Report: Fuel cells could hit it big in 2011

A new study released by Pike Research indicates that fuel cells – hydrogen-powered devices that generate electricity – could be poised for significant growth this year, especially when used for auxiliary power units (APUs) on commercial trucks and other vehicles

A new study released by Pike Research indicates that fuel cells – hydrogen-powered devices that generate electricity – could be poised for significant growth this year, especially when used for auxiliary power units (APUs) on commercial trucks and other vehicles.

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Pike noted that the the fuel cell industry is growing even in the wake of the global economic recession, with the sector’s overall revenues exceeding $750 million last year.

Markets such as uninterruptible power supplies, residential combined heat and power (CHP), power for remote monitoring equipment, APUs, and portal power for military applications, have all experienced an increase in traction over 2010, said Kerry-Ann Adamson, the firm’s research director

“Fuel cells are finding a place in an increasing number of commercial applications, and 2011 is shaping up to be a big year in terms of market development,” Adamson stated. “Industry consolidation is a trend that has been long anticipated, but will only accelerate during the course of the year. In addition, new issues have sprung out of nowhere in the past year such as concerns over supply of rare earth metals.”

Adamson added that the issue of government intervention vs. free market development will continue to simmer as different countries’ economic policies diverge on matters of fuel cell development. And she added that new markets for fuel cells are continuing to come to the fore as the economics of adoption, both direct and indirect, continue to be tipped in favor of the technology.

Per the Pike report, several key trends to watch for 2011 and beyond include the continuing growth and deployment of fuel cell vehicles, the rising influence of Japan and Korea in the global fuel cell industry, but also “rare earth” restrictions that will be an obstacle to fuel cell adoption.

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