11-01-05 The Fuel Cell Industry as it enters 2011

The Fuel Cell Industry as it enters 2011

Date publishedFormat
05 Jan 2011PDF (326 kb)

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Welcome to the first fortnightly newsletter of 2011 signalling both the start of a new decade and in September, the tenth anniversary of Fuel Cell Today.

The industry has advanced a long way in the past ten years, but instead of looking back, I'd like to take this opportunity to imagine how fuel cells could influence the coming decade.

The perennial celebrity of the industry, the light duty vehicle, stands a better than ever chance of realising its dream of commercialisation. 2015 is the target for a number of automotive companies to enter into mass production, and with ever tightening legislation worldwide, targeting zero emissions vehicles, I believe this concerted effort offers the best potential to date of placing tens of thousands of vehicles per year on the road from the middle of the decade. All the household names in the industry have been road testing and developing their vehicles through a number of iterations for many years, and have weathered the standard barrage of negative press including high cost and lack of fuel infrastructure. With careful selection of locations for early market penetration, issues surrounding infrastructure can be eased, and through subsidies and economies of scale, the problem of cost is not insurmountable. It's going to be an interesting next five years, to see how these plans pan out for the future of the light duty market.

Buses are continuing to show their potential for success at high profile events, and with test schemes around the world showcasing the technology this success is set to continue in the future. With well-defined routes allowing easy access to refuelling, the lure of zero emissions public transport is a strong driving force in this sector.

Portable systems continue to receive interest, but this is likely to remain led by the military and APU sectors, and for skid-mounted power generators. The miniaturisation and integration of fuel cells into consumer devices is likely to be critical for their success, because without that technological advancement, conventional batteries are likely to remain dominant in all but the most demanding and remote environments.

Meanwhile, the testing and field trials of stationary fuel cell systems are ongoing and if their successes in Korea and Japan can be grown and replicated globally, an abundance of potential remains for this technology. Unit sales for both mCHP and UPS systems in the hundreds of thousands per year could be expected towards the end of the decade.

In the news, December is typically one of the quieter times of the year, with festivals and holidays taking centre stage, however a few announcements have been worthy of note:

The US DOE stated it is accepting applications for funding fuel cells R&D to the tune of US$74 million. The funds are split into different areas such as research to improve catalysts and MEAs and also money available for an investigation into cost analysis for the fuel cell industry.

The Yamanashi prefecture in Japan announced the introduction of special measures aimed at easing the introduction of fuel cell vehicles in the region. Hyundai, GM, Mercedes-Benz and Honda all reported developments in their fuel cell vehicles ranging from testing of the latest vehicles, to cost reduction through sharing of components with electric vehicles.

Finally Ballard Power Systems announced it reached the milestone of producing its one-millionth MEA.

That's it from me for this newsletter, I am certainly optimistic about the potential for the next ten years, and I am looking forward to meeting you all at the various industry events throughout the year and celebrating FCT's tenth birthday!


Dan Carter     Manager



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Dr Dan Carter
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