The fuel cell industry, including all applications in the stationary, portable, and transport sectors, will reach $15.7 billion in 2017, according to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice. A number of challenges must be overcome for that figure to be achieved, however.
“While the fuel cell industry posted growth last year, vendors still face significant headwinds,” said Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director. “Many companies in the portable sector have exited the space or are diversifying to bolster revenue. The transport sector continued to grow in 2011, but the continued movement toward the launch of fuel cell light-duty vehicles in the 2015 timeframe has created a gap between today’s ambitions and tomorrow’s potential.”
The 2014-2015 timeframe remains critical in terms of transitioning from a niche industry to moving into the mainstream, Adamson said. Costs for fuel cell stacks remain much higher than those of incumbent technologies. The industry is at the beginning of the cost curve, and major cost reductions are to be expected over the next five to 10 years. At present, however, the report concludes that fuel cell producers are largely limited to subsidy-strong markets (e.g., California for stationary power) or high-value early adopters (e.g., business users who travel frequently and carry external battery rechargers).
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