The SK Group, South Korea’s third-largest conglomerate, has agreed to invest $1.5bn in US-based hydrogen fuel cell solutions provider Plug Power. The two companies plan to form a joint venture that will develop hydrogen fuel cell products for several Asian markets, including China and Vietnam. Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will set up a joint venture and task the new entity’s management team with accelerating the growth of Asia’s hydrogen economy, initially by manufacturing and developing hydrogen fuel cell systems, hydrogen fuelling stations, and electrolysers for Korea and other countries in the region.
The group had already stated its intentions to slash its carbon emissions by two-thirds over ten years and to focus on hydrogen as one of its new growth drivers. This resolve will only have been strengthened this week by the news that Elon Musk had overtaken Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest man, principally on the back of Tesla’s dominance of the booming EV market. This changing of the guard is a potent symbol of the trend towards emission-free transport and it is one in which hydrogen is destined to play a key role. According to Allied Market Research, the value of the global hydrogen fuel cell vehicle market will have increased from $652m in 2018 to $42bn by 2026, a CAGR of nearly 67%.
This phenomenal rate of growth is mainly being driven by rising environmental concerns, and the SK Group itself is aiming to slash its carbon emissions by two-thirds over the next ten years; but its plans to produce 30,000 tonnes of hydrogen in 2023, and as much as 280,000 tonnes by 2025.will also have been influenced by the South Korean government’s ambition to position the country as a global leader in H2‘s development as an alternative energy source.