Shortage of hydrogen fuel takes its toll on public opinion of H2 vehicles

Shortage of hydrogen fuel takes its toll on public opinion of H2 vehicles

December 1, 2023 6 By Tami Hood

The recent shortages in South Korea have some consumers thinking twice before making a purchase.

A recent rash of hydrogen fuel shortages in South Korea has many people in the country thinking again before buying a zero-emission vehicle powered by H2.

South Korea is one of the countries with the highest adoption levels of these zero-emission vehicles.

The recent hydrogen fuel shortage was the result of a malfunction at Hyundai Steel’s Dangjin factory where H2 is produced for vehicle fueling. The South Chungcheong Province plant experienced an issue with its interior charging station midway through this month. As a result, some areas of the country have faced challenges in meeting the demand for H2. Therefore, H2 fuel cell vehicle owners were stuck in lines for hours to be able to refuel.

This was not the first time drivers in the country found it difficult to refuel their zero carbon emission vehicles. Earlier in November, buses and passenger cars powered by H2 experienced issues with their engines after having fueled up at a Chungju station in North Chungcheong Province. The issue was determined to be impurities within the H2 supply at the station.

In August 2022, a spike in oil prices led to a dive in H2 production, leading to caps on H2 purchases of 1 kilogram per driver per station.

These hydrogen fuel supply problems are causing drivers to become increasingly skeptical.

As the number of issues regarding H2 availability has continued to climb, some drivers are becoming hesitant to switch from their fossil fuel-powered vehicles to ones using H2 instead.

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“The government’s rapidly changing roadmap for the hydrogen economy has caused confusion, delaying the private sector’s investments,” read a recent statement posted at a forum by Kim Jae-kyung, a research fellow from the Korea Energy Economics Institute.

Meeting goals

hydrogen news ebookThe former Moon Jae-in administration initially established the strategy for an H2 economy in the country, with the intention of selling 2.9 million hydrogen fuel vehicles within the country by 2040 and building a minimum of 1,200 fueling stations. Following that plan, there were 893 H2 vehicles sold in 2018, and this year, there had already been 33,796 sold by October.

The current Yoon Suk Yeol administration adjusted the plan, reducing the target to 30,000 H2-powered buses and trucks by 2030 and 70 fueling stations by that year.

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