According to the latest findings by Frost and Sullivan, the stationary fuel cell systems market is expected to take off when the first series of micro combined heat and power (CHP) systems is launched.
By 2005, total revenues are estimated to stand at around $200 million. Unit sales are projected to triple, from more than 130,000 systems in 2008 to over 400,000 units by 2011, marking a rise in revenues from $1.5 billion to approximately $3.2 billion.
‘With a potential of a large portion of the residential boiler market to be replaced, micro CHP will grow into the largest single market segment for stationary fuel cell systems,’ explains Klaus Huhn, Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
‘Boosted by the support of both utilities and boiler manufacturers, co-generation is poised to replace conventional heating systems to an increasing extent,’ he said.
The second largest area of application for stationary fuel cell systems is likely to be baseload CHP, and this is expected to prompt a breakthrough in the market for small-scale onsite co-generation.
The onus of market acceptance of fuel cells, however, hinges on how fast developers can deliver reliable and affordable systems.
Proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology was expected to achieve a quantitative edge over competing technologies in the market. This was anticipated to be based on its particular suitability for small-scale systems, especially micro CHP, as well as the developmental support extended by powerful utilities and multinational corporations.
Thanks to their superior electrical efficiency however, solid oxide (SOFC) and molten carbonate (MCFC) technologies are more likely to steal a march over PEM technology when it comes to larger base-load applications.