South Korea is researching a scheme to develop an offshore green hydrogen plant based on a floating production, storage and offloading vessel using offshore wind power to produce the hydrogen.

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Last week, the country established a consortium to spearhead initial engineering of a newbuild hydrogen FPSO (H-FPSO), which will later be rolled into a pilot project, according to South Korean press reports citing a press release.

The consortium led by Korea Maritime & Ocean University (KMOU), which also includes class society Korean Register (KR) as well as possibly shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), aims to produce a 1-megawatt pilot plant in 2022 before developing and demonstrating a gigawatt-class plant in 2030.

KMOU will carry out the research, development and demonstration of the H-FPSO using the university’s patented floating technology from a previous project in which it built a floating nuclear power system, according to KMOU president Doh Deog-hee.

In partnership with power utility-geared engineering arm Kepco E&C and DSME, KMOU developed a floating offshore nuclear power plant based on a small modular reactor named BANDI-60S, which is a block-type pressurised water reactor.

KMOU sees the H-FPSO concept as an optimal option for South Korea to achieve carbon neutrality, export related technologies and accelerate the use of hydrogen fuel.

KMOU president Doh Deog-hee Photo: KMOU

It is not clear how the H-FPSO pilot project will financed, or where will be the first vessel will be deployed, while Doh did not reply to Upstream’s queries as this article went to press.

Korean researchers believe the FPSO concept presents a strong solution for the production of green hydrogen using only water and renewable energy, with the H-FPSO concept linked to planned offshore wind farms.

Recent research by German consultancy Roland Berger found floating offshore wind could be combined with hydrogen conversion to enable green hydrogen production in remote waters known for strong and consistent winds.

Roland Berger senior associate Maarten de Vries said: "It is conceivable that floating turbines, green hydrogen and the use of FPSO will come together to enable offshore production of very low-cost green hydrogen – no matter how remote the location.”

"It is better to convert offshore wind energy into hydrogen through electrolysis at the source at sea, rather than on shore," said Bram Albers, principal at Roland Berger's Amsterdam office.

South Korea is set to invest heavily in hydrogen projects in order to boost the use of the clean fuel in its energy consumption mix.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy earlier said that five Korean conglomerates will invest 43.4 trillion won (US$38 billion) in hydrogen technology by 2030.

The country has released a Green New Deal that aims to triple renewable electricity generation by 2025.

In January 2019, South Korea released its Hydrogen Economy Roadmap that aims to increase the number of fuel cell cars to 79,000 by 2022 and to 5.9 million units by 2040.