The strategy of alkali fuel cell developer AFC Energy to focus its marketing efforts on South Korea (see MPS, June 2014, pp 28-29) seems to be paying off, with two significant agreements announced in July, paving the way for deployment of its fuel cells in that country. The first was an MOU with Chang Shin for fuel cell systems employing hydrogen produced at its chemical works, starting with a pilot KORE unit (about 250 kW), but envisaging additional future units with a total generating capacity of up to 5 MW. The second was a "heads of agreement" with Daniel Inc, a Korea based fuel cell focused power plant owner and developer, for an initial 1 MW fuel cell system with a follow-on option for a further 3 MW project.
In line with AFC’s strategy, both deals will be structured as energy supply contracts under which AFC will install and operate its fuel cell systems at customer sites in return for long term fees.
The first Daniel system will use a mixture of LNG and biomass derived gas as its fuel source. The project, which will benefit from Korea’s clean energy incentive programme, favouring aggressive deployment of fuel cells by large electricity producers and users, has been facilitated with the assistance of KDB Daewoo Securities, acting as introducer for AFC Energy.
Nathan Dohyoung Kang of Daewoo says he sees "huge potential in AFC Energy’s technology", being a perfect fit with Korea’s renewable energy plans, particulary its efforts to incentivise non-photovoltaic renewables, and notes that "many of our other clients have already demonstrated a clear interest in AFC Energy’s fuel cell systems and we look forward to making further introductions of the technology to the region."
According to Kepco, the state-owned electric utility, Korea’s total stationary fuel cell installed capacity is estimated to increase from 306 MW currently to about 780 MW in 2015, nearly doubling again by 2020. Although the country is poor in natural resources, it has an abundance of readily available hydrogen and syngas, produced as byproducts in its large chemical complexes.