The global hydrogen fuel cell market continued to accelerate in 2013 and 2014 and the market is likely to reach $57bn (£37bn) annually by 2023, according to a new report from Navigant Research.
Rising demand in portable and transportation hydrogen fuel cell applications as well as stationary uses, such as utility-scale use in industrial and commercial buildings and residential power, drove the increase.
“Right now, the stationary sector of the fuel cell market is where we’re seeing the most interest,” says Lisa Jerram, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “In terms of fuel cell systems shipped, this area has the strongest global potential.”
Encouraging this potential is the power sector’s shift toward distributed generation, which means moving away from central power generation models to a more diverse and resilient grid infrastructure.
According to the report, however, the launch of commercial hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in 2015 and 2016 will bring the transportation sector to the fore. By 2023, the transportation sector is expected to command the largest share of the fuel cell market in terms of capacity shipped.
Many automotive companies have already created their first working hydrogen fuel cell cars. The Toyota Mirai went on sale in Japan last month and will be launched in Europe and the United States this year.
The new Toyota – called Mirai, a Japanese word meaning “future” – achieves maximum power well above 100kW from both its fuel-cell stack and its electric motor.
A four-door sedan, the Mirai has the cruising range of a conventional sedan, can be refuelled in less than five minutes and emits only water vapour when driven.
Hydrogen, stored under pressure in two tanks at 700 MegaPascals (700 bar or 10,000psi) is fed into the fuel-cell stack where it is combined with oxygen to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity to power the vehicle.
The system is more energy-efficient than internal combustion engines and emits no CO2 or pollutants when driven.
Toyota’s global president Akio Toyoda said the launch of Mirai is a turning point in the automotive industry – a new age where hydrogen is used as a fuel to generate electricity.
“The future has arrived – and it’s called Mirai,” Mr Toyoda said.
“We imagined a world filled with vehicles that would diminish our dependence on oil and reduce harm to the environment. It was a bold, but inspiring goal – and today it is a reality.”