European fuel cell market will be more than €50 billion by 2040

The fuel cell market in Europe will reach nearly €48 million (£30 million) by 2008, with revenues expected to rise very rapidly to over €18 billion (£11 billion) by 2020, and €52 billion (£33 billion) by 2040, a new report has predicted.

Currently the main competitive arena for fuel cells is in research and development, explains Tif Awan, co-author for a new study by international market research consultants Frost and Sullivan, with the market’s revenues reaching €3.2 million (£2 million) for this year. According to Awan, the race for supremacy in the fuel cell powertrain market has already begun. “For companies choosing to be at the forefront of this revolution in automotive powertrain technology, research and development will be imperative, it is where the long term competitive advantage will be created,” he said.

The majority of European vehicle manufacturers have fuel cell development programmes currently under way. “Perhaps the most significant programme is Xcellsis,” said Awan. “This joint venture was set up by Ford, DaimlerChrysler and the fuel cell company Ballard Power Systems to produce fuel cell engines.” The organisation is set to deliver 30 Mercedes fuel cell buses for commercial use as early as the end of next year, he said.

There are still a number of problems that stand in the way of commercial production of fuel cell vehicles. “The road to mass market depends on numerous considerations. Cost, for example,” said Awan. “The current cost of a fuel cell engine is in the region of €750 (£470) per kW, compared to around €20 (£12.5) per kW for an internal combustion engine.” Technology and infrastructure are also identified as key challenges.

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