Adoption of fuel cell powered products is gathering increasing momentum from a wide variety of sectors. The shift from an R&D-based industry to a fully commercial one is well underway but has not been without its setbacks. The reasons for the groundswell of interest are as varied as the sectors that the technology is becoming embedded into. Whether it is the desire to future-proof a home, roll out off-grid mobile base stations in rural Africa, decarbonize transport, clean up ports, reduce energy dependence on oil producing nations, or to increase the resilience of energy networks, fuel cell technology is one of a suite of solutions that is being utilized. The first annual Pike Research, Boulder, Colo., Fuel Cells Annual Report analyzes the state of the global fuel cell industry, its key barriers and drivers, where the industry could be in 2017, and why 2015 is shaping up to be such a crucial point for the industry. This report is produced from extensive industry interviews as well as the Pike Research fuel cell forecast model.

Between 2008 and 2010, according to the report, the fuel cell industry experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27%. Although this is lower than some industry commentators would have liked to see, this increase belies the fact that within this a number of companies have shifted into profit per unit status. Company-level profitability is still elusive, but the necessary first step of making a profit on each unit sold has now been taken by a handful of industry players. The stationary fuel cell market was the only one of the three meta sectors that posted an increase, with both the portable and transport sectors experiencing decreases in units shipped between 2009 and 2010. This decline was due to a number of factors, including a false dawn in the consumer electronics sector, fuel cells for light duty vehicles and buses still being released in batches in the market, and the slow recovery of some applications from the global recession. In terms of breakout applications in 2010, the market for remote monitoring units came out of the shadows and started to log adoption.