Despite Nearing Commercial Market Introduction, Long Road Ahead for Fuel Cells, Says ABI

Many believe fuel cell technology holds the key to providing a renewable energy source, and companies will be demonstrating or debuting a variety of products featuring fuel cells in the next few years.

Many believe fuel cell technology holds the key to providing a renewable energy source, and companies will be demonstrating or debuting a variety of products featuring fuel cells in the next few years. However there are considerable performance and cost-related issues to overcome before the market gains traction, according to findings from technology research firm ABI.


"In the long term, fuel cells will provide a clean and renewable source of energy, but for product launches within the next few years, cost and technical issues will pose significant barriers for consumers," explains Daniel Benjamin, ABI analyst and report author. "Initial consumer fuel cell products will focus on stationary power generation and portable electronics. However, they may not function as well as the power systems they're replacing, yet will be more expensive."

Basic functionality issues must be considered with current variations of the technology. For example, in consumer electronic devices, a fuel cell cannot get too hot and must continue to function if it's shaken. A fuel cell vehicle must be able to travel more than 100 miles on a single tank of fuel. Fuel cells can't be marketed on their potential alone; they must function better, if not more inexpensively, than the technology they replace. Unfortunately, that is not the current state of the art but it may emerge in the near future.

According to the report's finding, the global fuel cell market will be nominal in 2004 despite multiple product introductions, but has the potential to reach $35 billion by 2013. Growth will be dependent both on improvements to the technology and the increased availability of hydrogen and methanol, the fuels utilized by fuel cells in the automotive and portable electronics fields, respectively. By 2006, new products utilizing fuel cells should deliver performance improvements and begin to sell in larger numbers.

The new report, Fuel Cell Industry Competitive Analysis: Assessment of Major Players, Global Markets and Technologies," provides an overview of fuel cell technology and markets with an emphasis in detailing the present efforts of key fuel cell players. The study provides growth projections by market through 2013, as well as potential revenues both in dollars and in unit shipments.

ABI is a N.Y.-based technology market research firm founded in 1990. ABI publishes market research and technology intelligence on the wireless, automotive, electronics, networking and energy industries. Details can be found on the web at abiresearch.com or by calling 516-624-3113.

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