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Korean biz leaders join forces for hydrogen leadership

Hyundai Motor chief reaffirms will to reach carbon neutrality by 2045, hints at new hydrogen-powered car launches in US

June 14, 2023 - 15:33 By Kan Hyeong-woo
The participants at the Korea H2 Business Summit, including Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun (seventh from left), SK Group Senir Vice Chairman Chey Jae-won (eighth from left) and Posco Group Chairman Choi Jeong-woo (ninth from left), pose for photographs at the event held at Grand Hyatt Seoul on Wednesday. (Korea H2 Business Summit organizers)

South Korean business leaders on Wednesday reaffirmed their will to lead the global hydrogen economy and accelerate the hydrogen transformation in the country as they announced a set of initiatives to create and bolster the hydrogen ecosystem at the second general assembly of the Korea H2 Business Summit held in Seoul.

The participants from the 17 members of the Korea H2 Business Summit, a corporate-led hydrogen alliance that kicked off in September 2021, underlined the country's transformation into a hydrogen economy as one of the most important solutions to achieving carbon neutrality. Based on this, they laid out the goals of having more than 10 percent of carbon emission reductions through hydrogen in 2030 and bringing the figure to more than 25 percent in 2050.

The 17 members of the Korea H2 Business Summit are Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, Posco Group, Lotte Group, Hanwha Group, GS Group, HD Hyundai, Doosan Group, Hyosung Group, Kolon Group, E1, Korea Zinc, Isu Group, Iljin Group, Samsung C&T, SeAH Group and LG Chem.

Among the attendees at Wednesday’s event were some of the country’s biggest conglomerates’ top officials, including Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, SK Group Senior Vice Chairman Chey Jae-won and Posco Group Chairman Choi Jeong-woo.

“Lately, many countries across the world are targeting carbon neutrality by 2050. The investment plans for hydrogen energy have become active in regard to each country’s energy security. Hyundai Motor Group is supporting the great transformation into a hydrogen society and we are pushing to achieve carbon neutrality in 2045,” said Chung, adding that the automaker plans to unveil a new hydrogen-powered tractor in the US this year and launch a follow-up to its existing hydrogen car model, the Nexo, in 2025.

Other members also shared their achievements and cooperation in terms of hydrogen transformation efforts over the last two years, pledging to work toward creating synergy in the areas of policy, business and investment in the future.

“Beyond forging various business opportunities between members across both the domestic and global hydrogen value chains to help Korea grow into a hydrogen powerhouse, the (Korea H2 Business Summit) will strengthen its function as a global hydrogen cooperation platform that can include the establishment and expansion of hydrogen funds based on the members’ voluntary efforts,” the members said in a statement of the summit's initiatives.

The companies vowed to support the government's drawing up of effective policies and implementing them in a timely manner by actively proposing ideas and offering advice, as they are pushing for hydrogen cooperation and mass-scale investments. They called for the need to establish a bidding market for green hydrogen development; apply an obligatory portion of hydrogen vehicles; expand government subsidies and tax incentives for hydrogen fuel cell systems and hydrogen investment; and designate the hydrogen industry as a national strategic technology.

Alliance members have also opted to operate consultative groups in various areas related to the hydrogen industry that require addressing, such as E-methanol, industrial processes, transportation and the establishment of global standards and certification.

The companies agreed to explore opportunities for securing global technology and strengthening partnerships with overseas hydrogen alliances. In the area of investment cooperation, they plan to ramp up recruitment activities for additional investment from members and financial investors to successfully complete the launch of a hydrogen fund this year. The companies said they will launch different hydrogen funds by value chain and region while promoting investment cooperation with global funds.

Of the members, Hyundai Motor, SK, Posco, Hanwha and Hyosung have announced plans to invest over 40 trillion won ($31.3 billion) in building hydrogen infrastructure by 2030.