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South Korea makes new push for hydrogen fuelling with $2.3bn investment

Government and private sector announce billion-dollar plan to build hydrogen stations and increase vehicle production to reach 16,000 unites by 2022.

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South Korea’s government and businesses will invest 2.6 trillion won (USD2.33 billion) over the next five years in a public-private partnership to boost the development of the country’s hydrogen fuelling ecosystem, announced the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).

The public-private plan will increase the number of hydrogen production plants, put more vehicles on the road and stablish package-type hydrogen filling stations to supply 16,000 hydrogen vehicles by 2022.

According to the MOTIE the goal is to have 310 hydrogen stations by 2022. The funds will also be spent on building plants for fuel cell vehicles and fuel cell stacks, manufacturing fuel cell buses and developing hydrogen storage systems.

One key market segments identified by the players involved is the production of hydrogen buses. The government plans to implement a hydrogen bus subsidy program and reduce the hydrogen bus acquisition tax for transportation companies in 2019.

"To achieve the goal of supplying 16,000 hydrogen cars, the government needs a total budget of 450 billion won by 2022,” said Minister Baek Woon-kyu.

For consumers to dive into fuel-cell vehicles there first needs to be a strong network of stations to fuel-up their hydrogen vehicles, reason why one of the first actions of the new plan will be to invest 150 billion won (USD135 million) in site construction. The government wants to develop a program in 2018 to reduce the cost of filling station construction by 30%.

Car manufacturers and analysts remain weary of South Korea’s plans as the government has showed inconsistency in its position towards hydrogen fuelling in the past, switching stances and delaying proposed targets, reports Business Korea.

South Korea has a population of just over 51 million with a car ownership of 338 per 1000 inhabitants – significantly lower to that of the U.S. (910), according to Statista.

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