Green Day 42: Hydrogen Technology Moving Forward 

The author is an analyst of NH Investment & Securities. He can be reached at ys.jung@nhqv.com — Ed.

Large-scale liquefied hydrogen transportation and SOEC demonstration projects are showing success. Technical barriers towards building a hydrogen ecosystem are being eliminated one by one. And with China having formalized the development of its hydrogen industry, mid/long-term hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure construction is expected to begin in earnest.

Liquefied hydrogen transport project successfully demonstrated

A Japanese liquefied hydrogen carrier, the Suiso Frontier, has succeeded in transporting liquefied hydrogen produced in Australia to Kobe Port, Japan. Hydrogen produced under the joint Japan-Australia Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) is being liquefied and transported to Japan. By 2030, the project aims to produce blue hydrogen, using its carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

Although there were technical limitations in the process of mass transportation of liquefied hydrogen by ship, the project has proved that liquefied hydrogen can be transported by ship.

The liquefied hydrogen carrier built by Japan’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries can carry 75 tons (1,250 m³) of liquefied hydrogen. Insulation performance has been secured via glass fiber reinforced plastic and a double vacuum method. In Korea, Korea Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering is developing a large liquefied hydrogen carrier. As it is possible to transport liquefied hydrogen in large quantities, the development of related infrastructure is also expected to accelerate. Linde is a major global liquefied hydrogen infrastructure operator.

Water electrolysis through SOEC also successfully demonstrated

Bloom SK Fuel Cell has succeeded in producing hydrogen through 130kW class solid oxide water electrolysis (SOEC). Unlike general water electrolysis technology, SOEC technology is a method of producing hydrogen from steam at a high temperature of 700 degrees Celsius or more. Although the technical barriers are high, it is noteworthy that water electrolysis costs can be lowered by using less power by about 15% compared to the existing alkaline (AEL) and polyelectrolyte (PEMEC) methods.

Currently, global SOEC water electrolysis technology players are Bloom Energy of the US and Solid Power of Italy. Bloom Energy and SK Eco Plant are in the stage of materializing their business through cooperation, and SK Eco Plant announced in Oct 2021 to invest W300bn towards developing SOEC & solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technologies and building new production plants, alongside Bloom Energy.

Another technical barrier related to the establishment of a hydrogen ecosystem has been resolved as electrolytic hydrogen production costs are lowering, and as high-volume transport of liquefied hydrogen is now possible. Meanwhile, China, a massive market, has formalized the development of its hydrogen industry and has started actively building related infrastructure. Against this backdrop, infrastructure construction is anticipated to begin in earnest for global hydrogen production and distribution.



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