During a first market analysis several years ago, Professor Birgit Scheppat from RheinMain University conducted extensive tests and evaluations of fuel cell stacks available at the time (see October 2010 issue of German-language magazine HZwei). On behalf of Hessen Agentur and in collaboration with the H2BZ initiative, she examined which challenges customers face
H2-international has recently asked manufacturers of fuel cell stacks not only about their systems’ technical specifications, but also about their opinion of current market developments. As only seven companies participated in the survey, the results may not be very indicative of where the entire market is heading. However, you can discern a few trends.
Last November, H2-international published a first market overview of residential fuel cell systems. This time, we will take a closer look at electrolyzers. To try and map the current situation on the electrolyzer market, we contacted 18 manufacturers, primarily from the German-speaking region, but also from across Europe and North America. Ten of them have sent us details on their electrolyzers. Nine of them have made it onto the product list; Diamond Lite and Proton OnSite provided virtually identical information.
Despite the fuel cell industry’s recent growth spurt, the market still looks like a pyramid. At the top, you will find the stack and system manufacturers which offer commercial products and have a clear understanding of the costs involved and the wishes customers may have. These businesses are either driven by policy, as in Japan, or the forces of a free market, like FuelCell Energy. But of the worldwide more than 200 stack and system providers, fewer than 30 have made it this far.
Heliocentris was founded in 1995 as a supplier of teaching materials. After a successful takeover bid for P21 in 2011, the company headquartered in Berlin, Germany, diversified its business activities and has since expanded its product portfolio to include hybrid power solutions for energy management, particularly for customers in the telecommunications sector. The expressed aim of the business – “Substitute diesel units by fuel cells” – has remained and has likewise sparked much investment in electrolysis systems.
November 2015 saw the publication of the Fuel Cell Industry Review 2015, including market data and analyses for 2015. Since 2014, a team led by E4tech had contacted fuel cell companies around the globe, aggregated their supply figures and can now show the latest trends in the industry, much as Fuel Cell Today had done before its survey came to a halt. The following will present some excerpts from the review.
The HyPulsion joint venture has now been owned in full by Plug Power since August 2015. As announced by the American (USA) company on July 27th 2015, it has acquired all of the shares in its former partner Axane, a subsidiary of the gases company Air Liquide. The New York-based manufacturer of fuel cells paid US-$ 11.5 m. for 80 % of the shares. In 2012, Plug Power and Axane joined forces to form HyPulsion, primarily with the goal of kick-starting the market for fuel cell forklift trucks. Andy Marsh, managing director of Plug Power, made the following comments: “We are now moving ahead with optimism to extend our presence in the European materials handling market. […] I am pleased that our collaboration with Air Liquide for the further development of the hydrogen sector in Europe is continuing.”
At first glance, the figures from some of the North American fuel cell companies by the end of March 2015 have proved to be disappointing. The reason that Ballard Power, Hydrogenics and Plug Power have come up with figures which failed to correspond to expectations are the high quarterly variations in relation to the accounting of orders which are complete as well as ones which are still being processed and settled. On the second glance