US electrolyser and fuel cell maker Plug Power is to build a gigafactory in South Korea as part of a new joint venture (JV) with SK Group, the country’s third largest conglomerate, or chaebol.

Hydrogen: hype, hope and the hard truths around its role in the energy transition
Will hydrogen be the skeleton key to unlock a carbon-neutral world? Subscribe to Accelerate Hydrogen, powered by Recharge and Upstream, and get the market insight you need for this rapidly evolving global market.

The as-yet-unnamed JV will collaborate “to provide hydrogen fuel cell systems, hydrogen fueling stations, electrolyzers and green hydrogen to the Korean and other Asian markets”, according to a statement from the two companies.

This includes plans to build a gigafactory for electrolysers and fuel cells in “a key metropolitan area in South Korea by 2024”.

It will be Plug’s second fuel-cell/electrolyser gigafactory, after announcing it will be build a plant in New York state with a production capacity of more than 1GW of electrical output.

The company revealed last month that it would build a 120MW green-hydrogen plant powered by a 300MW solar farm in California.

SK — which invested $1.6bn in Plug Power earlier this year — was one of 11 chaebols that last month vowed to work together to turn South Korea into a major force in the global hydrogen economy.

The country unveiled a hydrogen economy roadmap in 2019, which called for more than six million fuel-cell electric vehicles, 1,200 H2 filling stations and 15GW of fuel cell power generation by 2040.

“Here in South Korea, we’re thrilled to be working alongside SK to create a vast tapestry of hydrogen refueling stations and key hydrogen infrastructure, which will power industries throughout South Korea and beyond, while helping governments and municipalities reach sustainability goals,” said Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh at the signing of the JV in Seoul.

Choo Hyeongwook, CEO of SK E&S, the subsidiary that will own 51% of the JV, added: “The establishment of the joint venture is meaningful as it secures the basis to enter the Asian market based on hydrogen related core technologies owned by Plug Power.”

Several other companies are building electrolyser gigafactories with capacities of more than 1GW, including the UK’s ITM Power, Norway’s Nel, France’s McPhy and India’s Ohmium.