WPIC highlights South Korean hydrogen market as driver for platinum demand

2nd February 2024 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

WPIC highlights South Korean hydrogen market as driver for platinum demand

The World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC) is encouraged by the South Korean government’s move to accelerate the country’s transition to a clean hydrogen economy and its advancement of the hydrogen industry.

South Korea held its sixth Hydrogen Economy Committee meeting at the end of last year, which saw a range of policy agendas being discussed, including implementation of a clean hydrogen certification system.

The South Korean government also discussed with stakeholders measures to increase the distribution of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). The country aims to deploy 300 000 hydrogen FCEVs, including 21 200 buses, and more than 660 hydrogen filling stations by 2030.

The WPIC expects South Korea will expand tax support for clean hydrogen production technologies.

“South Korea’s strategy for decarbonising its highly industrialised economy also relies heavily on using green hydrogen. This, together with its FCEV deployment plans, could result in it becoming a significant hub for platinum demand, particularly if its domestic policies also support exports,” the WPIC states.

Platinum is used in proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers to produce green hydrogen and in PEM fuel cells that power FCEVs.

More than $40-billion of investment is earmarked through public-private partnerships to harness and roll out hydrogen technologies across the entire value chain in South Korea. For example, the government has plans to create six prototype hydrogen cities.

Major businesses are also driving momentum. Hyundai has invested $1.1-billion in building two new fuel cell plants in Incheon, near Seoul, which will have a production capacity of 100 000 fuel cells a year.

Meanwhile, Dooson Fuel Cell is collaborating with HyAxiom and Ballard Power Systems to develop PEM fuel cell mobility applications, including the supply of fuel cell electric buses and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to the South Korean market.

SK Plug Hyverse, a joint venture between US PEM electrolyser and fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power and South Korean energy company SK E&S, is set to establish a gigafactory in Korea for the large-scale production of PEM electrolysers.

It is also actively involved in expanding South Korea’s domestic green hydrogen sector through the use of PEM electrolysis technology and has participated in two ongoing electrolysis demonstration projects on Jeju Island.

Air Liquide Korea has joined forces with Lotte to develop a new generation of large-scale hydrogen filling centres in South Korea.

The first two units are strategically located in the industrial regions of Daesan and Ulsan to serve the densely populated regions of Seoul metropolitan area and Gyeonggi province in the northwest, and Ulsan/Daegu/Busan metropolitan areas and Gyeongsang provinces in the southeast.

While demand for platinum in catalytic converters will reduce as internal combustion engines are fazed out, the future looks bright for platinum demand in the hydrogen market, says the WPIC.