South Korea’s hydrogen fuel supply crisis will ease next week: ministry
Another 60 refuelling stations have been brought back on line, but many are operating at limited capacity
South Korea last week had three quarters of its refuelling stations off line, with the few sites left open rationing fuel.
But following emergency discussions with hydrogen producers on Friday, the Ministry of Transport, Industry and Energy (Motie) appears confident that the crisis will begin to ease next week, with extra volumes sourced from industry already bringing around 60 refuelling stations back on line.
“We are securing additional supplies,” the ministry’s head of energy policy Lee Ho-hyeon told local reporters.
This included a request that industrial hydrogen producers provide surplus H2 to struggling refuelling stations starting from Saturday — although it is unclear whether this re-direction is mandatory or how it will be compensated.
Hyundai Steel normally supplies 20-30% of the hydrogen used for transport in Korea’s central region. But two of its three H2 production facilities are currently out of action due to a compressor fault, with the limited supply prioritized for hydrogen use within its own business.
According to Hyundai Steel, one of the faulty production lines will be back on line this week, while the other may take another month to repair.
However, the extra volumes from industry appear to already be bearing fruit.
On South Korea’s government-backed Hydrogen Distribution Information System, 101 of 159 refuelling stations are now listed as open for business — up 60 from last week.
However, many are still operating at limited capacity.
Last week, this meant a rationing of H2 among fuel-cell electric vehicle drivers, with waits at operational refuelling stations reaching three to four hours. In some cases, hydrogen-powered cars reportedly ran out of fuel while waiting and had to be towed to the next available filling site.
“Until the situation returns back to normal, we will carry out emergency procedures and make best efforts on the matter,” Lee added.