South Korea and Australia together "is a recipe for success" for their net zero goals if they can "derisk and unlock the investments necessary", Australian diplomat Catherine Raper said at the H2MEET Conference 2023 in South Korea.
"We have all the right ingredients at hand," Raper — the Australian ambassador to South Korea — said on 13 September, referring to Australian expertise and resources, as well as South Korea's global companies' "manufacturing magic".
Australia plans to develop a hydrogen industry with South Korea as an important export market. There have been multiple hydrogen joint ventures between Australian and South Korean firms, such as between the Western Green Energy Hub and South Korea's state-owned power utility Kepco.
But Raper lamented that the countries' strong trading relationship is not matched by comparable levels of investment. South Korea was only Australia's 19th largest direct investment source in 2022, she added.
Speaking more specifically about hydrogen, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission's trade commissioner Ronald Green said Australia has not received any direct South Korean foreign direct investment in its hydrogen projects. "Yes, there's been investments like increasing energy and renewable hydrogen and renewable energy production but there actually hasn't been anything material in hydrogen," Green said at H2MEET on the same day.
Raper alluded to the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership agreed in 2021 and work plans on clean energy technology and critical minerals to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement as "defining commitments" that cannot be achieved without more South Korean investment in Australia, particularly in downstream processing.
Raper called attention to South Korean steel producer Posco's multi-billion dollar investment in Western Australia last year, which aims to produce green hydrogen, as an example of investment support that is needed.
"Australia can make the biggest contribution to global decarbonisation by supporting trade and investment in the clean energy industries and building the decarbonised supply chains of feedstocks for Korea's steel, aluminium and zinc industries," Raper added. "Australia and Korea can support our region's transition for the provision of renewables, value-added products and clean energy expertise and technology." argusmedia
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