S Korea partners US in battery, H2, ammonia industries

South Korea and the US have agreed on deals across various sectors, such as hydrogen, ammonia and batteries, with six US firms planning to jointly invest $1.9bn in South Korean production facilities.

The joint investment is a marked increase from the $1.15bn previously planned in September 2022, according to South Korea’s Trade and industry ministry (Motie).

US chemical firm Air Products will invest in a green ammonia and green hydrogen terminal, including production facilities such as crackers. Air Products also separately signed an agreement with South Korea’s Gyeonggi province to invest in industrial gas production facilities.

US hydrogen firm Plug Power is considering a research and development centre for hydrogen technology. Motie expects fuel cells to contribute to the domestic commercialisation of clean hydrogen, as well as the expansion of supply chains and hydrogen mobility.

US supplier ON Semiconductor is planning silicon carbide semiconductor facilities, while US manufacturer Greene Tweed will build special O-ring production facilities for semiconductor equipment.

US-based chemical recycler PureCycle Technologies will invest in a waste plastic recycling facility and US investment management firm EMP Belstar is mulling an eco-friendly cryogenic logistics centre.

Motie also announced that firms from the two countries signed a total of 23 initial agreements on 25 April. These deals consist of 10 that are related to high-tech industries such as batteries and 13 in clean energy fields such as hydrogen.

Motie described the number of deals signed as “unusual”, adding that it reflects “a significant increase in demand for cooperation between the countries as compared to the past”.

Of the 10 high-tech deals, there is a battery agreement involving the Korea Battery Industry Association, the Korea Electronics Technology Institute, the Korea Industrial Technology Agency and the American not-for-profit trade association NAATBatt, with the companies planning research and development on secondary batteries.

Motie also expects the two countries to sign an agreement to cooperate in the field of secondary batteries to establish a mutual support network to enter the market.

The 13 clean energy deals involve collaborations that span across hydrogen and ammonia blending, blue hydrogen production, liquefied hydrogen refuelling stations, hydrogen power generation, liquefied carbon dioxide carriers, as well as carbon, capture, utilisation and storage.

These deals involve companies including South Korean state-owned power utility Kepco, state-owned oil firm KNOC, refiner SK E&S, as well as ExxonMobil, the US Electric Power Research Institute and Plug Power.

The Korea Trade Insurance Corporation will also work with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency to jointly provide financial support for South Korean companies’ overseas investment projects to secure core mineral supply chains.

“South Korea and the US are expanding the scope of their alliances from military and security to high-tech industries and technology,” said Lee Chang-yang.

Engr. Haseeb Ullah

Haseeb covers the global energy market for both conventional and modern energy resources. His expertise is on the global energy supply chain from generation to distribution and end-users. He has a Master degree in Engineering Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
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