Increase in environmental awareness among consumers helps the large fuel cells market make a case for itself. These fuel cells are immensely popular for being able to directly produce water, electricity or heat. They are also popular for uniquely addressing environmental degradation and energy security challenges.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (energy.frost.com), North American Large Fuel Cell Market reveals that the market earned revenues of $247.4 million in 2006 and estimates to reach $1.8 billion in 2013.
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By skipping the intermediate step of combustion, these devices provide a clean, quiet and highly efficient method for generating electricity and thermal energy from natural gas and other fuels. Moreover, the absence of mechanical devices such as turbines and pistons ensures that they run continuously for long periods and are far less prone to breakdowns.
Fuel cells facilitate the transition to renewable energy sources by offering energy security and high efficiency. Many companies are actively investing in these high-end systems for their ability to offer cleaner and more reliable power.
“Numerous mandates and regulatory directives have given renewed momentum to fuel cells development,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Lucrecia Gomez. “Several government measures, including the extension of federal tax credits to industries implementing projects that use renewable energy and energy-efficient devices, are also driving end users to seek fuel cell power.”
Researchers need tax credits, low interest loans and grants to sustain development efforts. They also need a solution to cope with financial challenges that constrain widespread distribution of hydrogen.
Manufacturers realize that even though the use of hydrogen for distributed generation can defer installation of expensive infrastructure, it can also reduce line losses and improve distribution reliability and utilization of distribution assets. Electric and gas utilities have also begun to recognize the benefits of distributed generation provided by fuel cells.
Apart from the budgets and complexity of implementations, fuel cells also need to address the issue of protracted installation periods, especially in the small- and mid-sized enterprise segment. Not only should participants reduce deployment cycles and costs, but also enhance product awareness using creative marketing strategies to succeed in the aggressive large fuel cell market.
“The intensity of competition is encouraging participants to continuously offer technically sound products and initiate new projects,” notes Gomez. “Technological successes are egging manufacturers on to develop fuel cells that can be used to produce thousands of megawatts, in much the same way that a power plant produces electricity today.”
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