Energy Department reports continued growth of U.S. fuel cell market

New reports from the U.S. Department of Energy show the U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market continues to grow, helping increase affordability of clean energy technologies.

The Energy Department has released three new reports showcasing strong growth across the U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market – continuing America’s leadership in clean energy innovation and providing U.S. businessesmore affordable, cleaner transportation and power options. According to these reports, the United States continues to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. In 2012, nearly 80% of total investment in the global fuel cell industry was made in U.S. companies.

“Building a U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen technologies industry over the past few years is helping to pave the way to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future that protects our air and water, gives businesses more transportation options and reduces oil dependence,” says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “As part of an all-of-the-above energy approach, fuel cell technologies are paving the way to competitiveness in the global clean energy market and to new jobs and business creation across the country.”

With support from the Energy Department, private industry and the department’s national laboratories have already achieved significant advances in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies – reducing costs and improving performance. These research and development efforts have helped reduce automotive fuel cell costs by more than 50% since 2006 and by more than 30% since 2008. At the same time, fuel cell durability has doubled and the amount of expensive platinum needed in fuel cells has fallen by 80% since 2005.

Building on this progress, the Energy Department awarded over $7 million earlier this week to help bring cost-effective, advanced hydrogen and fuel cell technologies online faster. The three Energy Department reports issued detail continued strength in the U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market as well as efforts by U.S. businesses and states to increase American competitiveness in this growing global industry.

Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report

The Energy Department released the 2012 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report – detailing trends in the U.S. fuel cell and hydrogen technologies market.

The report highlights continued growth in fuel cell commercial deployments, including material handling equipment such as forklifts as well as combined heat and power systems and back-up and auxiliary power units. Nationally, U.S. fuel cell shipments grew from 1,000 units in 2008 to nearly 5,000 units in 2012, while domestic manufacturing increased by more than 60% from 2011 to 2012. Last year, the United States was also the largest market for fuel cell-powered material handling equipment – with 4,000  lift trucks and forklifts in operation across 19 states at U.S. warehouses distribution facilities and retail stores, including Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Lowe’s and Sysco, among others.

Research and development on light duty fuel cell electric vehicles continues to advance, according to the report, and several large automakers anticipate commercialization by 2017.

Earlier this year, the Energy Department launched a public-private partnership, H2USA, focused on addressing the challenges to hydrogen infrastructure to support more transportation options for U.S. consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles. The partnership brings together automakers, government agencies, gas suppliers and the hydrogen and fuel cell industries to coordinate research and identify cost-effective solutions to deploy infrastructure that can deliver affordable, clean hydrogen fuel in the United States.

State of the States Report

The Energy Department today also issued the States of the States, Fuel Cells in America 2013 report – highlighting leadership among U.S. states to grow domestic fuel cell manufacturing and deployment.

The report recognizes California, Connecticut, New York, Ohio and South Carolina for leading the country with continued and expanded support for fuel cell and hydrogen technologies – helping to reduce emissions, improve energy efficiency and create new job and business opportunities. The report also highlights efforts in Delaware, New Jersey, Texas and other states to advance fuel cell technologies.

Across the United States, a number of cities and towns are also driving continued U.S. leadership in the fuel cell industry. For example, San Diego has installed 2.4 megawatts of fuel cells and is using purified biogas from the Point Loma wastewater treatment plant to generate clean electricity for the city. In Spartanburg, SC, BMW’s production facility now hosts the world’s largest fuel cell material handling fleet to date. BMW recently added 175 more fuel cell pallet trucks and forklifts, boosting its fleet to 275 across the 4-million-square foot plant. The Energy Department has also partnered with the Houston Galveston Area Council to operate 20 heavy-duty hydrogen fuel cell electric hybrid trucks around the Port of Houston – helping to cut carbon pollution and save money.

Pathways to Commercial Scale

According to the third report, Pathways to Commercial Success: Technologies and Products Supported by the Fuel Cell Technologies Office, the Energy Department's fuel cell research and development efforts over the last decade have helped manufacture about 40 new commercial technologies in the United States, support 65 new technologies that are expected to reach commercial-scale within the next three to five years and issue more than 450 U.S. patents.  

Find more information on these three new fuel cell and hydrogen reports