surpass the development of solar or wind as alternative energy source. Safety concerns will find a solution and Hydrogen will be applied massively in all forms of transportation. 

Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How?

South Korea wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022. South Korea is vying to win the race to create the first hydrogen-powered society. It wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022 as it positions itself as a leader in the green technology. Hydrogen Cities: Living, Transportation The plan will see the cities use hydrogen as the fuel for cooling, heating, electricity and transportation. Consultation on where the three cities will be located is under way. The test cities will use a hydrogen-powered transportation system, including buses and personal cars. Hydrogen charging stations will be available in bus stations and parking spaces. The strategy is part of a wider vision to power 10% of the country’s cities, counties and towns by hydrogen by 2030, growing to 30% by 2040. This includes drastic increases in the numbers of hydrogen-powered vehicles and charging points in the next three years. The government has earmarked money to subsidize these vehicles and charging infrastructure. Recommended:  Green Hydrogen Economy: The Enormous Potential Worldwide South Korea’s Hydrogen Roadmap’s Goals The goal of Korea’s hydrogen roadmap is essentially to make the country the world’s largest producer of fuel cells globally by 2030. By 2040, Korea aims to be producing over six million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. And it wants 40,000 hydrogen-powered buses, 80,000 hydrogen taxis and 30,000 hydrogen trucks on its roads all powered by 1,200 hydrogen refuelling stations. On the stationary power side, the country wants to build on its lead in fuel cells for utility power generation, while also placing increased focus on fuel cells for residential and commercial use here. By 20 years’ time, South Korea wants to be producing 15GW of fuel cells for its domestic and export markets. And this does not just look like wishful thinking, as it’s being backed by some serious investment. Next year alone, the Korean government will invest almost half a billion dollars in the hydrogen economy of which will be spent on fuel cell vehicles and refuelling stations. That’s a ten-fold increase on its 2018 spending and represents only the public sector side. Hyundai and its suppliers alone plan to invest an additional USD $6.5 billion by 2030.  How to produce hydrogen? Natural Gas Reforming/Gasification: Synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a small amount of carbon dioxide, is created by reacting natural gas with high-temperature steam. The carbon monoxide is reacted with water to produce additional hydrogen. This method is the cheapest, most efficient, and most common. Natural gas reforming using steam accounts for the majority of hydrogen produced in the United States annually A synthesis gas can also be created by reacting coal or biomass with high-temperature steam and oxygen in a pressurized gasifier, which is converted into gaseous components—a process called gasification. The resulting synthesis gas contains hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is reacted with steam to separate the hydrogen Electrolysis: An electric current splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the electricity is produced by renewable sources, such as solar or wind, the resulting hydrogen will be considered renewable as well, and has numerous emissions benefits. Power-to-hydrogen projects are taking off, where excess renewable electricity, when it's available, is used to make hydrogen through electrolysis Renewable Liquid Reforming: Renewable liquid fuels, such as ethanol, are reacted with high-temperature steam to produce hydrogen near the point of end use Fermentation: Biomass is converted into sugar-rich feedstocks that can be fermented to produce hydrogen A number of hydrogen production methods are in development: High-Temperature Water Splitting: High temperatures generated by solar concentrators or nuclear reactors drive chemical reactions that split water to produce hydrogen Photobiological Water Splitting: Microbes, such as green algae, consume water in the presence of sunlight, producing hydrogen as a byproduct Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting: Photoelectrochemical systems produce hydrogen from water using special semiconductors and energy from sunlight.                                                    South Korea build 3 hydrogen-powered cities in Future                                                     Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How? Hydrogen, The Fuel Of The Future Countries including Germany, Japan and China are also looking to a future hydrogen society, with a number of Asian car manufacturers including Hyundai, Toyota and Honda sinking resources into creating a range of hydrogen-powered cars. Recommended:  Green Sustainable Hydrogen By Hyundai, Toyota And Honda With fuel cell vehicles – or FCVs – generally offering greater range and faster refuelling times than electric vehicles, there is great hope that they will accelerate the transition to cleaner vehicles. But challenges remain with the technology. Although some FCVs are now on the market, for many the cost remains prohibitive and they have some way to go before they become mainstream. The output from hydrogen-powered cars is certainly clean – they only produce water as a by-product – at the moment they are not necessarily as clean as they may first seem. Producing the hydrogen itself from renewable energy sources like wind and solar is still a challenge. Recommended:  Hydrogen Powered Car That Emits Water No CO2: The Rasa Hydrogen, Alternative Energy In The World Moving to clean energy is key to combatting climate change, yet in the past five years, the energy transition has stagnated. Energy consumption and production contribute to two-thirds of global emissions, and 81% of the global energy system is still based on fossil fuels, the same percentage as 30 years ago. Is hydrogen better than fossil fuels? Hydrogen fuel is very efficient. More energy is extracted from this fuel source than with conventional power technologies. Fossil fuels have a high combustion rate and are capable of releasing tremendous amount of energy. Recommended:  Fossil Fuel Will Dominate Energy Use Through 2050: Globally Effective policies, private-sector action and public-private cooperation are needed to create a more inclusive, sustainable, affordable and secure global energy system. Benchmarking progress is essential to a successful transition. The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which ranks 115 economies on how well they balance energy security and access with environmental sustainability and affordability, shows that the biggest challenge facing energy transition is the lack of readiness among the world’s largest emitters, including US, China, India and Russia. Recommended:  Zero Emission Day: No Fossil Fuel Transport Worldwide The 10 countries that score the highest in terms of readiness account for only 2.6% of global annual emissions. To future-proof the global energy system, the Forum’s Shaping the Future of Energy initiative is working with projects including the Partnering for Sustainable Energy Innovation, the Future of Electricity, the Global Battery Alliance and Scaling Renewable Energy to encourage and enable innovative energy investments, technologies and solutions. Hydrogen-Powered Cities: What About Safety? How dangerous is hydrogen? When liquid hydrogen is stored in tanks, it's relatively safe, but if it escapes there are associated hazards. Topping the list of concerns is hydrogen burns. In the presence of an oxidizer - oxygen is a good one - hydrogen can catch fire, sometimes explosively, and it burns more easily than gasoline does. The other major caveat is hydrogen’s explosive nature, which is still causing safety concerns. Earlier this year (2019) an explosion of a hydrogen storage tank at one of South Korea’s government research projects killed two people and injured others. Storage of the gas requires a lot of infrastructure, and despite government incentives to support development, until hydrogen becomes more widespread private investors can still struggle to turn a profit. Recommended:  Hydrogen Energy Storage Revolution In The Netherlands Fortunate a research team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), South Korea, has invented a high-performance and cost-effective hydrogen sensor. Hydrogen gas is widely considered to be one of the most promising next-generation energy resources. It is also an important material for various industrial applications, such as hydrogen-cooled systems, petroleum refinement and metallurgical processes. However, hydrogen, which is highly flammable, is colourless and odourless and thus difficult to detect with human senses. Therefore, developing hydrogen gas sensors with high sensitivity, fast response, high selectivity and good stability is important for the growing hydrogen economy. Hydrogen sensor In the present study, a team of scientists led by Professors Park In-gyu and Jung Yeon-Sik from KAIST successfully fabricated a nanostructured high-performance hydrogen gas sensor. Their sensor achieved dramatically greater hydrogen gas sensitivity compared with a silicon thin film sensor without nanopatterns. The sensor device shows a fast hydrogen response (response time less than five seconds) and ten times higher selectivity for hydrogen gas than other gases. They also demonstrated that the sensor was stable and produced reliable responses in both dry and high-humidity ambient environments. Is hydrogen dangerous to breathe? Inhalation: High concentrations of this gas can cause an oxygen-deficient environment. Individuals breathing such an atmosphere may experience symptoms which include headaches, ringing in ears, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting and depression of all the senses. Hydrogen-Powered Economy South Korea underlines a great determination to shift large swathes of its economy to hydrogen energy by 2040 from power and heat generation to passenger and freight transport. This is bringing huge opportunities for western firms, particularly in the upstream hydrogen technologies Korean companies need to complement their strength in fuel cells. Recommended:  H ydrogen Car Is Extremely Fuel Efficient: 5.000 Km One Liter South Korea Bets Big On Hydrogen: Why? Korea hopes that, by becoming a leader in hydrogen energy, it can improve its terrible air quality, meet its bold emission reduction targets, strengthen its energy security and create the jobs and export industries of the future. There’s now ferocious opposition to coal in Korea due to its effect on air quality, and to nuclear power on account of safety concerns. While more solar and wind power is coming online here, few believe these will ever be adequate, reliable energy sources for the country’s dense population centres or its energy-intensive manufacturing base.  Recommended: Renewables In Danger! Solar And Wind Energy: Start Digging At the same time, Korea is now able to import large quantities of cheap natural gas from the US. As most of the hydrogen used in energy production is ‘still’ reformed from natural gas, a hydrogen economy potentially allows the country to reduce its dependence on oil from the Middle East and geopolitical chokepoints such as the Straits of Hormuz and Straits of Malacca. So, if the country is able to roll out a safe infrastructure and drive the necessary technologies down the cost curve, hydrogen fuel cells hold the promise of reliable, large-scale distributed power on a small footprint. And, if Korea can crack that nut, the global export potential for its fuel cells could be huge. South Korea’s Current Situation On Hydrogen South Korea already has strong incentives that encourage the uptake of fuel cells, such as the Renewable Portfolio Standard, mandatory renewable energy in public buildings and subsidies for fuel cell vehicles. The new hydrogen roadmap builds on these measures.                                          Hydrogen Fuel Cells Overview - 1 (HYDROGEN FUEL CELL DRONE)                                                     Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How? In terms of the primary players, Doosan dominates the stationary fuel cell market here with three technologies. The latest of these - an SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) product. Doosan’s PAFC (phosphoric acid fuel cell) product is the first viable utility-scale fuel cell in the Korean market albeit still supported by state subsidies. Doosan’s PAFC division topped USD $1 billion in 2018, with most coming from the domestic market. The company has now modified its product so it’s able to run directly on hydrogen (rather than natural gas) and recently won a contract for the largest such fuel cell installation in the world. What is a fuel cell? A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts the chemical energy of a fuel (often hydrogen) and an oxidizing agent (often oxygen) into electricity through a pair of redox reactions. Fuel cells can produce electricity continuously for as long as fuel and oxygen are supplied. Doosan employee Ben Yoon with an individual cell stack. Four stacks are combined in a fuel cell unit Doosan also became the first company in the world to commercialise hydrogen-powered drones when it launched its DS30 drone system this month. The drone is able to stay airborne for two hours and is aimed primarily at global infrastructure and logistics markets. Hydrogen Transport: What About Fuel Cell Cars? What are types of fuel cells? Types of Fuel Cells Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells Direct methanol fuel cells Alkaline fuel cells Phosphoric acid fuel cells Molten carbonate fuel cells Solid oxide fuel cells Reversible fuel cells Korea’s Hyundai, meanwhile, leads the global pack in fuel cell cars, alongside Japan’s Toyota.  Recommended:  Hydrogen Transport Wins It From The Electric Battery Car Hyundai wants to drive the uptake of fuel cells on a worldwide scale and recently announced it will sell its PEM (proton-exchange membrane) fuel cell drive system to other OEMs. This month, the company also signed an MOU with American engine manufacturer Cummins, aiming to replace diesel trucks with fuel cell trucks in the US commercial vehicle market. So, Doosan and Hyundai dominate in Korea, but there are plenty of other strong local players here, too.                                            Hyundai Hydrogen Powered Autonomous Self Driving Semi Truck                                                     Building Hydrogen-Powered Cities: Who, Where, How? International entrants are also looking to exploit the market and signing licensing or distribution agreements with well-placed Korean firms. US firm Bloom Energy, for example, signed a distribution agreement with SK D&D this year and, just this month, announced a collaboration with Samsung Heavy Industries to develop fuel cell-powered cargo ships.  Recommended: Solar, Hydrogen And Wind Power Makes The Current Sail Cargo Ship South Korea’s Hydrogen: Emerging Opportunities Hydrogen storage, distribution and production, though currently a developed area, represent significant potential for heavy industrial companies to capture new business opportunities. What they need to do is to move away from the status quo: Steel and petrochemical companies. Upgrade their existing facilities to produce more hydrogen for future use Shipbuilders. New business from liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers and build hydrogen powered vessels to replace diesel vessels in the future Gasoline companies. Leverage the existing storage and distribution network to tap into the hydrogen fuelling station infrastructure development. On balance, there is a strong incentive for these industrial players to participate in the hydrogen infrastructure investments, given the potential to generate sustainable earnings. Hydrogen: The Dawn Of The Shifting Trend That said, there must be systematic research and development, together with a clear governmental policy framework and funding mechanisms to incentivise private companies to participate. State-funded think tank H2Korea was set up to bridge the gap between the government and private sectors on hydrogen technologies. In addition, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has earmarked an investment outlay of USD2.23 billion for a joint venture with private sector companies to speed up the development of the hydrogen infrastructure. Such partnerships between government and business are powerful because they increase the amount of funding and result in better vetting of the projects, thereby yielding greater economic benefits. In view of this, the outlook for Korea’s hydrogen industry and the associated responsible investment opportunities should remain positive. Only asset managers who can understand the implications of this shifting trend and identify emerging leaders within this space can fully tap into the potential of South Korea’s emerging hydrogen industry. Before you go! Recommended:  Hydrogen Is The Fuel Of The Future: Questions & Answers Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about Hydrogen and Architecture? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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