Fuel cell spending worldwide -- including research and development funding and investment in fuel cell enterprises, as well as commercial sales -- is projected to grow to $9.4 billion in 2013, rising at an 11% annual pace according to The Freedonia Group.
The commercial narket for fuel cells -- including revenues associated with prototyping, demonstration and test marketing activities, as well as actual product sales -- will more than triple to $1.9 billion in 2013 and almost triple again to $5.1 billion in 2018.
Market gains will be stimulated by ongoing technological advances, helping drive costs down to competitive levels in a growing number of applications, and supported by improved economies of scale as fuel cell manufacturers ramp up production.
Although market gains are projected to be strong for most applications, virtually all of this increase will be attributable to an explosion in portable fuel cell
systems demand, which is expected to account for 98% of all unit sales in 2018.
Fuel cells used in electric power generation applications will account for less than one percent of the total number of systems sold in 2018 but will continue to make up the largest single share of demand in value terms.
Electric power generation fuel cell sales will be stimulated by the relatively low hurdles they have to overcome to achieve cost competitiveness and their much greater fuel efficiency compared to conventional power generation methods.
The motor vehicle market will lag overall fuel cell sales growth. Most automotive-related fuel cell demand will continue to consist of revenues generated from the sale of products and services associated with prototyping, demonstration and test marketing activity.
Proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are the most widely used, and they will strengthen their dominant market position over the next decade. More organizations are working to develop and market PEM systems than any other single fuel cell chemistry, which will help boost demand as additional PEM products are introduced. However, sales of direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) will rise at a faster rate through 2018. DMFCs can extract hydrogen from methanol without the need for a reformer, making them highly suitable for powering small electronic devices where a reformer would add unwanted bulk.