The report, released today, claims that with technology innovation, fuel cell cars could form a third of all vehicles on the road within the next 40 years, increasing the value for the technology market by $30bn to $261bn a year by 2050. 

This scenario would also reduce global carbon emissions from vehicles by an estimated 260 million tonnes a year by 2050.

Carbon Trust claims that UK organisations are at the forefront of achieving breakthroughs in addressing the cost of polymer fuel cells – the main barrier to their wide scale deployment.

Current state-of-the-art polymer fuel cells are predicted to cost $49 per kW in automotive applications when manufactured at sale. However, Carbon Trust says that in order to be competitive, the cells must reach a cost of $36 per kW.

In order to achieve this, it is supporting five organisations including Imperial College and ITM Power, through its $10m Polymer Fuel Cells Challenge.

These organisations are tasked with reducing material costs, while increasing power density, reducing system complexity and improving durability.

An example of some of the progress being made is a stackable cell architecture that uses low-cost materials and manufacturing techniques. Designed by the Imperial College and University College London, it has breakthrough potential in terms of cost reduction.

The report shows that if this reduction in price can go further than $36 per kW, there would be a dramatic market expansion with 200 million more fuel cell vehicles being deployed by 2050, taking the total to around 690 million fuel cell vehicles.

Carbon Trust director of innovation and policy James Wilde said:”Our new analysis shows that the future is bright but innovation is essential to unlock the market potential by driving down the costs of new polymer fuel cells. The UK, through its leading companies, is in pole position to benefit from an expanded global market for fuel cell vehicles.”

Conor McGlone

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