Global fuel cell spending is forecast to climb 10.9 percent annually to $10.3 billion in 2015 and total $19.2 billion in 2020. Commercial demand for fuel cell products and services will more than triple to $2.9 billion in 2015 and then triple again to $9.4 billion in 2020, when it will account for nearly half of all outlays. Market gains will be driven by continuing technological advances, helping bring costs down to competitive levels in a growing number of applications, and bolstered by improved economies of scale as fuel cell manufacturers increase production.
Commercial sales of fuel cell systems will expand exponentially in unit terms. Although gains are projected to be strong for most fuel cell applications, virtually all of this increase will be attributable to an explosion in sales of portable fuel cell systems, which are expected to account for 97 percent of all unit demand in 2020. The market for portable electronics fuel cells, most of which are currently utilized in niche applications like defense and educational toys, will be spurred by user frustration over the shortcomings of batteries as a power source, and declining costs will help make fuel cells an affordable alternative source of portable power.
Although fuel cells used in motor vehicle applications will account for less than details on any study visit one-half of one percent of the total number of systems sold in 2020, they will make up the largest single share of demand in dollar terms. A number of major automakers have announced plans to begin offering fuel cell vehicles commercially in 2015 or before, and sales are forecast to ramp up from what are currently extremely modest levels, consisting predominantly of revenues generated from the sale of products and services associated with prototyping, demonstration and test marketing. With a number of products already on the market, electric power generation applications accounted for well over half of all commercial fuel cell demand in 2010. Electric power generation-related fuel cell sales will continue to grow at a brisk pace through 2020, benefitting from the relatively low hurdles that this equipment has to overcome to achieve cost competitiveness and its much greater fuel efficiency compared to conventional power generation methods.
Proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are by far the most widely used, and they will strengthen their dominant market position over the next decade. More organizations are working to develop and market PEM systems than any other single fuel cell chemistry, which will help boost demand as additional PEM products are introduced. However, demand for direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) will expand at a faster rate through 2020. DMFCs can extract hydrogen from methanol without the need for a reformer, making them highly suitable for powering small electronic devices where a reformer would add unwanted bulk. Sales of hightemperature solid-oxide and molten carbonate fuel cells are also projected to climb rapidly because of their ability to use multiple fuels and their high energy efficiency, which can exceed 80 percent if excess heat generated is recaptured for cogeneration purposes.
Details on these and other key findings are contained in a new Freedonia industry study, “World Fuel Cells”, presents historical demand data 2000, 2005 and 2010) plus forecasts for 2015 and 2020 by product, chemistry, application, world region and for 15 countries. The study also considers key market environment factors, assesses industry structure, evaluates company market share and profiles 37 industry competitors worldwide.