Last year was the most successful for the fuel cell industry yet and shipments are poised to triple this year.
In 2011, shipments increased 39% to exceed 100 megawatts (MW), or 24,600 fuel cells, reports the Fuel Cell Industry Review 2012.
Fuel Cell Today projects that shipments will expand 61% this year to 78,000 units (176 MW) this year with growth across all sectors, led by consumer applications and energy storage.
The use of fuel cells to charge consumer electronics is growing rapidly and there's significant growth in small stationary systems, especially in Japan. Large stationary fuel cells are gaining traction in South Korea and North America.
The industry is growing largely because of its potential as an alternative source of power that helps companies reduce their reliance on the grid.
Government-led projects in Asia, Europe and North America have helped the technology reach a tipping point. Cost reductions, technological advancements and customer acceptance are making fuel cell technologies much more economically attractive.
Some forecasts call for the industry to reach $1.2 billion in revenue by 2014, despite the fact that many subsidies and incentives are expiring.
A growing number of US businesses are using fuel cells to help decrease their dependence on the grid or reduce power costs. One recent example involves six UTC Power PureCell systems being installed by CBS to power video production studios in Southern California.
Leading fuel cell players include UTC Power, which provides on-site generation for companies; FuelCell Energy, which is finding success with utility companies; and Bloom Energy, which is getting a lot of attention because of its ties to the high-tech industry.
eBay is powering a new data center completely by using Bloom Energy's fuel cells,
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