By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- SK Group, a South Korean conglomerate, said Thursday it will invest 1.6 trillion won (US$1.5 billion) in U.S. fuel cell maker Plug Power Inc. to expand its footprint in the hydrogen business.
SK Holdings Co., the group's holding firm, and SK E&S Co., a natural gas subsidiary, will acquire a 9.9 percent stake in Plug Power with the strategic investment, and the deal is expected to be finalized in the first quarter, SK said.
The companies will form a joint venture in South Korea next year to provide hydrogen fuel cell systems, fueling stations and electrolyzers to the Korean and broader Asian markets, it said.
Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen gas to power an electric motor, and fuel cells can produce energy without any direct carbon emissions, with their only by-product being water.
Electrolyzers use electricity to break water into hydrogen and oxygen.
SK Group, whose energy portfolio ranges from refinery and battery to natural gas and renewable energy, announced the investment in the leading fuel cell company as part of a broader plan to step up its hydrogen business.
Last month, SK said it plans to ramp up its hydrogen production capacity to 30,000 tons in 2023 and 280,000 tons by 2025 and establish a value chain ranging from production to distribution and supply.
Plug Power has provided 40,000 fuel cell systems for electric vehicles and has built and operated hydrogen filling stations across North America.
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