World’s Largest Fuel Cell Plant In South Korea

Fuel cells are often mentioned in the context of hydrogen-powered cars, but they can also be used to power homes. The world’s largest fuel cell power plant in South Korea’s Hwaseong city is home to what could be the next best source of renewable energy. Just an hour’s drive south of Seoul lies Gyunggi Green Energy producing 440 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Each 2.8 MW fuel cell takes up the space of one basketball court each. And 21 of them produce enough electricity to power 135,000 households in Hwaseong city.
Fuel cells produce electricity through the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. Nothing gets burned, which means only steam comes out of the chimneys, making the plant ideal for locations closer to densely populated cities. And unlike other renewable energy sources, they can run 24/7, 365 days a year, unaffected by the weather. POSCO Energy, South Korea’s largest private energy producer, partially-owns and operates the energy park. The company’s invested significant resources into developing the technology, and later this year, it will become the first South Korean company to fully localise the manufacturing process of fuel-cells, a project that is worth more than 86 million US dollars. “The global market size of the fuel cell is from 5 billion to 15 billion US dollars per year. I think may be Korea is the only country who is intensively supporting fuel cell technology. Once fuel cell power plants and technology gets more familiarized throughout this country, we foresee this technology can be evaluated in a different level,” said Vincent Ghim, team leader of Fuel Cell Business Division of Posco Energy.
Experts agree that fuel cells can be an eco-friendly alternative. “So far, natural gas has been used as a fuel to generate electricity. But it’s also possible to use bio-gas from waste to run fuel cell plants. So, this is a great solution to solve two challenges: energy and environmental protection,” said Professor Kim Kyung-Nam, Green School of Korea University.
By the year 2035, South Korea hopes to produce 11 per cent of its power using new and renewable energy sources, and experts hope fuel cells could play a pivotal role in meeting that target.