August 19, 2023 [Business Korea]- Korea’s liquefaction technologies, which hold the key to the international transportation of hydrogen, still has a long way to go, requiring increased investment and government support, a report said.
Korea’s share of global patent applications in the hydrogen storage and transportation sector over the past 10 years (2011-2020) was only 5 percent of the total, according to the report titled “Policy Research to Strengthen Korea’s Hydrogen Industry Competitiveness: Status of Fostering the Hydrogen Storage and Transportation Industry and Tasks” released by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) on Aug. 15.
This is a huge gap compared to the European Union with 33 percent, the United States with 23 percent, and Japan with 22 percent. The report attributes this to the fact that Korea’s investment in the hydrogen industry has been lopsided toward technology investments centered on hydrogen utilization fields.
In addition, only 12 percent (50.7 billion won or US$37.9 million) of the government’s total hydrogen budget of 414.9 billion won for the five-year period from 2016 to 2020 was invested in hydrogen storage and transportation, which made up the smallest proportion among all hydrogen sectors. Even in last year’s budget for Korea’s transition to the hydrogen economy, the budget for hydrogen storage and transportation was still insignificant, accounting for only 4 percent (53.6 billion won) of the total budget.
Hydrogen has low energy density per unit volume, so compression or conversion processes are vital to its storage and transportation. Major countries are working to develop technologies to convert hydrogen into the liquid form to establish a long-distance hydrogen transportation system. In this case, long-distance bulk transportation is expected to expand via maritime transportation. According to global market research firm Statista, the global hydrogen storage market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.4 percent from US$14.7 billion in 2021 to reach approximately US$21.7 billion in 2030 thanks to active investments by major countries.
In particular, the current Korean hydrogen transportation market is limited to domestic distribution due to gas-based transportation. But if liquefaction technology is commercialized in the future, investment in transportation infrastructure linked to hydrogen storage technology, such as liquefied hydrogen import and export terminals, will be activated, and the market size is expected to surge to about US$566 billion in 2050.
Major hydrogen industry powerhouses are actively pursuing hydrogen industry development policies to gain an edge in the hydrogen storage and transportation technology market. Germany is utilizing its superior technology to build domestic and international pipelines and expand the scope of hydrogen transportation through international cooperation. The United States is focusing on developing related technologies and investing in infrastructure to prepare a storage and transportation system to meet hydrogen demand.
In particular, Japan is considered ahead of its competitors in the hydrogen technology commercialization stage, as its multi-year demonstration projects for liquefied and liquid marine transportation have produced substantial results. Currently, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the New Energy Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan are spending about 20 billion yen in support of large-scale hydrogen supply chain projects that focus on developing storage and transportation technologies and infrastructure.
Australia is also focusing on developing export-linked hydrogen storage and transportation technologies and infrastructure to become a hydrogen exporter. It is promoting joint projects with Germany and Japan and other worldwide leaders in hydrogen technology.
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