13-09-11 Fuel Cell Today at Twelve

Fuel Cell Today at Twelve

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11 Sep 2013PDF (551 kb)

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13-09-11 Fuel Cell Today at Twelve

On 11th September 2001 Johnson Matthey launched Fuel Cell Today. A website designed to inform the fuel cell industry, potential stakeholders and the public with free, objective and reliable information on fuel cells, their markets and the companies developing them, its aim was to aid the commercialisation of the technology. Twelve years on and the fuel cell industry has come on leaps and bounds: products are selling into a number of commercial applications and some of the world’s most important companies are adopting the technology. The market introduction of fuel cell vehicles is the year after next and a number of fuel cell companies are edging ever nearer to profitability. So as Fuel Cell Today reaches twelve, it seems appropriate to reflect and look at twelve key developments from the last twelve months.


September 2012 – Honda confirms its commitment to a 2015 FCEV launch

On 21st September 2012 Honda’s President and CEO, Takanobu Ito, held a press conference at which he reiterated his company’s plans to release next-generation fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV), which he considers to be “the ultimate environmentally-responsible vehicle”. The vehicle will launch “sequentially in Japan, the US and Europe from 2015.” As makers of the iconic 2008 FCX Clarity – unique as one of the only FCEV designed from the ground up as an FCEV – it will be exciting to see what Honda has in store.


October 2012 – Viessmann acquires 50% of residential fuel cell developer Hexis AG

Viessman, the German multinational boiler manufacturer and HVAC industry giant, announced in October 2012 that it was to acquire 50% of Swiss residential fuel cell manufacturer Hexis AG. Hexis’ solid oxide fuel cell technology offers high electrical efficiencies and has been designed in a manner that will allow for low production costs with increased manufacture. After extensive testing in the Callux project and further testing due in the ene.field project, Viessmann will help to bring the system to market. Such an established heating brand offering a fuel cell product should help raise the profile of the technology in Europe and convince customers of the technology’s suitability.


November 2012 – FuelCell Energy receives the fuel cell industry’s largest ever order

Continuing their long relationship, FuelCell Energy’s partner in Korea, POSCO Energy, placed an order for 121.8 MW of fuel cell kits in November 2012 – the largest ever for both the company and the fuel cell industry with a value of $181 million. POSCO Energy has been building ever-larger fuel cell ‘power parks’ with the latest under construction a 58.8 MW installation in Hwaseong. Thanks to an exceptionally attractive legislative climate for fuel cells in the country it continues to be the dominant market for fuel cells in terms of megawatts installed.


December 2012 – London’s latest skyscraper will be fuel cell powered

London’s ‘Walkie-Talkie’ skyscraper at 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London is to be powered by a 300 kW FuelCell Energy MCFC. One of three major skyscrapers currently under construction in the City of London, the building will use its fuel cell in CHP mode to provide electricity and heat; the high-temperature heat will be used in an absorption chiller for air conditioning and the lower-temperature heat will provide facility heat and hot water.


January 2013 – ClearEdge Power acquires UTC Power

As it transitions from an R&D-led industry to a commercially-driven one, the fuel cell industry is experiencing an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions. The most significant in the last year has been United Technologies Corporation’s decision to divest UTC Power to ClearEdge Power (CEP) in a move to focus more strongly on its core competencies of aerospace and building systems. The handover was unusual as UTC Power was several times larger than CEP. The acquisition brings a wealth of experience and a large customer base to CEP, who had previously only marketed 5 kW small stationary systems.


February 2013 – Hyundai commences assembly line production of fuel cell vehicles

Over the last two years Hyundai has emergent as a significant force in the world of fuel cell electric vehicles. Whilst others are waiting until 2015 to manufacture appreciable volumes of cars, Hyundai is determined to get an early foothold in the FCEV market and in late February 2013 began assembly line production of its ix35 Fuel Cell in Ulsan. The company will manufacture 1,000 of the vehicles before 2015 to satisfy early market demand before ramping up to up to 10,000 vehicles per year, dependent on demand. This marks the first time an FCEV has ever been mass produced.


March 2013 – Volkswagen returns to fuel cells with Ballard engineering services contract

In March 2013 the Volkswagen Group signed a major engineering services contract with Ballard Power Systems to advance development of fuel cells for use in powering vehicles for VW’s fuel cell research programme. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world’s largest automakers and its renewed interest in fuel cells is an exciting development, particularly for the European market.


April 2013 – World’s first Megawatt PEM Electrolyser for E.ON power-to-gas facility

With an increasing penetration of renewables on global electricity grids the need for energy storage has never been greater. The potential of hydrogen as a flexible energy storage solution that can complement the variability of renewables is beginning to be understood by major energy players such as E.ON. The scalability of electrolyser technology is key to this market’s success and in April 2013 Hydrogenics announced that it will be deploying the world’s first 1 MW PEM electrolyser stack for an E.ON energy storage system in the City of Hamburg, Germany. Achieving megawatt scale in a single stack paves the way for future multi-megawatt systems. In May 2013, Fuel Cell Today published a full-length report on the concept, ‘Water Electrolysis & Renewable Energy Systems’.


May 2013 – H2USA hydrogen infrastructure project launches

As automakers prepare to commercialise FCEV a number of markets have launched hydrogen infrastructure feasibility projects. Following on from German, UK and French project launches, H2USA launched in May 2013 with the support of the US Department of Energy (DOE). Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson said “Fuel cell technologies are an important part of an all-of-the-above approach to diversify America’s transportation sector, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase our competitiveness in the global market. By bringing together key stakeholders from across the U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen industry, the H2USA partnership will help advance affordable fuel cell electric vehicles that save consumers money and give drivers more options.”


June 2013 – Fuel cell forklifts continue to impress in North America

Fuel cell forklifts were a niche first popularised thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which saw capital costs of Plug Power systems subsidised. This attracted many high-profile customers across North America, including Walmart, Whole Foods and BMW, who are now placing unsubsidised repeat orders. As of June 2013, BMW is operating the world’s largest fuel cell forklift fleet at its 4.0 million square foot Spartanburg, South Carolina plant. 275 of the units service X3, X5 and X6 assembly halls. BMW is aiming to be the most sustainable car manufacturer in North America and is also considering the use of methane from a nearby landfill site for hydrogen production to fuel its fleet.


July 2013 – Fuel cell micro-CHP outsell conventional micro-CHP for the first time

Thanks to the surging popularity of the Ene-Farm residential fuel cell programme in Japan fuel cell based micro-CHP systems outsold engine-based equivalents for the first time in 2012, accounting for 64% of sales according to industry analysts Delta-ee – a doubling of the technology’s market share since 2011. This is a product of increasing consumer awareness, lower costs and a public desire for self-generation following electricity blackouts caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear shutdowns. With large-scale trials commencing in Europe, we expect this market share to increase further over time. 


August 2013 – Bank of America Merrill Lynch begins leasing fuel cells

In August 2013 Bloom Energy announced the launch of a new leasing programme with Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA Merrill) for business customers to finance Bloom Energy installations. The programme streamlines customer deployments of Bloom fuel cells and eliminates the need for an upfront capital investment. Such a recognised name getting behind fuel cell technology will be good for continuing public perception and major banks such as BofA Merrill have the resources to potentially catalyse a large number of installations. The leasing scheme comes as part of a $50 billion environmental business initiative from the bank.


These developments give just a taste of the ongoing progression of the fuel cell industry over the last year. Our 2013 Industry Review will examine the year in greater detail, including units shipped and megawatts installed across the world. Fuel Cell Today will be presenting the Review for the first time at f-cell in Stuttgart from 30th September to 2nd October.


Jonathan Wing     Market Analyst




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