Energy Initiative Blogs

South Korea's Fuel Cell Race

by User Not Found | Jun 04, 2015

Not enough demand:

In 2003, George W. Bush first proposed an initiative that would reduce the United States' dependance on foreign oil and "be more environmentally friendly." This hydrogen fuel initiative had a support of $1.2 billion and it was the most forward-thinking initiative of its time. This program was aimed to lowering the cost of producing hydrogen enough to make fuel-cell vehicles competitive with gas-powered ones by 2010, but now that it is the year 2015 this idea has not reached the goal it was set out to do.

This could have been made possible by the fact that there are only a handful of hydrogen fuel stations in the U.S (located mostly in California). Also there is no demand for hydrogen cars. Thus the incentive to build the fueling infrastructure for them is incredibly low. Even a Volkswagen executive stated that hydrogen fuel vehicles are "hopeless outside Japan" since there are extensive government subsidies, but in South Korea fuel cells are gaining momentum.

World's largest fuel cell plant:

Since this idea was not exactly flourishing in  the United States, U.S fuel-cell makers have been partnering up with South Korean conglomerates to make the systems more economical since they are mostly being targeted for commercial and industrial use. (We usually associate hydrogen fuel cells with hydrogen-powered cars, but they are also have applications as primary and secondary power supply at industrial sites. Fuel cells can also be utilized to power homes). 


By 2030 Seoul is planning to meet 20% of its energy demands from renewable energy sources (10% from fuel cells) - enough to power 400,000 homes!

Last year the world's largest fuel cell plant was opened in Hwasung City. It consists of 5.1 acres and 21 2.8 megawatt hydogen fuel cells supplied by FuelCell Energy of Danbury, Connecticut.

Not only is South Korea home to the largest fuel cell plant it also holds its own initiatives that are aimed towards energy sustainability. Older deals include LG Corp. taking a 51 percent stake in Rolls Royce Holdings Plc's Fuel Cell Systems.


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