The outstanding reliability and durability of portable fuel cells helps them steal the march over traditional power sources. Their high-energy security and efficiency make it easier for end users to transition to renewable energy sources.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (energy.frost.com), North American Portable Fuel Cell Market, reveals that the market earned revenues of $4.9 million in 2006 and estimates this to reach $48.7 million in 2013.
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As inherently clean and safe sources for the production of water, electricity and heat, portable fuel cells have been riding a crest since the North American government's declaration of several measures to promote 'green' energy sources. For instance, the extension of federal tax credits for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects considerably strengthen the market.
"Apart from legal mandates, several factors, including recent weather events, are increasing the rate of backup power adoption," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Lucrecia Gomez. "The portable fuel cell market is taking advantage of this trend and reinforcing its presence, especially in the telecom market by promoting its products' extended backup power and reduced maintenance schedules."
Portable fuel cells rank high above traditional power sources. This is due to their potential for increased energy savings and unique ability to address environmental degradation and energy security challenges.
Fuel cells considerably improve the quality of life as they provide an environment-friendly, quiet and highly efficient solution for generating electricity and thermal energy from natural gas and other fuels. They also help reduce pollutants that contribute to the greenhouse effect, whereas hydrogen fuel cells' emissions are negligible.
Fuel cells are a priority among many companies that require a cleaner and more reliable power source and are willing to pay a premium for these products. However, smaller customers require greater persuasion. To prevent the device from being limited to specialized use, developers must reduce the implementation cycles and costs.
While the total cost of ownership decreased tenfold from 2003 to 2006, capital costs are still prohibitive. Fuel cell companies experiment with various technologies, new chemical formulations and innovative materials to create a commercially viable product.
Participants also direct their R&D efforts to deliver a higher level of technical functionality. Although market majors shift to specific industries and verticals, it is vital to develop and expand the uses of fuel cells to stay technically ahead of competition.
"Developers are finding this difficult, especially with the number of vertical markets constantly increasing," notes Gomez. "With different industries competing for valuable development resources, prioritizing them is becoming increasingly important."
In an emerging market such as portable fuel cells, it is imperative to offer value-added services. Vendors should provide these services both intensively and extensively to make them seem like basic services. Meanwhile, manufacturers can improve the quality of service by focusing on the commercialization of smaller and portable generation units that offer limited risk.
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