The fuel cell market is expected to grow at a CAGR of about 14.97% during the forecast period of 2021 â€“ 2026, reaching approximately USD 2.17 billion by 2026 up from USD 0.82 billion in 2019. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected the global fuel cell market in the form of supply chain disruptions, project delays, and lack of financial support for R&D activities. According to IEA, current hydrogen demand from oil refining, steel manufacturing, and the chemicals sector has been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The number of hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) open to the public or fleets, worldwide, is increasing. The number of planned HRS over the short term, and till 2030, is also expected to grow significantly. Therefore, the rapid growth in HRS is expected to drive the demand for fuel cell vehicles, which is likely to further supplement the market growth during the forecast period. One of the biggest competitors of fuel cells in todayâ€™s clean fuel-powered vehicle market is the battery. The prices of lithium-ion batteries (LIB) have been decreasing at a very steep rate, which has augmented the growth of LIB adoption, and in a way, has been side-lining the relatively expensive fuel cell technology. This sharp and sustained cost reduction is expected to help reinforce lithium-ion as the battery of choice in all energy storage markets, including residential storage and micro-grids, in turn, hindering the growth of the market studied.
Key Market Trends
Transportation Sector to Dominate the Market
- Transportation application accounted for the largest share in 2019 owing to the rising number of fuel cell powered vehicles across the world.
- Rising interest in heavy-duty transport and energy storage applications and a huge market potential in Asia-Pacific for fuel cells is expected to create significant opportunities for the fuel cell market in the near future.
- As of 2019, Asia-Pacific has dominated the fuel cell market across the globe with the majority of the demand coming from countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea.
Asia-Pacific to Dominate the Market
- The transportation sector has accounted for more than half of the market share in 2019 and is expected to continue its dominance in the coming years. The global focus on clean energy usage in the transportation sector is creating increased opportunities for fuel cell business
- China, Japan, and South Korea are expected to be pivotal in advancing the fuel cell electric vehicle technology, as Toyota and Hyundai-Kia claim to become the global leaders in fuel cell technology. Moreover, the phasing out of BEV incentives globally, from 2020, paralleled by government subsidies for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in Asian countries, including China, Japan, and South Korea, is expected to open the floodgates to private sector investments and herald the start of a new era in fuel cell vehicle technology.
- In Europe, the market is driven by the JIVE (Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles), which seeks to deploy 139 new zero-emission fuel cell buses and refueling infrastructure across five countries by 2020.
- The JIVE started in January 2017 and is co-funded by EUR 32 million grant from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). The project consortium involves 22 partners from seven countries. Further, JIVE2 started in January 2018 and on a combined basis the JIVE2 projects are expected to deploy around 300 fuel cell buses in 22 cities across Europe by the early 2020s. Such projects are likely to augment the fuel cell demand in the transportation sector during the forecast period.
- Asia-Pacific accounted for the major share in 2018 and is expected to continue its dominance during the forecast period. Asia-Pacific is one of the promising regional markets for fuel cells in the coming years, on account of the favorable government policies in countries, such as China, Japan and South Korea, which are driving the clean energy usage. Among the available fuel cell technologies, the PEMFC is the most commonly used fuel cell in the region.
- China has great potential in the fuel cell market as the government is increasingly focusing on ways to utilize clean energy technology in order to switch to a low-carbon economy.
- Moreover, the hydrogen fuel cell industry in the country has been gaining traction on the back of favorable national and provincial government subsidies & incentive programmes from local authorities to encourage the uptake of hydrogen vehicles to cut pollution.
- In China, an order for 74 fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) was placed from Zhangjiakou City in preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The deployment of FCEBs is likely to grow in other cities in China in near future.
- Japan had implemented one of the most successful fuel cell commercialization programs, Ene-farm programme, in 2015. The program led to the deployment of over 120,000 residential fuel cell systems. Japan has added nearly 50,000 units (roughly 35 MW) of residential micro-CHP fuel cell systems in 2018, under the Ene-farm programme.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Governmentâ€™s (TMGâ€™s) plan to power several operations in 2020 Olympic and Paralympics games, which will be held at Tokyo, using fuel cell technology has created ample business opportunity for fuel cell companies. Toyota is planning to sell 100 fuel cell powered buses, including PEM type before the game starts. Also, the Tokyo government has created a reserve of USD 350 million to subsidize hydrogen-based fuel cell cars and refuelling stations for the same.
- Therefore, factors such as supportive government policies and efforts to incorporate fuel cell technology in transportation and other applications are expected to drive the fuel cell market in the region during the forecast period.
The global fuel cell market is moderately fragmented. Some of the major companies include Ballard Power Systems Inc., FuelCell Energy Inc., Plug Power Inc., and Hydrogenics Corporation.
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