The Korea Herald


S. Korea to burn hydrogen, ammonia at thermal power plants

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Nov. 16, 2021 - 18:03

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(Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy) (Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy)
The South Korean government announced Tuesday it will develop hydrogen and ammonia as feedstock for thermal power generation in order to gradually phase out the use of fossil fuels.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the government has launched a public-private council to lead the research, with an aim of introducing hydrogen and ammonia in the fuel mix as early as 2030.

The ministry’s plan envisions more than half of South Korea’s coal-fired thermal power plants, or at least 24, using a fuel mix consisting of 20 percent ammonia as early as 2030.

By 2035, local gas-fired thermal power plants will use a mix of liquefied natural gas and 30 percent hydrogen. In the following years, the government will increase the hydrogen proportion beyond 30 percent, it said.

To achieve the goal, the ministry will launch research projects to secure necessary technologies, including one for the development of new turbines for hydrogen and ammonia fuel mix.

“Introduction of hydrogen and ammonia at local thermal power plants will reduce stranded assets of those power plants and provide them with flexibility to cope with the variability and uncertainty that renewable energy transition will deliver,” said Kang Kyung-sung, director of the material component industry division of the ministry.

The ministry will establish the ammonia supply chain, spanning from its procurement to delivery to the power plants. It plans to first build facilities that can store ammonia during the next year.

The ministry noted the use of hydrogen and ammonia at thermal power plants has been increasingly tested in other countries.

In the US, GE is currently helping an Ohio-based 485-megawatt power facility to burn hydrogen. The facility is expected to burn around 15-20 percent hydrogen by volume in the gas stream in the early stage and increase the proportion up to 100 percent in the future.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan too has built a pilot plant that has a 1MW gas turbine fueled by both hydrogen and natural gas.

The ministry’s latest announcement is part of South Korea‘s goal of going carbon neutral by 2050, which also states the government aims to increase the proportion of hydrogen and ammonia power generation to 13.8-21.5 percent.