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Pike forecasts worldwide revenue from fuel cells and hydrogen will reach $785M million in 2012; interest in fuel cell vehicles re-emerges

The total size of the global hydrogen and fuel cell market—including revenues from fuel cells and from hydrogen for fuel cells and internal combustion engines (ICEs)—will reach $785 million in 2012, according to a new white paper from Pike Research.

The white paper describes ten key trends for the hydrogen and fuel cell industry in 2012. In addition to the projected $785M in global revenue, one of the trends Pike identifies is a re-emergence of interest in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) as the limitations of battery-electric vehicles are realized. That interest, however, will be unlikely to result in rollouts of trial vehicles this year, Pike suggests.

With the continued disappointment in the price of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and a rate of adoption lower than initially forecast, Pike Research forecasts that 2012 will start to see a return of interest in fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Such interest will be seen mainly in regions that have been showing commitments to hydrogen infrastructure. This means that Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Europe in general will show greater interest in FCEVs than the United States.

Automakers have resolutely stuck to their forecasts of the initial rollout of FCEVs between 2013 and 2015. Therefore, 2012 will be the year when increased movement related to stabilizing the supply chain and ramping up the PR machine should be expected. In terms of numbers of on-the-road FCEVs, however, 2012 will unlikely to see any rollout of demonstration trial vehicles.

—“The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industries: Ten Trends to Watch in 2012 and Beyond”

A commercial rollout of FCEVs in 2015 will require the opening of a number of major new hydrogen refueling stations. Pike suggests that more than ten such stations—centered on projected areas of initial sales—will likely open, each with the capacity to refuel more than a thousand vehicles daily.

Pike points to the launch in the United Kingdom of UKH2Mobility (earlier post) as indicative of the return to interest in FCEVs.

A key market that is taking shape is the use of fuel cells for residential combined heat and power (resCHP) applications, a market that is experiencing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 67.7%. Meanwhile, Pike Research expects that remote sensing will be the breakout market for small fuel cells in 2012, as they are well-suited for applications including dam monitoring, seismic monitoring, wildlife monitoring, weather stations, and others.

However, other sectors do not look so promising, according to Pike Research’s analysis—one example is the portable fuel cell market, particularly for consumer electronics applications, which the firm anticipates will suffer disappointment in 2012 after a recent renewal of the hype in this sector.

The fuel cell and hydrogen industries are once again entering a year of growth, as seen in the revenue projections for the first time surpassing three-quarters of a billion dollars, but market participants also face significant challenges. As well as growth in the current markets, we are also starting to see new markets emerging—including, in 2012, the remote sensing sector, with increasing demand for fit-for-purpose products from the fuel cell industry.

—Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director

Pike Research 10 trends to watch in 2012
1 The resCHP market will gather momentum
2 Rhetoric and reality will diverge in the hydrogen energy storage market
3 Flight to third-party countries for manufacturing will increase
4 Hype will be followed by disappointment in the portable fuel cell sector
5 Interest in FCEVs will reemerge as the limitations of BEVs are realized
6 Buyouts and corporate investments in both fuel cells and hydrogen will continue
7 Remote sensing will be the 2012 breakout fuel cell market
8 Renewables, storage, and fuel cells will converge in the off-grid power market
9 Energy service company (ESCO) and independent power producer (IPP) tie-ups with utilities will increase
10 Fuel cell and hydrogen industries will generate $785 million in revenue during 2012




"Interest in FCEVs will reemerge as the limitations of BEVs are realized."

I do not agree, once people see they can commute with EVs given chargers at work, Starbucks and McDonald's to increase range and lessen anxiety, we will be off to the races.


Meanwhile, Pike Research expects that remote sensing will be the breakout market for small fuel cells in 2012, as they are well-suited for applications including dam monitoring, seismic monitoring, wildlife monitoring, weather stations, and others

Has it come to this? The fuel cell is well suited to Wildlife monitoring? Probably a good application....clearly hydrogen fuel cells RIP as a way of helping provide energy for cars.....

By the way, what happened to the Honda FCX - this article from 2005 - 7 years later?

Maybe the Honda FCX can be used as a weather station and to monitor wildlife?


'In terms of numbers of on-the-road FCEVs, however, 2012 will unlikely to see any rollout of demonstration trial vehicles.'

I suppose it is far too much to expect 'Pike Research' to do any research for their research aka advertising copy?
Checking up on information publically available on the internet, for instance?

'Hyundai plans to beat Toyota's announced $50,000 price tag and deliver the world's first series production fuel cell vehicle in 2012, with 500 FCVs coming off the line that year and more afterwards.'

If they want to send me $1,000 I will send them my research.
It is far more accurate than theirs.

Alan Parker

"I'm interested to buy" FCEV - but then since they won't be available to buy, and even if they were there won't be anywhere to refuel, all the interest in the world will mean nothing.

I also doubt very much that Hyundai will 'release' their FCEV this year, they seem to have a few problems even with their hybrid. Mind you I guess 500 cars is not really a 'release' anyway. I'm not a Hyundai hater BTW - I currently own one and happen to like it!

Bob Wallace

All we need is roughly a 75% increase in battery capacity and fuel cell cars are toast. (Secretary Chu is saying that we're going to get that and more in the next few years.)

Battery prices have apparently already fallen, just not reflected in 2012 model prices as purchase contracts were set at previously higher prices. We should see noticeable price drops with the 2013 models.

Over a 12 year lifetime Nissan Leafs are already cheaper to own and operate (without subsidies) than a 30MPG $20k ICEV. (12k miles per year, $4/gallon gas, $0.08/kWh electricity.)

Bring the purchase price down a few thousand and the market will start rapidly switching.

If someone can purchase an EV for only a modest larger monthly cost during the loan payoff period and drive all day with only a couple <20 minute recharge breaks it's going to be very, very difficult for FCEVs to disrupt that market. Why would one pay significantly more for a car that has so little more utility? What's one extra stop during infrequent all day drives?


BTW, anyone notice that the lithium titanate oxide batteries in the Lightening GT are rated at 25,000 deep cycle recharges? With a 150 mile range that makes them 3,750,000 mile batteries.

And they fully recharge in less than ten minutes.

That's a battery good for the life of the car and then very valuable to after market users for grid storage.

Bob Wallace

Follow up on lithium titanate oxide batteries.

Apparently this is the technology Toshiba uses for its SCiB batteries which are used in the Honda FiT EV. They rate their batteries at 4,000 cycles. In the 120 mile range FiT that makes them 480,000 mile batteries.

The SCiB batteries that Toshiba makes for laptops are rated at 6,000 cycles.


Titanate are good, but only 100 Wh/kg, this makes them too big and heavy for EVs, but good candidates for PHEVs. EnerDel, Altairnano and others make titante as well.

Chad Snyder

I'm sorry, Bob, but it's complete nonsense to speculate what real world battery costs are today. Commodities markets are driven by supply and demand. Today we're producing enough batteries to supply less than a percent of world auto demand.

That simply isn't enough to extrapolate future prices. Supply chains just aren't that simple.

Likewise, VW claims the EPA battery numbers have no basis in the real world. Maybe that's just because VW et al is anti-hybrid, but their opinion is more relevant than yours -- no offense.

Furthermore, there are more in the battery game -- researchers, analysts and the companies themselves -- such as Continental AG -- that claim any battery profit is at least a decade away, compared to those claiming the future is here, especially ones that don't work for the government.

Ultimately,, until the industry is producing millions of EVs per year, minimally, talking about costs is just plain silly.

Case in point rare earths. Just like China, Chile, Bolivia, etc. could make lithium prices much higher through various policies, such as ones aimed to push more battery manufacturing in-country.

And the above still doesn't include automaker costs. Pretending that today's EV prices mean anything moving forward is equally ridiculous. Today's EVs are subsidized not just by the government, but automakers themselves. Take away pickup truck sales and the profit margins needed from EV sales to sustain a US-based automaker need to grow immensely, especially if you add in past R&D costs and future ones.

Chad Snyder

Also, the Prius C is a 53 mpg hybrid that will start below $19,000, and doesn't have the range limitations of an EV, nor does it need 12 years to recover its costs compared to a pure gas-guzzler.

Based on essentially every consumer study i've seen, i think most consumers will eventually start there -- if sustained gasoline prices finally force them to take action.

but a 12 year payback? please.

also, i look forward to the day that the fuel cell industry makes many a fuel cell hater look a fool, something i guarantee will happen.

fuel cells aren't the solution. instead, it will be fuel cells and batteries that ultimately kill off gasoline. if you can't accept that possibility, you just aren't paying attention to the science.


Fuel Cell Hater !!!

I haven't seen many of those around. What often gets pointed out here is - considering the current state of the art - Fuel Cells are not yet ready for prime time. The reasons are many and varied and have been covered in minute detail here numerous times.

We don't have to get emotional about a largely technical issue.

Bob Wallace

Chad - "complete nonsense"?

"Better Place, the company currently building car-charging and battery-swapping networks in Israel and Denmark, is purchasing batteries for cars at $400 per kilowatt hour for delivery in early 2012, according to company executives. Better Place and IBM held an informal dinner briefing with reporters last night in San Francisco."

That's an August, 2010 report. With all the new manufacturers that have come on line I'm pretty comfortable speculating that we're likely going to be under $400 for the 2013 models.

Lithium - don't forget that we're now getting back into the lithium productions business here in the US. Australia and Canada are also producing lithium. There are too many players in the game for significant price-jerking.

Toyota/Tesla is building EVs that contain no rare earth elements.

Nissan claims that they are not losing money with their Leaf EVs.

Here's what the CEO of GM had to say about Volt price a year ago...

“The Volt is going to see significant cost reductions,” Akerson said without mentioning whether this will equate to sales price reductions.

“We look at cost per kilowatt-hour. There are 16 kilowatt-hours on a Volt. When I first came, it was over $1,000 per kilowatt-hour. The number is roughly half that today,” Akerson continued. “We are going to make about 10,000 this year [for U.S. consumption] … We overproduced on our track by 30 in September. I’m watching this. … And we hope to hit 60,000 next year [for U.S. and overseas markets]. The real cost savings begin to hit next summer, early fall … “"

Bob Wallace

And Chad, it's about a 9 year break even based on today's gas and electricity prices. Leaf vs. 30 MPG, $20k ICEV. Over 12 years a Leaf owner is going to spend about $40 less per month.

Gas is almost certainly going to increase in price. Electricity, with TOU metering/billing and more wind coming on line, is likely to fall in price. At least very unlikely to increase.

The Prius is slightly cheaper to own and operate than the un-subsidized Leaf (about $25 per month) but that won't hold as battery prices come down and gas prices go up.


Now, will fuel cells become super cheap, much cheaper than batteries? Possibly, but I see no signs of that happening in the next several years.

Don't forget, with fuel cells (assuming you're looking at hydrogen as the fuel) you've got to accept a significant energy loss in order to 'crack' water into hydrogen and distribute the hydrogen. The 'fuel' for EVs is bound to be cheaper. Run fuel cells on something like biofuel and the price is going to be even higher.

If you've got the choice of an EV with adequate range why would you pay the same or more for a FCEV that would cost more per mile to drive?

We could see some PHEVs using fuel cells rather than ICEs if the price (and life expectancy) of fuel cells gets really attractive, but we're a long, long way from cheap fuel cells that might operate for a 100,000 miles or more.

Bob Wallace

SJC - Honda is using lithium titanate oxide batteries in their Fit EV.

The one driving review I read does talk about the car being a bit heavy, but Honda seems to think they are acceptable.

If we're looking at a 'city' car where most driving is start/stop/straight ahead then they might be fine. I suspect that in the short term car companies are going to make progress in cutting vehicle weight as a way to offset battery weight and increase range. Or same range with less batteries as a cost saver.

The rapid charge ability of lithium titanate oxide batteries makes them very interesting for limited range EVs. Yes, you might be limited to 70-100 miles but you could do an almost total recharge in under 20 minutes. I would think that would be a very functional vehicle for many drivers.


Titanate can be used in EVs, but maybe better used in lighter cars like the Fit. If you have the space and can carry the weight they are fine.

EnerDel makes titanate and carbon types. They specify the titanate for HEV/PHEV and the carbon for EVs. Honda has made their choice and I would say they made a good one for their cars based on cycle life.

Titatate can take a quick charge and discharge, they have good cycle life and seem like a good choice for EVs if you have the space and weight carrying capability and/or you do not need that much capacity because the car is light.


What is Honda going to do with all those Fit EVs once they come back from their leases?.. the batteries will be practically brand new..


That means the depreciation should be less so the lease cost should be less so more people can afford them and use them. It is all good in this case.


In case your daily commute is less than 40 miles who cares what range extender you have for ocasional daily trips - whether it wil be large battery, super FC or conventional small ICE. Just cost of this ocasional trip should be minimum (both investment and fuel wise). I see no point fighting for the battery range. The major issue is batttery cost and overall vehicle cost which would make them competitive to pure ICE vehicles.


If I was going 30 miles each way to work, I would just want a charger at work or quick chargers at fast food, malls or Starbucks for a 10-15 minute charge to get home. I would use that seldom, but it is good to know it is there.

Bob Wallace

Better Place has the technology to do rapid battery swaps. It's being installed in Israel and Denmark and Renault is building the EVs for the system.

No other EV manufactures* are including swap ability in their EVs.

Might we use that information to predict that most EV manufacturers see affordable, longer range batteries available in the near future?

(*Tesla has swappable batteries, but I suspect that's so owners can upgrade their packs for more range.)


The Leaf with quick charging would be fine, but 70 mile range is not. IMO if they get the range up to maybe 140 miles at 70 mph with quick chargers at every McDonalds and Starbucks, it would work. People worry that they will be stranded, but if they have a quick charger every few miles, no problem.

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