Last year was the most successful year to date in the history of fuel cells with annual megawatts shipped exceeding 100 MW, according to the Fuel Cell Industry Review 2012.
The report says annual fuel cell system shipments (excluding toys and education kits) in 2011 were 24,600 — growing by 39 percent compared to 2010, and led by increases in the stationary power sector.
The industry review forecasts that annual fuel cell shipments will triple between 2011 and 2012, surpassing 78,000 units, and annual megawatts shipped will increase 61 percent, reaching 176 MW this year.
In 2012, it expects increases across all application categories with significant growth in small stationary fuel cell systems, particularly in Japan.
The report says the most dramatic growth in 2012 system shipments will occur in the portable sector, with the widespread commercial release of fuel cell chargers for consumer electronics, including the myFC PowerTrekk and the Horizon MiniPak. This will result in a seven-fold increase of portable fuel cell shipments from 6,900 units in 2011 to 50,500 units in 2012, it predicts.
Additionally, the report forecasts that large stationary fuel cell power deployments in South Korea and North America will boost the annual megawatt figure, with both markets experiencing rapid growth. It says the stationary market saw 160 percent growth from 2010 to 2011, as FuelCell Energy and Bloom Energy expanded in both markets, and predicts 2012 growth of almost 50 percent over 2011.
Three major suppliers — Bloom Energy, UTC Power and FuelCell Energy — dominate the US market, according to the review. It says FuelCell Energy also supplies fuel cells to POSCO Energy in Korea, which is the county’s dominant supplier of large fuel cell systems.
In June, Bloom Energy and eBay announced a partnership to install 30 Bloom Energy fuel cell units in the Internet auction site’s Utah data center. When the 6 MW project is completed in mid-2013, the companies say it will be the country’s largest non-utility fuel cell installation and will only use grid electricity as a back up.
Also this summer, UTC said CBS Studios will install six of its PureCell stationary fuel cell systems with a total capacity of 2.4 MW at two production locations in California. In April, UTC announced that the News Corporation headquarters in New York City would install a PureCell system to provide hot water and electricity for its TV studios.
FuelCell Energy and Air Products, a supplier of industrial gases, are working to develop fuel cell power plants that can simultaneously produce hydrogen. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding to work towards the market development of the Direct FuelCell tri-generation megawatt-class plants, which would also produce electricity and usable heat.
A Pike Research report published in August says the global fuel cell industry posted a compound annual growth of 83 percent from 2009 to 2011. The firm forecasts the fuel cell industry will reach $15.7 billion by 2017.