BOULDER, Colo. — As the fuel cell industry makes the transition from the R&D stage to full commercialization, breakout applications are continuing to emerge and business models and market structures are evolving rapidly, notes Pike Research. Overall, the industry continues to expand, and the total size of the global market — including revenues from fuel cells and hydrogen — will reach $785 million in 2012, according to a new white paper from the firm.

One key market that is taking shape is the use of fuel cells for residential combined heat and power (CHP) applications, a market that is experiencing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 67.7 percent. Meanwhile, Pike Research expects that remote sensing will be the breakout market for small fuel cells in 2012, as they are well-suited for such applications as seismic monitoring. However, other sectors do not look as promising, according to Pike Research’s analysis — one example is the portable fuel cell market, particularly for consumer electronics applications, which the firm anticipates will suffer disappointment in 2012 after a recent renewal of hype for this sector.

“The fuel cell and hydrogen industries are once again entering a year of growth, as seen in the revenue projections for the first time surpassing three-quarters of a billion dollars, but market participants also face significant challenges,” said research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. “As well as growth in the current markets, we are also starting to see new markets emerging — including, in 2012, the remote sensing sector, with increasing demand for fit-for-purpose products from the fuel cell industry.”

Pike Research also predicts that renewables, storage, and fuel cells will converge in the off-grid power market.

Publication date: 02/20/2012