Tycoons unite for hydrogen future
Hyundai Motor, SK, Posco, 12 others join forces to launch Korea H2 Business Summit
Published : Sep 8, 2021 - 16:52
Updated : Sep 9, 2021 - 11:55
Leaders of major South Korean conglomerates launch the Korea H2 Business Summit at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, on Wednesday. (Korea H2 Business Summit)

Leaders of major South Korean conglomerates including Hyundai Motor and SK officially launched the Korea H2 Business Summit on Wednesday to coordinate their efforts in bringing forth a hydrogen society.

A local equivalent of the global CEO-led initiative Hydrogen Council, the coalition launched with 15 founding members, holding its inaugural meeting at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Posco Group Chairman Choi Jeong-woo were elected as co-chairs. 

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun (left) arrives at Kintex in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. (Kim Byung-wook/The Korea Herald)

“Compared to Europe and Japan, South Korea is behind in the balanced growth of the hydrogen ecosystem. I hope the Korea H2 Business Summit becomes a platform that combines the strengths of each of the members and contributes to the development of the hydrogen economy,” Hyundai Motor Group chief said during the meeting.

SK Group Chairman Chey called for action, suggesting that a “hydrogen fund” must be created as part of the council’s first move.

“Vitalizing a hydrogen economy requires massive investments, which is why I suggest creating a hydrogen fund. If there are promising hydrogen companies, council members can offer business opportunities while financial firms can provide them with necessary funds,” Chey said.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won (center) (Kim Byung-wook/The Korea Herald)

Aside from Hyundai Motor, SK and Posco, the event drew chiefs of other major conglomerates with ambitions to lead the hydrogen future in their respective fields. They include Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, Hanwha Solutions President Kim Dong-kwan, GS Caltex President Hur Sae-hong, Hyundai Heavy Industries Vice President Chung Ki-sun, Doosan Group Chairman Park Jeong-won, Hyosung Group Vice Chairman Cho Hyun-sang and Kolon Global Vice President Lee Kyu-ho, among others.

After their meeting, the leaders took a tour of the H2 Mobility+Energy Show, a hydrogen expo held at the same venue. The business summit’s launch ceremony was held on the sidelines of the fair.

Occupying a prominent space at the convention center, SK Group’s green energy arm SK E&S presented to touring business leaders how it aims to produce 250,000 metric tons of blue hydrogen with carbon neutral liquefied natural gas, starting from 2025.

Utilizing its petrochemicals plants and vast network of gas stations, SK Group plans to invest 18.5 trillion won ($15.8 billion) in the next five years and rise as the world’s leading hydrogen player.

Automaker Hyundai Motor also showcased its cutting-edge hydrogen technologies to the tycoons and other spectators, which it unveiled at the firm’s first global hydrogen event held online a day prior.

On display were autonomous trailer drone e-Bogie, a portable hydrogen charging truck, concept hydrogen sports car Vision FK and a prototype of a third-generation fuel cell.

Hyundai Motor aims to manufacture 500,000 hydrogen vehicles and 700,000 units of the hydrogen fuel cell system every year starting from 2030. To this end, the carmaker plans to pour 11.1 trillion won into hydrogen charging stations and research and development.

Posco Group Chairman Choi Jeong-woo pledged to commercialize a hydrogen-based steelmaking technology, as the steel giant is one of the greatest emitters of carbon in the country.

At the booth, Posco officials explained that the firm would develop the hydrogen-based steelmaking technology and complete a pilot test within 10 to 20 years. The firm’s ultimate goal is to gradually transition its facilities and commercialize the technology by 2050.

During the event, other conglomerates also introduced their latest efforts to take initiative in the burgeoning hydrogen market.

Lotte Group aims to invest 4.4 trillion won by 2030 to produce 600,000 tons of clean hydrogen and generate sales worth 3 trillion won in the hydrogen business.
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin (left) (Kim Byung-wook/The Korea Herald)

Lotte Chemical, the group’s chemicals unit, recently established a pilot production facility of hydrogen tanks, a key component of hydrogen vehicles.

Hanwha Group, based on its strength in solar technology, aims to invest 1.3 trillion won for green hydrogen. Hanwha Solutions is developing ways to generate hydrogen without any carbon emissions using clean electricity generated by renewables, while Hanwha Impact is conducting a feasibility test to burn liquefied natural gas together with hydrogen when generating electricity to cut emissions.

Hyosung Group is currently building a 1.2 trillion-won liquefied hydrogen plant in Ulsan with Germany’s Linde Group. Once completed in 2023, the world’s largest liquefied hydrogen plant will have an annual production capacity of 13,000 tons.

The five conglomerates -- Hyundai Motor, SK, Posco, Hanwha and Hyosung – will make combined investments of roughly 43 trillion won into the hydrogen economy by 2030.

By Kim Byung-wook ( & Kang Jae-eun (