The plan has been under discussion for more than a decade. However, it was sidelined all the time, because of the policy inconsistencies through the different administrations. Additionally, the global battery trend influenced the development of the plan.
Currently, the situation has changed and the interest in hydrogen has increased. The government believes that hydrogen and electric vehicles are not rivaling, but complementing each other.
This June, the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Energy announced a 2.6 trillion plan to supply 16,000 hydrogen vehicles and build 310 hydrogen refilling stations across the country. Additionally, the support for the development of fuel cell stacks and fuel cell storage containers will be provided to businesses and tax deferrals will be provided to drivers.
In April, the ministry signed a memorandum to establish a special purpose company to build hydrogen fueling stations in major cities and on highways.
There are only 170 hydrogen vehicles registered in South Korea at the moment, but, with the help of these policies, the number is expected to reach 15,000 by 2022. For electric vehicles, the growth from 25,500 to 350,000 vehicles is expected over the same period.
“The technology of electric vehicles has become widely available now, but that of hydrogen cars are still in an infant stage and there should be more basic infrastructure like refilling stations (to buttress its growth),” Park Jong-won, of the automobiles and aviation department of the Ministry of Industry, said.
Currently, South Korea is one of the leading countries in implementing hydrogen technology. The country had set a plan in 2005 aimed at increasing the portion of hydrogen-based energy to 15 percent.
However, experts noted a few problems. First of all, where will the hydrogen come from? Then, the absence of hydrogen-related laws, safety concerns and lack of public awareness add to uncertainty over whether the hydrogen business can turn profitable.