BOULDER, Colo. — Annual shipments of fuel cell systems will grow rapidly over the next five years, from less than 29,000 in 2012 to more than 600,000 by 2017, according to a report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice. The market value of the fuel cell industry, including all applications in the stationary, portable, and transport sectors, is expected to reach $15.7 billion by 2017.

Though the fuel cell industry has been displaying encouraging signs in the last three years, it still faces significant headwinds, including the high costs for fuel cell stacks compared to existing technologies and a lack of customer awareness of the advantages of fuel cell technology. However, Pike Research believes the way has been paved for this market to take off.

“Due to a jump in orders in the first quarter of 2012, the industry is on target to surpass the billion-dollar mark by the end of 2012,” said research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. “The period 2014-2015, when the first fuel cell vehicles are expected to be rolled out, remains critical in terms of transitioning from a niche industry to starting to move into the mainstream.”

The stationary fuel cell sector continues to provide the foundation for the entire industry in terms of shipments, success stories, and decreased costs. The stationary fuel cell sector broke 20,000 systems shipped in 2011, according to the report, a significant jump over 2010. The area that saw the largest jump was combined heat and power (CHP), with residential CHP taking the lion’s share of the growth.

Publication date: 12/17/2012