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Korea to build world’s largest hydrogen-powered town

May 28, 2012 - 19:42 By Chung Joo-won
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said Monday that it will launch the “Hydrogen Town Pilot Project” to establish futuristic energy infrastructure that uses waste hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell technologies to meet the nation’s energy consumption needs.

With a budget of 9 billion won ($7.6 million) coming from the government and industries, the project will create the world’s largest hydrogen-powered town in Korea, potentially by late this year when related facilities are completed as scheduled, the ministry said.

More detailed plans, including the location and date of completion, will be finalized after a consortium is formed consisting of selected local government offices and private companies.

According to the ministry, the new hydrogen town will use hydrogen emitted as exhaust during the manufacture of petrochemical products and power plant operations. Such a feature distinguishes itself from hydrogen town projects of other countries that use hydrogen obtained from modified liquefied natural gas.

The recommended price for this hydrogen energy is as low as 100 won per cubic meters, which is only 12 percent of LNG prices, the ministry said.

The total capacity of the new hydrogen town facilities is about 200 kilowatts, generating 1,664 megawatts per hour, equivalent to the amount of energy used by 400 four-member families every year.

The heat energy produced in the hydrogen town is 2,026 gigacalories, an amount that can provide 127,000 four-member families with hot water of 140 degrees Fahrenheit every day.

The amount can replace about 358 tons of oil equivalent from combustible fuels and reduce 1,088 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the ministry said.

“We hope that the hydrogen fuel cell industry becomes a model case of creating new markets as one of our nation’s bread-earning fields in the future,” Vice Knowledge Economy Minister Cho Seok said.

So far the Korean consumption of fuel cells has relied entirely on imported modified LNG, accounting for the high price and unstable supply of the material. By utilizing hydrogen exhausts, the nation will be further strengthened in price-competitiveness and diversified in energy sources.

According to the pilot project, 150 residential buildings, or “green homes,” and 10 commercial and public buildings will have the fuel cell facilities installed as the ministry’s first composite energy subsidiary project.

Entering facility construction and installment process in August, the hydrogen town is scheduled to be activated by the end of the year.

New Renewable Energy Center in Korea Energy Management Corp. will sort the participating private companies through an open consortium beginning from the end of May and start the evaluation process for business proposals in June.

The open evaluation, in-site inspection and conclusion of official memorandum of understanding will take place in July. Facilities including hydrogen tanks and pipelines will be installed in August.

The ministry said that it plans to further push for research and development projects, temporarily labeled as “Hydrogen Fuel Cell Development Plans,” to support the entire spectrum of transition of the country’s energy infrastructure.

By Chung Joo-won (