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.