Fuel cells have an important role to play within the emerging smart energy paradigm. They represent one of a wave of commercially available technologies that are resilient, distributed, and efficient. Though the fuel cell industry has displayed some encouraging signs in the last three years, it still faces significant headwinds – including the high costs for fuel cell stacks compared those of incumbent technologies and a lack of customer awareness of the advantages of fuel cell technology.
Nevertheless, according to a recent report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, annual shipments of fuel cell systems will grow rapidly over the next five years, from less than 29,000 in 2012 to more than 600,000 in 2017.
The market value of the fuel cell industry, including all applications in the stationary, portable, and transport sectors, will reach $15.7 billion in 2017, the study concludes.
“Due to a jump in orders in the first quarter of 2012, the industry is on target to surpass the billion-dollar mark by the end of 2012,” says research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. “The period 2014-2015, when the first fuel cell vehicles are expected to be rolled out, remains critical in terms of transitioning from a niche industry to starting to move into the mainstream.”
The stationary fuel cell sector continues to provide the foundation for the entire industry in terms of shipments, success stories, and decreased costs. The stationary fuel cell sector broke 20,000 systems shipped in 2011, according to the report, a significant jump over 2010. The area that saw the largest jump was combined heat and power (CHP), with residential CHP taking the lion's share of the growth.
The report, “Fuel Cells Annual Report 2012”, provides an assessment of the state of the global fuel cell market across its three major industry sectors: stationary, portable, and transport. The study includes qualitative and quantitative analysis of demand drivers and barriers, public policy factors, and key industry players in the worldwide fuel cell industry. Market sizing and forecasts are included for megawatts shipped, electrolyte adoption rates, system shipments, and revenue by sector and application. This year’s edition of the report also includes a special section on the impact that the current natural gas boom could have on the fuel cell industry. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Pike Research website.