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HYSYDAYS<br>1st World Congress of Young Scientists on Hydrogen Energy Systems

ISBN:
1-56700-230-7 (Print)

ECONOMICS AND MARKET PROSPECTS OF PORTABLE FUEL CELLS

Paolo Agnolucci
Policy Studies Institute 100 Park Village East London

Abstract

Portable power is the "next big thing" in the fuel cell industry. Consequently, expectations for new products are very high. This paper analyses the market for portable fuel cells, i.e. portable generators and microfuel cell, on the basis that demand for these technologies will depend on the demand for portable power and for the products likely to be powered by portable fuel cells. After considering projections of the costs of fuel cells, conclusions on the business models of the main actors in the portable fuel cell sectors are drawn. Perhaps because there has been a great deal of imprecision in defining costs and benefits of portable fuel cells, market forecasts have been in some cases extremely optimistic. It is found out that fuel cells will hit the market later than previously envisaged and that they are not likely to become popular through the hybridisation with batteries, i.e. portable charger. Although microfuel cells will very likely become a mass−marketed product, they need first to become an ordinary one and this will happen only when users will not be able to distinguish between electronic devices powered by fuel cells and those powered by batteries, with the exception of the different amount of energy supplied. Otherwise, portable fuel cells will be confined to a small niche of power-thirsty professional users.