Republic of Korea (South Korea)

Country: Republic of Korea (South Korea)

Document type: National Roadmap

Title: Hydrogen Economy Roadmap of Korea

Released: January 2019

Summary Points:

  • The roadmap includes the following goals or ambitions:

Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV Sector – use of hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2040

    • Supply of 6.2 million hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, of which 3.3 million is exported / 2.9 million domestic demand
    • 2.75 million passenger cars – domestic demand
    • 80,000 taxis – domestic demand
    • 40,000 buses -domestic demand
    • 30,000 trucks – domestic demand
    • 1,200 hydrogen fuelling stations (by 2040)

Fuel Cell Sector

    • Manufacture of hydrogen fuel cells for power generation to reach a combined capacity of 15 GW by 2040 (of which 7 GW is exported).
    • Combined ~2 GW of fuel cell capacity for homes and buildings.
  • The roadmap foresees / targets hydrogen supply/demand in 2030 at around 1.9 million tons per annum and at over 5 million tons in 2040 (vs 130,000 tons in 2018) though it is difficult to specify the role of clean hydrogen (domestically produced and imported) in meeting industry supply / demand projections.
  • Actions to support the roadmap include:
    • At the beginning of 2020, the National Assembly passed the Hydrogen Economy Promotion and Hydrogen Safety Management Law. This provides the overarching legal framework for the government’s efforts in hydrogen development. It also established the “Hydrogen Economy Committee,” chaired by the Prime Minister, which will oversee issues related to industry promotion, distribution, and safety.
    • The Korean New Deal (Green New Deal plank) presented in July 2020 extended support for hydrogen vehicles, amongst other things.
    • In late 2019, the government announced a ‘hydrogen cities’ initiative to select three cities to become hydrogen-powered cities to promote the use of hydrogen.

In July 2022, media reports moted that the Korea H2 Business Summit, a body composed mainly of major Korean companies such as Hyundai Motor, SK and POSCO, had established a fund worth 500 billion won (US$383 million) to promote development of the hydrogen industry. The fund would include contributions from domestic member companies and foreign investors and is expected to have a ten-year life.  The aim of the fund is to establish domestic and overseas hydrogen production, distribution and storage infrastructure and support technology development.

In November 2022, media reporting noted that the government had announced new policies and goals to support development of the hydrogen industry. Measures reported include:

  • Securing advanced technologies to nurture 600 hydrogen focussed companies by 2030.
  • Production of 30,000 hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles by 2030.
  • Building of 70 liquid hydrogen fuelling stations by 2030.
  • Clean hydrogen accounts for 7.1% of the nation’s energy mix by 2036.
  • Plans to establish a liquefied hydrogen plant capable of producing 40,000 tonnes per annum.
  • Plans for logistics hubs for liquid ammonia to be established in the western part of the country (including Boryeong and Dangjin in South Chungcheong Province); in the southern part (including Yeosu in South Jeolla Province and Hadong in South Gyeongsang Province); and in the eastern part (including Gangneung and Samcheok in Gangwon Province).
  • Plans for hydrogen-oriented pipelines to be established in routes linking Incheon, Bucheon, Anyang, Pangyo, Bundang, Gwanggyo, Suwon, Hwaseong, Osan, Dongtan, Pyeongtaek and Dangjin.
  • Plans to establish supply channels in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, in collaboration with public companies and the private sector, to access overseas hydrogen production.

In November 2022, media reporting noted that the government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with four local companies to create a nationwide liquid hydrogen supply chain and expand the use of hydrogen vehicles, starting in 2023.  The media reporting noted that Korea’s hydrogen supply chain has largely been using hydrogen in gas form, but the focus is to be shifted to liquid hydrogen.

In January 2023, media reports indicated the South Korean Government had announced 240 billion won (US$193 million) in funding to support six “hydrogen cities” across the country – at Pyeongtaek, Namyangju, Dangjin, Boryeong, Gwangyang and Pohang. It is reported that public funding would be sourced from national funds as well as from local government. The announcement follows the implementation of three ongoing smaller “hydrogen city” pilot projects in the cities of Ulsan, Ansan and Jeonji.

In January 2023, press reports indicated the South Korean government plans to import hydrogen produced in Malaysia and the UAE by 2027 and beyond for the purpose of power generation and export after conversion into ammonia. In Malaysia, the hydrogen would be hydroelectric power generation-based; in the UAE, the hydrogen would be produced using solar power. Imports are estimated at 600,000 and 200,000 tons a year, respectively.

In May 2023, media reports noted that South Korea signed a ‘business agreement’ with 14 companies and 12 local governments to install 2,000 hydrogen-powered buses on the roads by 2026. Reports noted that under the agreement, the Government would provide policy and financial assistance for the purchase of the buses and expansion of the hydrogen refuelling network.

In June 2023, media reports indicated that the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) had published a tender notice for hydrogen power, with the government setting up a bidding market where power producers can sell electricity generated with hydrogen or hydrogen compounds such as ammonia to the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) or other regional operators. The hydrogen power generation tender is to be divided into two ‘markets’ – general hydrogen and clean hydrogen. In August 2023, media reports indicated that the Korea Power Exchange determined five power plants as the winning bidders for the first general hydrogen tender, which would be required to start commercial operation within two years from the date of contract signing.  In May 2024, MOTIE announced the launch of its first clean hydrogen power bidding market: participants are allowed to harness power generators using only hydrogen that meets the domestic clean hydrogen certification standards (GHG of 4CO2e or less per 1kg of hydrogen) with the 2024 annual bidding volume at 6,500 GWh with a contract period of 15 years. Commercial operation is to begin by 2028.

In November 2023, MOTIE announced that the proposal for an amendment to the Hydrogen Economy Promotion and Hydrogen Safety Management Act (“Hydrogen Act”) had passed the Cabinet deliberation and resolution process. The Cabinet approval of the Hydrogen Act amendment proposal follows the pre-announcement of the Hydrogen Act legislation (May 2-June 12), regulation review (May 2-August 25) and a review by the Ministry of Government Legislation (June 22-November 7).


Updated: May 2024