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Global Fuel Cell Shipments Doubled Between 2008 and 2010

May 19, 2011
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The adoption of fuel cell-powered products is gathering increasing momentum in a variety of application areas, according to a new report. The shift from an R&D-based industry to a fully commercial one is well under way, though it has not been without its setbacks. Fuel cells are now being deployed for applications as diverse as residential power, off-grid mobile communications sites in Africa, low-carbon transportation, and electrical grid reliability. According to a new report from Pike Research, global fuel cell shipments doubled between 2008 and 2010, from approximately 7500 units to more than 15,000 units annually during that period.

“The reasons for the groundswell of interest in fuel cells are as varied as the sectors that are implementing the technology,” said Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director. “Industry and government leaders are finding that fuel cells are a highly effective tool for deploying reliable, clean power for stationary, portable, and transport applications.”

Adamson adds that the largest fuel cell unit growth has been in the stationary power sector, which represented approximately 60% of shipments during 2010. Demand for stationary fuel cells is being driven by a number of early adopter sectors, including the Japanese market for residential units, power for grid-tied and off-grid mobile base stations globally, and combined heat and power (CHP) plants for a variety of markets (e.g.,, hospitals and hotels).

Portable fuel cells have had their ups and downs over the past two years, with a temporary spike in shipments created by the sale of 3000 Toshiba Dynario external battery rechargers in 2009, followed by a sharp decline in total sales in 2010. Significant volumes for transportation fuel cells in cars and buses are still several years away, as automakers gear up for fuel cell vehicle (FCV) launches in 2015, though shipments from the auxiliary power unit (APU) sector continue to increase year-on-year.

In the midst of this period of market evolution, the fuel cell competitive landscape is coming into clearer focus. With literally scores of companies having active development programs, Pike Research’s analysis indicates that a handful of market leaders and fast followers are beginning to emerge. The analysis shows that in 2010, less than a dozen companies accounted for the vast majority of global shipments.

“The next few years will determine which of the current fuel cell companies will survive and thrive, and which will fall by the wayside, but this is also a time when barriers to entry for new companies are decreasing,” Adamson said. “With the start of product standardization, the creation of new business models, and the increasing focus on product shipments, we fully anticipate the market opening up to many new entrants over the next five years.”

For more information, call (303) 997-7609 or visit www.pikeresearch.com.

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