The fuel cell industry, like many others, was hit by Covid-related issues. Supply chains creaked, factories had to run on reduced physically-present staff, and Chinese lockdowns were coupled with an uncertain policy framework to dramatically slow uptake in a country that had been an important driver for the industry from 2017-20.
The picture now looks much improved, as fuel cell companies continue to mature. Industry stalwarts such as Ceres, Doosan Fuel Cell, PowerCell and Bloom Energy show increasing order books, Ballard, Cummins and others continue building alliances, and new companies are emerging. For example, TECO 2030, a spin-out from marine specialist TECO, has come from nowhere (in fuel cell terms) and built a factory aiming to be able to produce 10MW of fuel cells in 2023, and eventually 1.6GW per year. Consulting firm AVL provided the know-how.
The automotive Tier One club, including EKPO and Symbio, have the capability to build multiple thousand stacks per year, as do others. And in 2021, Hyundai broke ground on a factory that should allow it to make 100,000 fuel cell engines per year by the end of 2023.
The applications considered viable for fuel cells also continue to grow, with both ZeroAvia and Universal Hydrogen making successful fuel cell flights, and increasing traction in maritime activities. More esoteric applications pop up from time to time, with fuel cell-powered speed cameras from Jenoptik enabling traffic monitoring even where power supply is limited.
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