South Korea is trying to win the race to create the first hydrogen-powered society. It wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022 as it positions itself as a leader in the green technology. The plan will see the cities use hydrogen as the fuel for cooling, heating, electricity and transportation. Consultation on where the three cities will be located is under way.
The test cities will use a hydrogen-powered transportation system, including buses and personal cars. Hydrogen charging stations will be available in bus stations and parking spaces. The strategy is part of a wider vision to power 10% of the country's cities, counties and towns by hydrogen by 2030, growing to 30% by 2040.
This includes drastic increases in the numbers of hydrogen-powered vehicles and charging points in the next three years. The government has earmarked money to subsidize these vehicles and charging infrastructure.
Countries including Germany, Japan and China are also looking to a future hydrogen society, with a number of Asian car manufacturers including Hyundai, Toyota and Honda sinking resources into creating a range of hydrogen powered cars.
With fuel cell vehicles – or FCVs – generally offering greater range and faster refueling times than electric vehicles, there is great hope that they will accelerate the transition to cleaner vehicles.
But challenges remain with the technology. Although some FCVs are now on the market, for many the cost remains prohibitive and they have some way to go before they become mainstream.
The output from hydrogen-powered cars is only water as a by-product. Producing the hydrogen itself is an energy-intensive process though, but as long as the production is powered by renewable sources the system is completely clean.