Fuel cell devices convert chemical energy into electricity through a chemical reaction within the device. The process requires an oxidizing agent which acts as a catalyst to propagate the reaction and uses hydrogen as primary feedstock. Conventional electricity generation processes utilize fossil fuels as primary feedstock is facing uncertain raw material supply owing to reserves depletion, whereas fuel cell utilizes hydrogen which is available in abundant quantity. This key factor is anticipated to drive the fuel cell market growth over the forecast period.
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Fuel cell gained acceptance worldwide due to eco-friendly nature as their product only consists of nitrous oxide which is projected to witness a significant market growth over the foreseeable future. Fuel cells lack noise creation while electricity generation process as compared to conventional methods which create lots of noise due to moving parts during combustion process. This is anticipated to spur the fuel cell market growth over the next five years. Fuel cell based electricity generation facilities generates one ounce of pollutants to produce 1000 KWH of electricity whereas fossil fuel based electricity facilities creates 25 pounds of pollutants to generate same amount of electricity. The product provides most efficient power back owing to wide range of operating time and can be installed in several types of devices including refrigerators.
Various nations such as Denmark, Finland and Norway have opened hydrogen stations to enhance their fuel cell infrastructure. In 2009, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was approved to manage fuel cells and hydrogen projects portfolio. This act supports accelerating fuel cells commercialization for installation, manufacturing, maintenance and services. The Department of Energy is broadly involved in R&D activities to improve fuel cell technology.
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The extensive governments support is anticipated to generate ample opportunities in near future. The increasing requirement to reduce emission and enhanced fuel efficiency has led researchers to develop fuel cell based commercial vehicles which utilize hydrogen as primary feedstock. Daimler and Hyundai are the prominent participants in fuel cell based vehicles (FCEV-fuel cell electric vehicle) and planning to launch commercialized vehicle in 2015. This is projected to create awareness about the product among the consumers towards fuel cell market.
Fuel Cell Market is segmented based on products as Solid Oxide (SOFC), Alkaline, Molten Carbonate (AMCFC), Phosphoric Acid (PAFC), Direct Methanol (DMFC) and Proton Exchange Membrane (PEMFC). PEMFC was the largest product segment in the market accounting for over 39% of the global capacity in 2013. It also held the largest market share as per the number of units shipped owing to increasing applications in forklifts, telecommunications, automobiles, primary systems, data centers and backup power systems. DMFC was the second major product segment owing to power supply over a longer time period which makes them suitable for mobile phones, laptops and cameras. MCFC are used in static power generation units on a large scale and is expected to be the fastest growing segment owing to large installed capacity and several applications.
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Fuel cells are segmented based on applications as portable, stationary and transportation. Portable applications include APU, personal electronics, consumer products and portable products. Portable application market was the largest market in 2013 accounting for over 70% of the total sold units. UPS, CHP and residential power are stationary applications. Transportation applications include auxiliary power and fuel cell based electric vehicles. The installed capacity of stationary fuel cell exceeded 90MW in 2013 and is expected to grow at fast pace. Transportation segment is not so popular now but is anticipated to grow over the forecast period owing to increasing R&D activites.
The global fuel cell market was extensively concentrated due to top five participants contributed over 80% market share in 2013. Key player in the market is Fuel Cell Energy accounted for over 30% of the total market and is expected to sustain in the market owing to expansion in Bridgeport which is going to be the world’s largest fuel cell plant. Other participants in the fuel cell market include Toshiba, Ballard, Panasonic and Clearedge.
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