The state-run gas distributor, known as Kogas, expects to begin green hydrogen imports from 2027, and intends to invest in production of the zero-emissions fuel in places including Australia and the Middle East, just as it currently does with LNG.
While the gas is billed as potentially key to curbing emissions from carbon-heavy industrial processes like steelmaking, the market is still in its infancy. There’s also been debate over plans from existing energy suppliers to use fossil fuels and carbon capture to produce hydrogen, rather than processes that require only renewable electricity and water.
By 2026, Kogas plans to complete demonstration projects to blend 20% of hydrogen into the existing gas pipeline across South Korea and would aim to keep increasing the proportion, Lee said on the sidelines of the 2022 World Gas Conference in Daegu.
The proposal would require more than 1 million tons of hydrogen and reduce South Korea’s greenhouse gas emissions by 7.5 million tons, Kogas said in a statement this week. South Korea’s national emissions were 727.6 million tons in 2018, according to a government filing.
Though Kogas is planning for some production of green hydrogen — made using zero-emissions electricity — domestically, the nation is constrained by a lack of available land for solar and wind projects.
The importer is in discussions with local shipbuilders to develop liquid hydrogen vessels and also working on technologies for storage tanks, according to Lee.
“South Korea and Japan are likely to heavily depend on hydrogen imports,” he said. “That’s why it’s critical for us to step up our game to be a leader in the industry.”