Balancing act between commercialisation and project business

FC output delivered annually by application type 2015 to 2019 (megawatts) (f: 2019 includes a projection for the fourth quarter (forecast))
FC output delivered annually by application

The new Fuel Cell Industry Review 2019 with market data and analyses was published in January 2020. Since 2014, E4tech’s team has been contacting fuel cell companies worldwide to build it, aggregating their supply figures and creating an independent annual reference point on the current state of the fuel cell industry. Some excerpts are presented below.

The sales market for fuel cell systems continued to grow in 2019. Although unit sales have remained at the level of around 70,000 for some years now, the much more important indicator is the output delivered. This correlates with the fuel cell areas produced and thus with the sales and manufacturing capacities achieved. According to the preliminary figures for 2019, this figure again grew strongly: From around 800 MW in the previous year to over 1,100 MW. The final figures for 2019 will be published in the Review 2020. However, it is considered certain that for the first time we can talk about one gigawatt market per year, a not unimportant psychological signal in times when there is considerable talk of Gigafactories.

A total of over one hundred companies were contacted as part of the annual industry survey and the responses compared with publicly accessible data and, where necessary, supplemented. It is important to note that in the transport sector the completed vehicles are counted, but not the FC modules.

The trends from previous years are solidified in the current figures. The growth of the industry continues to be primarily attributable to transport applications. Between 2014 and 2019, their share of the overall market grew from 20 to 80 percent, measured in terms of the megawatts delivered. This development is mainly attributable to the strategic investments made by the car manufacturers Toyota and Hyundai. The Koreans have outstripped the Japanese in the current year and have already sold almost 4,000 Nexo models in the first ten months. This contrasts with 2,200 Toyota Mirai in the same period.

For the year as a whole and together with the other providers, around 7,500 new FC passenger cars are expected in 2019. This vehicle segment alone thus contributes 750 MW to the preliminary total figures for 2019, representing almost three quarters of total sales. This growth of over 50 percent in unit numbers and megawatts is primarily attributable to Hyundai. In contrast, many of the other market segments have hardly changed substantially.

read more in H2-international February 2020

Franz Lehner, David Hart
both E4tech, Lausanne/Switzerland

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