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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Feb. 25)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:03 February 25, 2021

Hydrogen alliance
: Hyundai, POSCO team up for carbon neutrality

Hyundai Motor and POSCO are stepping up their collaboration to jointly develop technology to replace coal with hydrogen to produce steel and set up an eco-friendly mobility infrastructure. According to industry sources Wednesday, the nation's largest automaker and the top steelmaker have embarked on full-fledged efforts to implement a Feb. 16 agreement to jointly set up a hydrogen ecosystem.

Under the business tie-up, Hyundai Motor and POSCO will endeavor to achieve their much-touted carbon neutrality which has emerged as the most important agenda in the global energy sector. Hyundai will gradually provide 1,500 hydrogen-powered vehicles for operation at POSCO's steel mills.

The two companies plan to jointly manufacture hydrogen fuel-cell batteries with POSCO offering hydrogen and Hyundai turning out batteries. They also plan to work together to explore business opportunities in overseas markets.

The partnership is expected to have a far-reaching impact on the domestic and global markets, given Hyundai's status as a leading manufacturer of hydrogen and electric vehicles and POSCO's prowess in steel production. On Tuesday, Hyundai Motor unveiled its state-of-the-art Ioniq 5, its first electric vehicle (EV) model using its own Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP).

The two companies deserve acclaim for joining hands toward a common goal, despite the fact that Hyundai Steel, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor, is a rival of POSCO. This shows how essential carbon neutrality is in ensuring the sustainability of businesses.

For instance, the European Union is seeking to introduce a carbon border adjustment mechanism this year, imposing a carbon tax on imports whose production results in a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions. The United States has also focused on the hydrogen industry since President Joe Biden took office and pledged to return to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The business tie-up will likely create synergy. Hyundai began research and development into hydrogen vehicles in 1998, and finally reached a target production of 10,000 cars last July. POSCO also unveiled a plan to produce 5 million tons of hydrogen gas by 2050, with the goal of achieving 30 trillion won ($27 billion) in annual revenue.

The drive toward hydrogen has already become an urgent national task. Yet, such a goal cannot be achieved only with the collaboration between the two companies. It can only gain momentum when supported with state assistance and cooperation. The government has been moving toward that end since last year by, for instance, setting up a special committee headed by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun.

It has been implementing a package of measures to stimulate the hydrogen economy. Yet we have still a long way to go. For instance, the government and Hyundai plan to set up 35 hydrogen stations across the country for commercial vehicles. But the plan has been stalled due to repercussions from nearby residents. We urge the government to provide more support to usher in a hydrogen economy which is vital to Korea's green future.

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