Stationary Fuel Cell Market: Consumer Preference for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells Continues to Surge

Stationary fuel cells are being used extensively for commercial, industrial, and even residential purposes, as they provide clean power that is not connected to the grid. The low-emission factor, coupled with lower efficiency losses during transmission, in comparison to other clean technologies, contributes to their rising popularity. One of the most promising technologies that is currently being used for stationary and portable applications is proton exchange membrane fuel cells, which use water-based acidic polymer membranes as electrolytes. They are highly efficient, non-polluting power sources, and accounted for around half of the total share of the stationary fuel cell market by volume in 2018. The segment is expected to expand more than 3X by the end of the forecast period in 2027, to hit the ~105 thousand units mark.

However, for use in stationary applications, solid oxide fuel cells are also fast gaining popularity.  These contain solid oxides or ceramic electrolytes, which are far more stable and offer higher efficiency at relatively lower costs, contributing to their rising popularity as a fuel cell of preference for end users in the stationary fuel cell market. By value, they accounted for ~50% of the total share of the stationary fuel cell market in 2018, and this share is expected to expand at a value CAGR of ~13% over the forecast period, from 2019 to 2027.

stationary fuel cell market infographic

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Commercial Applications of Stationary Fuel Cells to Drive Market

Stationary fuel cells have found application in various sectors for primary as well as back-up power generation, and are generally based on combined heat and power (CHP) technology for both, heated water and air. They are being used to power a range of products, from individual computers to smaller single-family homes in residential applications, stores, buildings, and larger structures in the commercial sphere, and even data centers and power plants in the industrial sector.

However, the most prominent end user of the stationary fuel cell market in 2018 was the commercial sector, accounting for over half of the total share by value. It is anticipated that this segment is likely to expand at a CAGR of ~12% by revenue over the forecast period, and is estimated to be valued at ~US$ 4.4 Bn by the end of 2027. The myriad of benefits that stationary fuel cells offer, such as low emissions, reduced noise production, and requirement of less space, make them highly popular in the commercial sector, which has had a positive impact on the growth of the stationary fuel cell market as a whole.

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Fuel Cells Versus Conventional Fuels: A Side-by-side Comparison

Stationary fuel cells, which are increasingly replacing conventional power sources such as internal combustion engines and batteries, are considered more advantageous in various respects. The benefits of fuel cell include higher efficiency in comparison to conventional fuels, making it their biggest advantage over conventional fuels. They also generate less noise when compared to internal combustion engines, making them more suitable for commercial settings such as hospitals. Fuel cells run on renewable energy and eliminate the emission of greenhouse gases, which contributes greatly to their popularity around the world.

Fuel cells are also comparatively easier to maintain over their conventional fuel counterparts, owing to a fewer number of moving parts, also promoting their popularity in recent years. It is also a step forward in the global economy perspective, as they do not require fossil fuels and conventional sources of energy to produce electricity. This also reduces dependency on oil-producing countries, promoting energy security in the long run.

Criticism for Fuel Cell Technology

As an efficient provider of power, stationary fuel cells have been gaining traction in recent years, and are expected to continue on a similar vein until the end of the forecast period. However, in portable applications, particularly cars, fuel cells have faced criticism on several fronts, including viability, high costs of raw materials, and lack of commercial scalability.

This criticism has also negatively impacted the stationary fuel cell market, as high cost of raw materials and production are being cited as possible reasons hindering the growth of the market. Coupled with this, lack of infrastructure for the fuel cells to be incorporated into are also likely to have a negative impact on the growth of the stationary fuel cell market.

stationary fuel cell market segmentation

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Analysts’ Overview

The global stationary fuel cell market is set to grow at a robust pace over the forecast period of 2019 - 2027, as high efficiency and minimal-to-zero emission of GHG are being targeted globally, leading to stationary fuel cells gaining traction in commercial and industrial sectors. According to analysts at Transparency Market Research, manufacturers targeting their R&D towards lightweight and compact materials for solid fuel cell systems, for better product efficacy, are likely to maximize their gains during the forecast period.

The regional markets of APAC and North America collectively held more than three-fourth of the total share of the global stationary fuel cell market in 2018. These markets are expected to continue to remain lucrative during the forecast period, due to the demand for clean electricity rising from these regions at a faster rate than other regions, coupled with the requirement to align with global clean electricity goals, which has led to a rise in the adoption of stationary fuel cells. Manufacturers looking to strengthen their presence in these markets by reinforcing their distribution channels are likely to have bright prospects in the foreseeable future.

Global Stationary Fuel Cell Market: Description

  • Stationary fuel cells are mostly used for primary or backup power generation. These fuel cells are usually based on combined heat and power (CHP) or micro combined heat and power technology, generating power and heated water or air.
  • Research & development activities in the demonstration and adoption of improved and efficient fuel cell technology are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and enhance the efficiency of power.
  • Rapid growth of population, high dependency on fossil fuels, increase in the demand for electricity, implementation of stringent government regulations to minimize carbon emissions, and rise in awareness about clean energy across the world are key drivers of the global stationary fuel cell market.

Key Growth Drivers of Global Stationary Fuel Cell Market

  • Stationary fuel cells can provide backup, ranging from a short-term period of eight hours to a long-term period of three days. The backup continues as long as the fuel is supplied.
  • Stationary fuel cells do not occupy much space and can be integrated in various machines, including refrigerators. Overheating causes issues in conventional batteries. Stationary fuel cells are known to operate at a temperature lower than that of conventional batteries.
  • Lithium-ion batteries were better alternatives for lead batteries in the 1970s. However, the market share of lithium-ion batteries has been declining over a period of time due to advancements in stationary fuel cells.
  • Lithium-ion batteries store electricity and dispense it whenever required. However, their charging capacity diminishes with aging, resulting in deterioration of battery life.
  • Backup power systems need to be reliable. This can be achieved through fuel cells. Stationary fuel cells deliver continuous power during power failures, with less than a minute of maintenance in six years. Lithium-ion batteries are the major substitutes for stationary fuel cells; however, these batteries heat up and become resistive during usage. Stationary fuel cells have parts that do not vibrate; hence, they are less noisy and require low maintenance as compared to generators or existing backup power options.
  • The usage of stationary fuel cells instead of conventional batteries is anticipated to help curb extra energy consumption and cost, and keep the environment green and safe.

Major Challenges for Global Stationary Fuel Cell Market

  • High cost continues to restrain the demand for stationary fuel cells. The solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology exhibits promising growth in the commercial industry; however, precious and expensive metal catalysts used to build solid oxide fuel cell based stationary fuel cell systems account for more than 70% of the total cost.
  • The development of stationary fuel cell requires high initial investment and extensive research & development, as the market is still in the nascent phase. Therefore, only companies with large funds and high expertise would find it easy to enter the stationary fuel cell market.
  • The cost of switching from one type of fuel cell to another is high for manufacturers, as it would require the establishment of a new plant and abandoning the old plant. It is difficult to store hydrogen. Furthermore, a pipeline is needed to deliver hydrogen. Pipelines used to carry hydrogen are approximately 30% more expensive than those that carry natural gas.

Lucrative Opportunities for Global Stationary Fuel Cell Market

  • Rise in awareness about the environment and increase in carbon emissions are driving the adoption of green and clean energy. Burning of fossil fuels leads to greenhouse emissions. In 2018, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reported that, carbon dioxide alone constituted 82% of the total greenhouse gases. It further reported that, global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to increase at a rate of 1.9% annually.
  • The prices of stationary fuel cells are also decreasing, making them competitive with other fuels such as gasoline and diesel. Stationary fuel cells can reduce emissions from 85% to 35% if they replace gasoline or diesel IC engines. Stationary fuel cells are also beneficial if replaced in battery-operated forklifts, since they lower emissions by 30%.
  • Implementation of U.S. EPA regulations related to the reduction of greenhouse gases, and amendments such as the Clean Air Act, are encouraging consumers to adopt fuel cell-driven cars.

Asia Pacific to Dominate Global Stationary Fuel Cell Market

  • Asia Pacific accounted for a leading share of the global stationary fuel cell market in 2018, led by the rise in the demand for electricity in industrial centers such as data centers and hospitals. A few countries in the region, such as China and South Korea, provide subsidies on the installation of fuel cells. This is expected to drive the stationary fuel cell market in Asia Pacific during the forecast period.
  • Investments in clean energy through the adoption of fuel cell technology have been increasing in Asia Pacific. This is anticipated to change the energy mix in Asia in the next few years. Enactment of stringent government regulations to minimize carbon emissions is anticipated to play a key role in the rise in the demand for stationary fuel cells in Asia Pacific during the forecast period.

Europe Also Offers Growth Opportunities

  • Europe constituted ~18% share of the global stationary fuel cell market in 2018. Europe is an attractive region of the global stationary fuel cell market, led by increase in the number of stringent government regulations to minimize carbon emissions. This has resulted in a shift toward green energy, thereby boosting the demand for stationary fuel cells.
  • Carbon-free transportation and stringent government regulations to minimize carbon emissions have boosted the demand for stationary fuel cells in Europe. Fuel cell technologies are benefitting from various European programs focusing on smart grids, storage of renewable energy, and clean urban transportation.
  • Awareness about the benefits of electricity generation from fuel cells is high in developed countries such as the U.S, Canada, and Russia. Rapid growth in population and high demand for electricity have led to a paradigm shift toward alternate sources of electricity generation such as fuel cells. Thus, the demand for fuel cells is anticipated to increase in the countries mentioned above during the forecast period.

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC) to Account for Prominent Share

  • In terms of type, the proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) segment accounted for a major share of the global stationary fuel cell market in 2018. The segment is anticipated to continue its dominance during the forecast period. These cells are employed in various applications such as in forklifts, automobiles, telecommunications, data centers, primary systems, and backup power systems. These fuel cells are used in units ranging from several watts to several kilowatts.
  • PEMFC is one of the promising technologies used for light-duty vehicles in stationary applications. These cells use water-based acidic polymer membranes as electrolytes. They are also used for the generation of electricity in the residential sector.
  • Proton exchange membrane fuel cells are also called polymer electrolyte fuel cells. They are used as highly-efficient, non-polluting power sources for vehicles and electronic devices. These cells typically operate at temperatures ranging from 160°F to 195°F, and pressures ranging from 15 psig to 30 psig.

Leading Players Actively Engage in Capacity Expansions and R&D Activities

  • Key players operating in the global stationary fuel cell market include -
    • Bloom Energy
    • Ballard Power Systems Inc.
    • FuelCell Energy, Inc.
    • Plug Power Inc.
    • Hydrogenics Corporation
    • Ceres Power Holdings plc
    • Doosan Corporation
    • Intelligent Energy Limited
    • Toshiba Corporation
    • Panasonic Corporation
    • Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd.
    • SerEnergy A/S
    • Sainergy Tech, Inc.
    • FC TecNrgy Pvt. Ltd.
    • K- Pas Instronic Engineers India Private Limited
    • Power & Energy, Inc.

‚ÄčThese companies are actively engaged in expansions, mergers & acquisitions, and joint ventures in order to maintain their share in the global stationary fuel cell market.

  • On June 09, 2019, Ballard Power Systems Inc. launched the 8th generation Zero-Emission Fuel Cell Module FCmove HD for the heavy duty automotive market, at the UITP Global Public Transport Summit held in Stockholm, Sweden.

Stationary Fuel Cell Market - Scope of the Report

The latest study collated and published by Transparency Market Research (TMR) analyzes the historical and present-day scenario of the global stationary fuel cell market to accurately gauge its potential development. The study presents detailed information about the important growth factors, restraints, and key trends that are creating the landscape for the future growth of the stationary fuel cell market, to identify the opportunistic avenues of the business potential for stakeholders. The report also provides insightful information about how the stationary fuel cell market will progress during the forecast period of 2019 - 2027.

The report offers intricate dynamics about the different aspects of the stationary fuel cell market that aid companies operating in the market in making strategic development decisions. TMR’s study also elaborates on the significant changes that are highly anticipated to configure the growth of the stationary fuel cell market during the forecast period. It also includes a key indicator assessment to highlight the growth prospects of the stationary fuel cell market , and estimates statistics related to market progress in terms of value (US$ Mn) and volume (units).

This study covers a detailed segmentation of the stationary fuel cell market, along with key information and a competitive outlook. The report mentions the company profiles of key players that are currently dominating the stationary fuel cell market, wherein, various development, expansion, and winning strategies practiced and executed by leading players have been presented in detail.

Key Questions Answered in TMR’s Report on Stationary Fuel Cell Market

The report provides detailed information about the stationary fuel cell market on the basis of comprehensive research on various factors that are playing a key role in accelerating the growth potential of the market. Information mentioned in the report answers path-breaking questions for companies that are currently functioning in the market and are looking for innovative ways to create a unique benchmark in the stationary fuel cell market, so as to help them make successful strategies and take target-driven decisions.

  • Which type of fuel cell will emerge as a major revenue generator of the stationary fuel cell market during the forecast period?
  • How are key market players successfully earning revenue out of the advantages of stationary fuel cells?
  • What will be the Y-o-Y growth of the stationary fuel cell market from 2019 and 2027?
  • What are the winning imperatives of market frontrunners in the stationary fuel cell market?
  • Which end user is estimated to develop lucrative opportunities for stationary fuel cells during the forecast period?
  • Which are the leading companies in the global stationary fuel cell market?

Research Methodology - Stationary Fuel Cell Market

The research methodology adopted by analysts for combining the stationary fuel cell market report is based on detailed primary as well as secondary research. With the help of in-depth insights of the industry-affiliated information that is obtained and legitimated by market-admissible resources, analysts have offered riveting observations and authentic forecasts of the stationary fuel cell market.

During the primary research phase, analysts interviewed industry stakeholders, investors, brand managers, vice presidents, and sales and marketing managers. On the basis of data obtained through the interviews of genuine resources, analysts have emphasized the changing scenario of the stationary fuel cell market.

For secondary research, analysts scrutinized numerous annual report publications, white papers, industry association publications, and company websites to obtain the necessary understanding of the stationary fuel cell market.

Stationary Fuel Cell Market - Segmentation

TMR’s research study assesses the stationary fuel cell market on the basis of type, stacking, end user, and region. This report presents the extensive market dynamics and progressive trends associated with different segments, and how they are influencing the growth prospects of the stationary fuel cell market.

Type

  • Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC)
  • Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells (PAFC)
  • Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFC)
  • Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC)
  • Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC)
  • Others (Including Alkaline Fuel Cells)

Stacking

  • Planar Bipolar Stacking
  • Stacks with Tubular Cells

End User

  • Residential
  • Commercial
  • Industrial

Region

  • North America
  • Latin America
  • Europe
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa

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Stationary Fuel Cell System Market

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