Industry & Markets
The fuel cell industry is comprised of companies, universities, associations, and government agencies. It is a wide, global network of organizations that are involved at some point along the fuel cell distribution chain. Fuel cells are available for purchase today and the market is steadily growing. Early fuel cell market applications include power for materials handling equipment; backup power for telecommunication towers and data servers; and primary or backup power for retail businesses and commercial buildings.
In several applications, fuel cells are becoming cost-competitive with other power-generation technologies. Although the initial capital cost differential remains high, many companies are finding that fuel cell lifetime costs, including operating costs, are much lower than competing technologies. The many benefits that fuel cells provide – low-to-zero emissions, lower maintenance costs, high reliability, silent operation, faster fueling, and constant, high-quality uninterrupted power – also tip the balance.
The chart below highlights some of the major applications for fuel cells and their corresponding markets.
Companies choosing to install fuel cells are finding multiple pathways to financing. Where there is a large initial price differential, federal, and sometimes state incentives such as tax credits and grants, can help. Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) between fuel cell manufacturers and their customers have also made installation more affordable. Fuel cell providers and users say customers can expect a payback of three to five years, sometimes even less depending on the application, duty cycle, local energy prices, financing structure, and other variables. Once larger fuel cell markets are established, economies of scale in production will allow prices to fall further.
Visit our directory, the Fuel Cells Top 200, to see active fuel cell companies and their products. On the Industry Groups page, you will find national and sub-national organizations devoted to commercializing fuel cell technology.