The key to the adoption of fuel cells is to align their capabilities with the growing need for reliable, long-lasting, affordable alternatives to conventional batteries and small generators for a variety of portable devices, according to a new report from Pike Research.
The fuel cell market is projected to grow from $122 million in 2008 to approximately $2.7 billion in ten years, with the majority of the market initially in North America, followed by Asia Pacific and Western Europe, according to the report.
The report, “Fuel Cells for Portable Power Applications“, also indicates that after the U.S. federal government stimulus money is exhausted, the Western Europe market is expected to equal and surpass North America.
“There is no one killer app for fuel cells. Instead, there are dozens of niche applications that have an increasing need for the clean, reliable power that fuel cells can provide,” said Bill Matvichuk, industry analyst at Pike Research in a statement. “Over the next several years, fuel cell manufacturers must tailor their offerings to serve the specific requirements of a multitude of consumer and industrial products.”
Matvichuk said these applications will be determined primarily by the power level capabilities of the fuel cells.
The report covers the market opportunity for specific niche applications within five key power level segments: 1-20 watts (W), 20-100 W, 100-500 W, 1-2 kW, and 2-7 kW. A few application examples for each of the power level segments include the following:
- 1-20 watts: Consumer electronics, small appliances, toys, and remote sensors
- 20-100 watts: Unattended sensors, video surveillance, medical devices, and military electronics
- 100-500 watts: First responder battery charging, power tools, and unmanned vehicles
- Sub 2 kilowatts: Replacement for gasoline and diesel generators, watercraft, combat support systems, and auxiliary power units
- 2-7 kilowatts: Materials handling such as forklifts, weapon systems, and causeway systems