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Growth in fuel cell market

The global stationary fuel cell market is forecast to grow, with an increase from US$390 million in 2012 to US$7.52 billion by 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44.7%, thanks to increasing interest in this technology and the help of government subsidy programs, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. The use of fuel cells is expected to increase significantly in several applications. The most important of these will be Combined Heat and Power systems, vehicles, material handling equipment, auxiliary power units and portable charges for consumer electronics.

Additionally, stationary fuel cell installation is expected to jump from 186.9 MW in 2013 to 6,266 MW by 2020, due to expected decreases in costs for set up, shipment and installation.

The cost of a stationary fuel cell system is expected to decrease by more than 50%, from US$3,000/kW in 2013 to US$1,200/kW by 2020.

Harsha Reddy Nagatham, GlobalData’s analyst covering alternative energy, says, “Proton exchange membrane fuel cells, which can be used both for stationary and transport applications, are the most common types of fuel cell currently used. They are less expensive to build, when compared with other types of fuel cells, and can be designed with a wide capacity range of 1.0 kW to 150 kW.

“In terms of installed capacity, molten carbonate fuel cells were also significant contributors in 2011 and 2012, as these are used in large MW scale on-grid or industrial power systems.”
Despite the significant growth, the stationary fuel cell market could still be hindered by high manufacturing costs, due to the use of expensive materials, and lack of supporting infrastructure.

“Support from governments and intra-governmental research organisations may help increase economies of scale initially, and eventually reduce the manufacturing cost in pursuit of commercialising this technology on a large scale.”