|▲ FCI / CEO Taewon Lee|
[Hydrogen Fuel Cell Development Cluster]
On September 28, North Gyeongsang Province held a meeting to discuss building of a hydrogen fuel cell development cluster at Pohang Techno Park in accordance with the government’s hydrogen energy portfolio standard starting next year. 11 companies including STX Energy Solution, Doosan Fuel Cell, Korea Fuel Cell, MicoPower and FCI are expected to participate in the cluster. North Gyeongsang Province is investing 186.3 billion won ($156 million) in the cluster until 2027 to build a 264,462 square meter cluster on the land including the Pohang Bluevalley Industrial Complex. The province also is to provide parts, materials and equipment approval and certificate administrative services with a large scale testbed facility. Meanwhile, the Pohang Hydrogen Fuel Cell Approval Center has been recognized by the Korea Laboratory Accreditation Scheme last July and signed a MOU with STX Energy Solution, FCI and Kceracell. Also as part of this effort, the province and Pohang City have joined hands to push forward technology development with 5 billion won ($419,991) subsidy alongside creating 43 billion won energy new deal fund in the province alone. It is noteworthy that the MOU singed by a number of interested parties including the province, the city and industry and government officials last May was to build a 49,586 square meter solid oxide fuel cell factory with 50MW yearly capacity.
FCI(Fuel Cell Innovations) was established in 2018 as a fuel cell research company by joint technology and capital investment in both South Korea and Saudi Arabia based on the fact that the two countries shared the same policies on carbon neutrality. Both parties signed a hydrogen industry cooperation agreement in 2019 and FCI brought up the general cooperative plan to build infrastructure in both countries which was suggested to the research center and the investment firm in Saudi Arabia for joint investment. Saudi Arabia accepted the suggestion and as a result FCI was turned into a joint company in 2020. FCI also suggested a roadmap for step by step shift from production of electricity and hydrogen to carbon dioxide retrieval at the Science-20 held during the 2020 G20 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The effect was great that South Korean S-OIL and Saudi Arabian Taqnia Energy have made investment and as a result FCI is expected to make 1.2 trillion won ($1 billion) sales through 150MW market in the initial phase of the project until 2027. Long lasting power and price competitiveness are two important factors for this successful deal.
Most employees at FCI boast more than 15 years of experience in development and production of fuel cell. Thanks to this great human resource and its capabilities, the company has obtained 42 intellectual properties as of 2021 that include original technologies such as SOFC, parallel control and high temperature water electrolysis. FCI also has received 12 patents of original technologies on tubular solid oxide fuel cell at the technology sharing event co-held by POSCO and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, while forming technical tie-ups with various companies overseas. Quite recently, FCI and the Italian fuel cell company Solid Power have agreed to work together for fuel cell development by making the most of FCI’s engineering capabilities on one side and Sold Power’s capacity of supplying of more than 2,000 units of SOFC and its tubular solid oxide fuel cell original technologies on the other side. As a result, FCI is to make from 1.5 to 8kW small stacks, developed by Solid Power, in South Korea which then will be developed into larger capacity stacks. During these production processes, FCI is promoting domestic parts and materials companies with target to export the resulted products to the Middle East.
[Investment of S-OIL]
FCI received investment from S-OIL early this year on condition that S-OIL obtains 20% share of FCI. The investment has come from the S-OIL’s energy projects (that include hydrogen and ammonia) which have been coincided with Saudi Aramco that requires fuel cell as an important part. Sold oxide fuel cell technology can provide solutions to hydrogen production, eco-friendly power to move ships and trains, and reuse of carbon dioxide as eco-friendly fuel. These innovative technologies are needed for the S-OIL’s energy projects in the Middle East and FCI has accumulated technologies, experience and knowhow in development of MCFC and in obtaining patents for MCFC and SOFC that efficiently collect and reuse carbon dioxide in particular.
Fuel cell is one of the core parts of the hydrogen economy. Apart from pioneering markets, fostering talented manpower and administrative support are important. In this respect, cooperation with other companies and organizations as well as government support is a must. Taewon Lee, CEO of FCI, says “Pohang has promising fuel cell production infra and it is meaningful that FCI has secured a huge land for a factory in the city. While the paper works are on the way, we are already excited to expand production capacity from 50MW to 200MW on a gradual phase until 2027.” (PowerKorea)
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