Fellow Koreans, distinguished citizens of Ulsan,
“A city where the lights never go out 365 days a year” and “the industrial capital of Korea”: these nicknames have been given to Ulsan Metropolitan City.
The Republic of Korea’s history of industrialization began with the first shovel breaking ground for the Ulsan-Mipo National Industrial Complex in 1962. With automobile factories, shipyards and petrochemical plants running nonstop 24/7 in Ulsan, our economy made still more vigorous strides.
All Koreans have high expectations for Ulsan, which has spearheaded Korea’s economic growth.
It is very meaningful for me to start off the first nationwide economic tour of 2019 in Ulsan.
Today, I want to speak with you about the hydrogen economy bringing a new challenge that the Republic of Korea will take on and new promise for Ulsan’s economy.
The hydrogen economy marks a revolutionary change in the industrial framework – one that will replace coal and oil with hydrogen as a source of energy. Across all sectors – from hydrogen’s production, storage and transport to its utilization – new industries and jobs will be created.
For our part, it will also be a golden opportunity to fundamentally transform the national energy system and secure new growth engines.
Now, while the hydrogen economy is in its infancy, it is important to preempt global markets. Many countries are already in competition, jockeying for a leading position.
Fortunately, our strength and potential are boundless. We can become a pacesetter in the hydrogen economy by linking it up with our traditional flagship industries such as automobile, shipbuilding and petrochemical. Possessing such a vision and self confidence, we have prepared this event today.
We are already equipped with world-class technology for utilizing hydrogen. We were the first country to succeed in mass-producing hydrogen-fueled cars, and 99 percent of its core components are supplied domestically. It can run 600 km on a single charge, currently the farthest distance in the world. Now when the hydrogen economy is about to take off worldwide, the hydrogen cars manufactured in Korea have a global market share reaching 50 percent. Korea is also staying at the forefront in the field of fuel cells, another pillar of the hydrogen economy.
Our large-scale petrochemical plants in Ulsan and other cities already have capabilities to produce enough hydrogen as a byproduct to expand the use of hydrogen vehicles.
Our nationwide web of natural gas pipelines, totaling approximately 5,000 km, is another strength. This supply chain can be utilized to extract hydrogen economically and supply it to a variety of regions.
The hydrogen economy roadmap is a blueprint for making the leap to a global pace-setting country based on our strengths. Korea aims to hold the largest global market shares for both hydrogen-powered vehicles and fuel cells by 2030. Ulsan lies at the center of it all.
The industry is still in its infancy. As of the end of 2018, we had produced 1,824 hydrogen cars, with more than half (935 vehicles) being exported. We will increase that number to 4,000 this year, 81,000 by 2022, 1.8 million by 2030, swiftly raising it to millions thereafter.
In the case of hydrogen-powered passenger cars, they are currently available at midsize car prices – thanks to a subsidy of about 35 million won. Mass production will lower production costs and increase exports.
The cumulative economic effect of the hydrogen economy to date stands at 1 trillion won, which is expected to grow to 16 trillion won by 2022 and to 25 trillion won by 2030. The number of people employed in this sector is projected to increase from the current level of about 10,000 to 100,000 by 2022 and 200,000 by 2030.
The hydrogen economy will become a new source of growth not just for every car manufacturer but for R&D personnel and relevant businesses. About 300 domestic parts makers are already involved in development and production, and numerous small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and leading mid-market companies are participating in the production, storage and transport of hydrogen.
In the carbon economy age, Korea had to import all of its oil and natural gas. This frequently posed difficulties as global price fluctuations impacted our country significantly.
The hydrogen economy era is different. Available anywhere, hydrogen is an inexhaustible resource. As of now, it is commonly extracted from fossil fuels, but it will become commonplace to produce it while utilizing renewable solar, wind and bio energies.
Currently, Korea is an energy-poor country that relies on imports for 95 percent of its energy needs. If the country is able to be relatively energy self-sufficient through the hydrogen economy, it will be possible to steer our economic growth more stably and safeguard our energy security more steadfastly.
Many believe hydrogen is dangerous – thinking of a hydrogen bomb –
but that is a fallacy.
When I visited France for a state visit last October, I learned that 61 hydrogen-powered Nexos, imported from Korea, were operating in Paris as taxis and that there was a hydrogen fuel station in the city center. Parisians consider these vehicles and the refueling facility to be so safe that they refuel their cars themselves. Cheong Wa Dae has purchased and is using hydrogen-powered vehicles for official use.
Whereas carbon-based energy results in greenhouse gas and fine dust emissions, hydrogen is a clean energy source; water is its only byproduct. Of particular note: hydrogen-powered cars actually have the effect of purifying air by filtering fine dust while running.
When hydrogen-powered cars are as widely distributed by 2030 as the Government plans, an estimated 30,000 tons of fine dust, or 10 percent of the amount currently produced, will be removed.
The Korean Government is strongly determined to promote the hydrogen economy.
On the supply side, related laws will be modified to form an industrial ecosystem while assistance will be provided to help localize and commercialize core and original technologies. Hydrogen production, storage and transport methods will be diversified, and related costs will be lowered.
On the demand side, the Government will prime the pump to create a bigger market.
Subsidies now provided only for hydrogen-powered cars and buses will be applied to taxis and trucks as well. Most of all, the Government will work together with local governments in a bid to increase the number of hydrogen-powered buses – which are highly effective in reducing fine dust – to 2,000 by 2022 and to replace 820 police buses with hydrogen-powered buses beginning in 2021.
Regulations governing hydrogen fuel stations will be streamlined, and support for setting up stations will be strengthened. The first regulatory sandbox will be for constructing hydrogen fuel stations in city centers. The number of hydrogen fuel stations will be increased to 86 by the end of this year and to 310 by 2022, making the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles more convenient.
New industries will be expanded and the size of related markets will be enlarged by expanding the distribution of fuel cells for power generation and the adoption of fuel cells by public institutions.
Fellow Koreans and Ulsan citizens,
The hydrogen economy, which will quickly spread in the months to come, provides opportunities right here in Ulsan.
As a petrochemical industry center, Ulsan has 140 million barrels of liquid cargo storage and 120,000 cubic meters of compressed gas storage facilities, making it well suited for the production and storage of hydrogen. The world’s first hydrogen-powered commercial vehicle factory operates here, and Ulsan’s hydrogen-powered car use per person is the highest in the country as well.
In addition to these solid foundations for the hydrogen economy, over one thousand energy companies and related businesses are located here, and highly competent academic and R&D centers have already been established.
Ulsan has what it takes to become one of the world’s leading cities driven by the hydrogen economy. If Ulsan succeeds, so does the Republic of Korea. I hope that Ulsan, the industrial capital that has success in its DNA, will once more reopen an economic growth plate.
Our people have proven especially strong when facing a crisis. We achieved industrialization on the ruins of war and turned the oil crises into an opportunity to earn dollars from oil-producing countries. We overcame the foreign exchange crisis by developing information and communication technology and the global financial crisis by expanding the key exporting industries.
The hydrogen economy will open up opportunities for us yet again.