The global stationary fuel cells market size was valued at USD 4. billion in 2021 abd is expected to hit around USD 14.2 billion by 2030, growing at a registered CAGR of 20% during the forecast period 2022 to 2030.
Some of the key factors boosting the market are the adoption of distributed energy generation, various initiatives and favorable policies by governments supporting the use of sustainable energy. However, a conventional fuel such as oil or gas hampers the market growth of stationary fuel cells market.
An electrochemical cell that produces electricity through electrochemical reaction of hydrogen fuel with oxygen is known as fuel cell. Stationary fuel cells are fuel cells which are linked to an electric grid to deliver emergency and supplemental power or setup as independent grid generator for daily use. Fuel cells require a constant source of oxygen (air) and fuel to support the chemical reaction.
Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that transform chemical energy into heat and electricity through the oxidation of fuel (hydrogen, natural gas, or methanol). R&D in fuel cell technologies has led to a decrease in carbon emissions worldwide. Increase in population has resulted in high energy consumption, thus putting pressure on fossil fuel resources. On the other hand, governments of countries across the globe are focused on mitigating the impact of carbon emissions through the adoption of clean energy. This is expected to boost stationary fuel cell applications in the near future.
Driver and Challenge
The rising energy consumption due to the rapid growth in urbanization is driving the global stationary fuel cell industry growth. Currently, fossil fuel meets most of the power demands. However, it is harmful to the atmosphere. Thus, various countries across the world are making efforts in decarbonizing the power system, which has increased the demand for a clean and efficient power source. Fuel cells are highly efficient. Power is generated through an electrochemical reaction in fuel cells, which does not involve any combustion. The by-products from the process are water and heat, thus making fuel cells one of the cleanest power sources. Therefore, the growing adoption of stationary fuel cells will drive the market during the forecast period.
The high cost of fuel cells is challenging the global stationary fuel cell market growth. The adoption of fuel cells has increased gradually over the years owing to their higher efficiency and environmental benefits. However, their cost is relatively higher than alternative technologies such as gas engines or micro-turbine. Thus, manufacturers need subsidies to stay competitive in the market to reduce initial costs and increase adoption. However, subsidies would gradually reduce, which would make it necessary to increase investments in technology developed to reduce the overall cost. Such factors may limit the market growth during the forecast period.
Increase in Demand for Low-noise Alternatives to Combustion Engines Propelling Market
Stationary fuel cells use hydrogen as feedstock to generate energy, releasing nitrogen oxide as a byproduct. Stationary hydrogen fuel cells generate power without using any moving parts (e.g. piston used in generators), thereby generating lesser noise compared to incumbent technologies. Stationary fuel cell, on an average, produces 60dB sound on operation, which is quite low compared to conventional energy sources. Furthermore, fuel cells are compact and can reduce fuel consumption by at least 50% compared to other conventional backups with an internal combustion engine. These cells also produce lesser pollution vis-à-vis conventional power-generating sources. Stationary fuel cell power plant produces less than one ounce of pollution per 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. However, conventional power-generating sources produce up to 25 pounds of pollutants on consumption of the same amount of electricity. These vital characteristics of fuel cells act as one of the major driving factors of the market. Fuel cells also offer higher energy efficiency compared to other power-generating sources. According to a team of researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), usage of reformed hydrogen fuel is responsible for the delivery of high-energy density fuel cells. The energy density of hydrogen fuel cells is approximately 400 watt-hours compared to lithium-ion batteries with energy density of 150 Wh/l. This crucial high energy efficiency characteristic of fuel cells is another factor augmenting the market.
Rise in Preference for Fuel Cells Over Conventional Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries were better alternatives to lead batteries in the 1970s. However, over time, these batteries have lost their market share due to advancements in fuel cells. Lithium-ion batteries store electricity and dispense it whenever required. However, with aging, their charging capacity diminishes, resulting in the deterioration of the battery life. Overheating is another major drawback of conventional batteries.
Fuel cells can provide backup ranging from a short-term period to a long-term period of eight hours to three days. These cells are compact and can be integrated into various devices and appliances. Fuel cells are also known to operate at a temperature lower than conventional batteries. They deliver continuous power with less than a minute of maintenance in six years. These features make fuel cells reliable energy sources for backup power systems over conventional batteries.
High Efficiency, Stability, and Lower Cost Driving Adoption of Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
In terms of type, the global stationary fuel cell market has been segregated into Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel (PEMFC), Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC), Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell (MCFC), Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC), Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC), and others (including alkaline fuel cell). The solid oxide fuel cell segment held major share of 57.68% of the global market in 2021. The segment is estimated to dominate the market during the forecast period. SOFCs are electrochemical conversion devices that produce electricity through the oxidization of fuel. These fuel cells consist of solid oxides or ceramic electrolytes. They are used in large stationary fuel cell power plants due to their ability to function at high operating temperatures. The SOFC segment is expected to grow significantly in the next few years, owing to the high efficiency and stability and relatively low costs of SOFCs.
Decrease in Cell Resistance and Simple Design Augmenting Planar Bipolar Stacking Segment
Based on stacking, the global stationary fuel cell market has been classified into planar bipolar stacking and stacks with tubular cells. The planar bipolar stacking segment dominated the global stationary fuel cell market with 64.3% share in 2021. Planar bipolar stacking is the most common fuel cell stack design. In this stacking, individual unit cells are electrically connected with interconnects. Planar bipolar stacking provides an electrical series connection between adjacent cells, specifically for flat plate cells. It also provides a gas barrier that separates fuel and the oxidant of adjacent cells. The planar-bipolar stacking design is electrically simple and creates short electronic current paths, which help minimize cell resistance.
Regional Outlook of Global Stationary Fuel Cell Market
Asia Pacific accounted for prominent share of 57.11% of the global market in 2021. China, India, and Japan are expected to witness rapid growth in industrial activities along with expansion of the manufacturing sector in the near future. China is the largest automotive market in the world, with the presence of a larger number of fuel cell vehicles. Thus, demand for stationary fuel cells is high in Asia Pacific.
North America and Europe are also notable markets for stationary fuel cells. These regions held 22.9% and 17.4% share of the global market, respectively, in 2021. Growth of the market in North America can be ascribed to the implementation of stringent government regulations to minimize carbon emissions and the shift toward green energy. Middle East & Africa and Latin America are relatively minor regions of the stationary fuel cell market.
Based on Application, Combined Heat and Power (CHP) segment growth is constantly enhancing because, Combined heat and power (CHP) is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time. Trigeneration or combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heating and cooling from the combustion of a fuel or a solar heat collector.
By Geography, North America is anticipated to exhibit the considerable growth the construction and installation of fuel cell power by companies along with the declining cost of new/existing technologies, leading to increasing installation rates in this region.
Some of the key players in Global Stationary Fuel Cells market are Altergy, Ballard Power, Bloom Energy, Doosan PureCell America, FuelCell Energy, Fuji Electric, JX Nippon, Panasonic, Plug Power, POSCO ENERGY, Siemens, SOLID power and Toshiba.
Key Developments in Global Stationary Fuel Cell Market
• 0-1 KW
• 1-4 KW
• > 4 KW
• Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells (MCFCs)
• Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cells (PAFCs)
• Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC)
• Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC)
• Other Technologies
• Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
• Prime Power
• Secure Communications
• Telecommunications Network
• Other Applications
End Users Covered:
• Home Applications
• Power Generation
• North America
o Rest of Europe
• Asia Pacific
o New Zealand
o South Korea
o Rest of Asia Pacific
• South America
o Rest of South America
• Middle East & Africa
o Saudi Arabia
o South Africa
o Rest of Middle East & Africa
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