President Moon unveils new energy roadmap for 'hydrogen economy'

18, Jan. 2019

SEOUL, AJU - With active support from President Moon Jae-in, South Korea unveiled a fresh roadmap to secure its firm leadership in the global market for hydrogen fuels cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) by producing 6.2 million units for domestic consumption and exports by 2040.

"Now that the hydrogen economy has begun to emerge, it is important to take the lead in the global market," Moon declared in a speech at a business meeting Thursday in the southeastern industrial city of Ulsan, home to South Korea's Hyundai auto group. "The hydrogen economy roadmap is a blueprint for leaping to become a world leader."

Because of its eco-friendly characteristics, fuel cells are considered the next-generation renewable power source. Fuel cells produce heat, electricity and water through a thermochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. Hyundai has touted hydrogen fuel as an alternative to solve global problems such as pollution and resource depletion.

Responding to Hyundai's cry for support, Moon envisaged a "hydrogen economy" to use fuel cells in the production of automobiles and electricity. "In 2030, our goal is to be the world's largest market share in both hydrogen cars and fuel cells," he said, adding South Korea should increase the production of FCEVs to 1.8 million units by 2030.

"Fortunately, our strengths and possibilities are endless, and we can lead the hydrogen economy by linking with the mainstream industries such as automobiles, shipbuilding and petrochemicals," he said. The roadmap called for the production of 81,000 FCEVs in 2022, 1.8 million in 2030 and 6.2 million in 2040.

"Our government's commitment to the hydrogen economy is firm. For us, it is a great opportunity to fundamentally change the national energy system and prepare a new growth engine," Moon said.

"The hydrogen economy is a revolutionary change in the industrial structure that converts energy sources from coal and oil to hydrogen," the president said, adding hydrogen would provide "a perfect opportunity to fundamentally change our national energy system and create a new growth engine."

Hyundai has earmarked 7.6 trillion won ($6.7 billion) for the expansion of facilities and research to produce 11,000 FCEVs in 2020 and 500,000 in 2030. Last month, the company broke ground for the second fuel cell plant in Chungju, 115 kilometers (71 miles) south of Seoul. Construction will be complected by the end of 2019. Hyundai would diversify its lineup to provide fuel cells for ships, trains, construction equipment and power generation.