The market for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells is expected to grow at a CAGR of approximately 15.28% during the forecast period of 2020 – 2025. Major factors driving the market are increasing research & development (R&D) activities in the field of the fuel cell, which has led to several technological advantages, such as high power density, less time to refuel, longer storage durability, and more number of life-cycles of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells over its alternatives, such as Li-ion battery. This has been driving the adoption of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell-powered vehicles. The adoption is also driven by government incentives and policies that are expected to boost consumer acceptance and higher investment from both public and private companies. The current cost of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell technology is a major barrier to commercial use, stationary, and transportation.
- Trucks and other heavy vehicles have become the most significant sector for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells during 2018. Also, the marine sector is expected to witness the adoption of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel in the coming years for supplying power to hotel operations during docking and for other purposes, mainly due to IMO’s emission regulations on the marine sector.
- There are vast opportunities offered, including the use of polymer electrolyte membrane-based fuel cells as replacements for internal combustion engines in light-duty vehicles and warehouse forklifts to increase vehicle efficiency and support the goals of reducing oil used and in turn, emissions from the transportation sector. This has resulted in a significant increase in the deployment of the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells in North America.
- Asia-Pacific is expected to dominate the global polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells market in 2019, with China holding the major share. The major factors attributing to the growth are the policies initiated by various governments in countries, like China and Japan, to drive clean energy usage.
Key Market Trends
Increasing Demand from Transportation Sector
- As the transportation sector accounts for one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, several countries in the region have been actively looking for the deployment of cleaner solutions, such as fuel cells based electric vehicles.
- The United States was the leader in the global fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) deployment worldwide, as of 2018, with approximately 4600 FCEVs being registered in the country. California leads the deployment, where the Zero Emission Vehicle Program has significantly supplemented FCEVs sales and is expected to remain the same in the coming years. As the demand for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells depends on the FCEVs deployed, the increasing deployment of FCEVs is expected to supplement the demand for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells.
- Automotive giants, such as Toyota and Hyundai, have also ventured into polymer electrolyte membrane stack cell technology in a bid to reduce the overall production costs of FCEVs. Such collaborative efforts by the government and industry players are expected to result in significant cost reduction of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells and FCEVs, and in turn, increase the demand for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells in the country.
- In 2018, Hyundai Motor and Beijing-Tsinghua Industrial R&D Institute (BTIRDI), signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), to establish a Hydrogen Energy Fund of value USD 100 million, to support the adopting of fuel cell vehicle in China, which is likely to drive the market for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells in China, in coming years.
- Countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands, and France, have also been taking notable steps to promote the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and fuel cells-based forklift and applications, such as data centers, in a bid to reduce oil consumption and GHG emission, which, in turn, is expected to supplement the demand for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells in the coming years.
Asia-Pacific Region to Dominate the Market
- The Asia-Pacific is one of the promising regional markets for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells in the coming years, on account of various governments' policies in China and Japan that are driving the clean energy usage like fuel cell technologies. Among the available fuel cell technologies, the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells are the most commonly used fuel cell in the region.
- In China, polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells are one of the major focus areas of the Energy Technology Revolution and Innovation Initiative (2016-2030). Companies such as Ballard Power Systems have already started developing strategic relationships in the country. For instance, the company had recently entered into a strategic collaboration with Weichai Power Co.Ltd to establish a joint venture to support the burgeoning FCEV market in China. The collaboration also includes a commitment by Weichai Power to build and supply a minimum of 2,000 fuel cell modules for commercial vehicles in the country and a USD 90 million technology transfer program to the joint venture-related to Ballard's next-generation LCS fuel cell stack and power modules for bus, commercial truck, and forklift applications in the country.
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government's (TMG's) plan to power several operations in the 2020 Olympic and Paralympics games, which will be held at Tokyo, using fuel cell technology, has further created ample opportunity for investment in polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells for the private sector.
- South Korea also has a strategic focus on increasing fuel cell vehicles' adoption in the coming years. For instance, in June 2018, the South Korean government and businesses agreed to invest some 2.6 trillion, won over the next five years, to proliferate the country's hydrogen gas-powered vehicle industrial ecosystem. It is expected that around 100,000 units of fuel cell cars will be deployed, and the installation of 210 hydrogen stations will be done by 2025.
- Other countries in the region, such as India, are also focusing on a road map for the use of hydrogen energy and fuel cell technology in the transport sector that is anticipated to create market opportunities for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell business in the near future.
The key players in the global polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells market is consolidated, with players, such as Ballard Power Systems, Plug Power Inc., Hydrogenics Corporation, ITM Power PLC, PowerCell Sweden AB, and Intelligent Energy Limited.
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