SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday vowed to foster a so-called "hydrogen economy" as a new growth engine to create jobs and pursue an eco-friendly society.
"Our government's determination is firm toward a hydrogen economy. It is a golden opportunity to fundamentally change our national energy system and foster new growth engine," Moon said on an occasion with businessmen from hydrogen-related companies, including Hyundai Motor.
The hydrogen economy would become a "revolutionary" change to turn the country's energy source from coal and oil into hydrogen, Moon said in Ulsan, about 410 km southeast of Seoul, which houses hydrogen-relevant businesses such as a Hyundai Motor facility.
The industrial city of Ulsan was the fourth leg of Moon's sporadic industry-bolstering tours, which began in October, to help reinvigorate regional economies, according to the presidential Blue House.
The Moon government picked the hydrogen economy, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data as three major strategic investment sectors in August last year.
Hyundai Motor, the country's largest automaker, unveiled a long-term roadmap in December to expand its hydrogen business, planning to increase its annual fuel-cell systems production capacity to 700,000 units by 2030 that includes 500,000 units for fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
Hyundai's fuel-cell systems, which combine hydrogen fuel with oxygen taken from the air to produce electricity, are known to emit only water as a by-product and help purify polluted air. The fuel-cell system involves fuel-cell stack and relevant components.
Hyundai aimed to expand its hydrogen business beyond the automotive sector by supplying its fuel-cell system to other manufacturers of drones, vessels, rolling stocks and forklifts as well as automobiles.
Moon said his country had a great potential for the hydrogen economy, which can be led by major industries such as the automotive, shipbuilding and petrochemical businesses.
The Moon administration set its cumulative production target of hydrogen-powered vehicles at 1.8 million by 2030, forecasting that the hydrogen economy will create 200,000 more jobs and generate an economic effect of 25 trillion won (22 billion U.S. dollars) by 2030 in a cumulative basis.
The president said the hydrogen economy can help South Korea solidify its energy security by using hydrogen that can be found anywhere without limits. The country depends on import for 95 percent of its energy needs.
He noted that the hydrogen-powered cars had a function of purifying fine dust in the air, saying that if the targeted hydrogen vehicles are supplied by 2030, it would annually reduce about 30,000 tons, or 10 percent, of the fine dust currently produced.
In a separate long-term blueprint for the hydrogen economy, the ministry of trade, industry and energy said it will build an eco-friendly society by using hydrogen as the main source of energy for power generation as well as cars.
Under the blueprint, the country aimed to increase the cumulative production of hydrogen-powered vehicles to 6.2 million by 2040, including 3.3 million for export. As of 2018, some 2,000 hydrogen cars have been manufactured.
The number of hydrogen charging stations would be raised to 310 by 2022 from the current 14. The ministry aimed to lift the number to 1,200 by 2040.
Around 40,000 hydrogen-powered buses would run on the road by 2040, together with 80,000 hydrogen taxis and 30,000 trucks, according to the ministry estimates.
In the energy segment, the government aimed to supply fuel cell for power generation of 1 gigawatt (GW) by 2022, planning to expand it to 15 GM by 2040 that includes 8 GM for domestic use and 7 GW for export. As of 2018, the country's electric power capacity was 113 GW.
It aimed to supply 2.1 GW of hydrogen-generated power with houses and buildings by 2040 that can be used for some 1 million households.