The "hydrogen economy" has been something of a buzzword in recent weeks, as a number of countries have been scaling up their investment in hydrogen-fuelled industries, from fuel cell batteries to whole cities that mostly run on hydrogen power.
South Korea is one of these countries, aiming to foster some one-thousand companies specializing in hydrogen by 2040. The government will also seek to boost the number of hydrogen cars to 850,000 and hydrogen chargers to 660 units within the next 10 years.
But is hydrogen power the way forward and can it really charge up new engines of economic growth around the world?
To discuss this we have joining us Peter Cleary, Chair of the Australia-Korea Business Council Energy Sub-Committee in Melbourne. How are you?
We also connect with Dr. JR Reagan, CEO of IdeaXplorer Global, joining us from Daejeon. Good morning.
Mr. Cleary: Skeptics say there's hype over the prospect of a hydrogen economy and fuel cells once every ten years or so, but these waves of interest haven't produced anything tangible. Do you think it will be different this time round?
Dr. Reagan: Why are countries drawing up national hydrogen strategies, especially as part of efforts to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19? Why is it particularly important for South Korea?
Mr. Cleary: We use electricity to produce hydrogen. Doesn’t that meant the cost of hydrogen per kWhr is to be more expensive than electricity?Neither renewable hydrogen nor low-carbon hydrogen, notably fossil-based hydrogen with carbon capture, are cost-competitive against fossil-based hydrogen. How can we reduce the gap?
Dr. Reagan: We've seen the alternative-fuel trucking startup Nikola do really well this year, with itts market value has rocketing from less than $1 billion at the start of the year to more than $14 billion.Nikola plans to power its heavy-duty trucks with hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Are you optimistic about this?
Will there be a successful hydrogen takeover though, when Li-ion batteries are dominating the market? Can hydrogen ever become a strong alternative, or even competitive?
Mr. Cleary, Dr. Reagan: With a growing number of countries angling for market leadership, what do you think will be the decisive factor in gaining a competitive edge? And in which areas will South Korea do well in?
Mr. Reagan, Mr Cleary: What kind of sticking points need to be resolved before a hydrogen economy really takes off? Recycling on fuel cell battery, etc.
Mr. Cleary: Australia was one of the first countries in the world to move towards a massive hydrogen-fuelled economy. How have you been building up an ecosystem?
We'll have to wrap up the discussion here but it was great to hear your insights on this Peter Cleary, Chair of the Australia-Korea Business Council Energy Sub-Committee and JR Reagan, CEO of IdeaXplorer Global. Thank you for joining the programme