Global fuel cell production up 40% in 2019
A fuel cell is a cell in which the generation of an electrical voltage is done by the oxidation on one electrode of a reducing fuel (for example hydrogen) coupled with the reduction on the other electrode of a oxidant, such as air oxygen.
Driven by the development of hydrogen vehicles, the fuel cell industry experienced a significant boom in 2019. With a production equivalent of 1.1 gigawatts (the sum of all the capacities of the batteries produced) to approximate 800 megawatts of 2018, it is a jump of more than 40%. In the firing line, the next cost reduction, given the rapidly expanding market.
The Japanese Toyota and the South Korean Hyundai alone represent two-thirds of the hydrogen vehicle market, the main catalyst for this development in the production of fuel cells. If we include, in addition to personal cars, buses, trucks and vans; car travel represents 900 megawatts of the 1,100 (1.1 gigawatts) produced in 2019.
The 2020s will see the ascendancy of the fuel cell
Asia remains the largest market for fuel cells, with 680 megawatts, strongly stimulated by the sales of the Hyundai Nexo in Korea. Fuel cell vehicles deployed in Asia in 2019, including trucks and buses in China, account for 50% of the total capacity of fuel cells shipped worldwide. The United States represents a combined produced power of 384 megawatts. With its 69 megawatts, there is still a long way to go in Europe.
The significant increase in fuel cell systems produced in recent years responds to the growing demand for energy while preserving the environment. However, the repeated slippage in the start date of mass commercialization of this technology demonstrates the existence of locks that need to be identified and then resolved. The main limitations of current fuel cells are:
- Fuel (production, storage, distribution in complete safety with control of the effect on the environment)
- The cost of critical components and the integrated system
- The performance and durability of existing products
For a quarter of a century, and due to their energy and environmental performance, fuel cells have experienced spectacular development.
The diversity and modularity of these technologies make it possible to reach all fields of application from energy “microsources” for portable applications to the production of megawatts for powering electrical networks.
But what about the impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on the fuel cell market?
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