South Korea has selected the first winners of its competitive auction for hydrogen power plants, awarding five projects with a combined 715GWh of annual generating capacity.

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However, this tender system, announced in March this year, allows for these plants to use “general hydrogen” — a euphemism given for grey H2 —with no plans to start auctioning generating capacity run on specifically low-carbon hydrogen until 2027.

This latest auction saw 73 bids from 43 companies for a combined 3,878GWh.

While the original announcement indicated the first tender would be for 1,300GWh, the government plans to open another auction at the end of August, which could make up this apparent gap.

Each of the winning projects was less than 40MW in nameplate capacity, with priority given to power plants in metropolitan areas where electricity demand outweighed supply.

While the announcement from the Korea Power Exchange, which ran the auction, did not name the winners, local reports indicate that around 70MW of fuel cells for these power plants were supplied by Korean conglomerate Doosan.

Power prices achieved through competitive bidding were also 10% lower than those seen during the previous policy to put more clean power on the grid, the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), according to South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The RPS mandates power producers with installed capacity over 500MW to generate a minimum share, which rose up to 10% in 2022, using renewable and “new” energy sources — including hydrogen of any origin, despite the emissions footprint of grey H2 derived from fossil gas.