Private-sector venture forms for hydrogen car stations

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Private-sector venture forms for hydrogen car stations

A private-sector venture has been formed to establish and run hydrogen-vehicle charging stations.

Until now, charging stations for hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, or FCEVs, were operated by local governments in Korea. The new venture will be formed by 13 private- and state-owned companies, and will set up 100 fuel charging stations for hydrogen cars by 2022.

The corporation begins operating today under the name HyNet, short for Hydrogen Energy Network. A total of 135 billion won ($119.06 million) were raised by the companies taking part in the government-led project. State-owned Korea Gas and Hyundai Motor are the largest shareholders in the group. HyNet is expected to contribute to the government’s goal of having 310 FCEV charging stations in the country by 2022. As of January, 14 were available nationwide.

FCEV charging stations currently generate very little profit. Installation and operating costs are high, whereas the number of FCEV drivers remains small - a major reason why the stations have been mainly owned and run by local governments.

The venture was suggested by the Energy Ministry last year as a solution to this problem. With multiple companies sharing the costs, the burden and risks will be spread out.

“We expect the establishment of a model for the private sector to install and operate hydrogen car stations will motivate more players to participate in the field,” the ministry said in a statement Sunday.

HyNet is to be run for 10 years. The 13 partnering companies, all with a connection in some way to hydrogen cars, will work together to combine technology and develop infrastructure for the early years of FCEV’s commercialization. The ministry also pledged that it would undertake regulatory reforms to promote FCEV purchases.

The Moon Jae-in administration has stressed its determination to develop a so-called “hydrogen economy,” with the goal of Korea being the No. 1 supplier of FCEVs and batteries by 2030. Plans include a 2.6-trillion-won invested in the sector by 2022.

The government expects 100,000 jobs will be created along the way.

Reforms are gaining momentum as well. Last month, regulations were eased to enable the installation of four hydrogen charging stations in Seoul.

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