This year has seen a rise in shipments of fuel cells to more than 20 000 and the global market is predicted to surpass US$15 billion by 2017 according to a report by Pike Research.
The report suggests the industry value will be US$15.7 billion by 2017 across the board of stationary, portable and transport sectors of the fuel cell industry, having seen a compounded annual growth rate of 83% for the years 2009-2011. This forecasted figure is dependant upon companies rising to the challenges posed over the coming years. This may mean diversification of products or moving toward different areas of expertise.
Despite growth in the transport sector the movement towards mass commercialisation of fuel cell powered vehicles is not yet realised, car manufacturers believe this will be by 2015, says Pike Research. This is critical for moving away from a niche to the mainstream market.
High costs remain the prohibitive factor in the promotion of the technology, the report notes. Although costs are expected to fall over the coming years, the technologies are relatively new which means production costs will remain high.
The report concluded that fuel cell producers, at this stage, are restricted to growth only in areas that have high investment, such as in stationary power in California. The research is based upon figures for megawatts shipped, electrolyte adoption rates, system shipments and revenue generated in different sectors and applications.