A regenerative fuel cell uses oxygen and hydrogen for the production of water, electricity, and waste heat. In a regenerative fuel cell, the conversion of fuel cell reactants into products and reconversion of fuel cell products into reactants are the two stages involved in the process of producing electrical energy. This type of fuel cell can store extremely high specific energy as compared to the other fuel cells such as methanol fuel cell, polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) cell, and others. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the packed specific energy in RFC is up to 1,000 W-hr/Kg whereas that of nickel/cadmium (Ni/Cd) and Lithium ion (Li/ion) batteries is less than 100 W-hr/Kg.
Rising usage of regenerative fuel cells both commercial and non-commercially, owing to factors such as high reliability, environmentally friendly, and renewable energy conversion is one of the major factors that is expected to drive growth of regenerative fuel cell technologies market over the forecast period. RFCs have wide range of applications such as backup or emergency power generation, storage of energy for remote off-grid power sources, high-altitude, long-endurance solar rechargeable aircraft, and hybrid energy storage/propulsion systems for spacecraft.
However, high cost of operation and maintenance is restraining the growth of regenerative fuel cell technologies market. Furthermore, low availability of fuel and low durability of fuel cells, especially at elevated temperatures are factors negatively affecting the growth of RFC technologies market.
On the basis of product type, hydrogen oxygen fuel cell segment is expected to witness significant growth in global regenerative fuel cell technologies market over the forecast period. The hydrogen fuel cell does not emit green house gases or other pollutants into the atmosphere as compared to other fossil fuels, which is one of the factors expected to boost growth of the market. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is an agency of the U.S. federal government for the protection of environment, hydrogen fuel cells attain zero emissions and can achieve 40% to 70% efficiency when compared to conventional fuel cell which uses gasoline or diesel.
On the basis of application, spacecraft segment is projected to witness significant growth in the global regenerative fuel cell technologies market. Regenerative fuel cell technology offers large scale energy storage at specific energy level, which is expected to drive the growth of this segment. The researchers in Glenn Research Center (NASA) developed regenerative fuel cell concepts in 2005 for storing energy in the International Space Station (IIS), high-altitude aircraft, and balloons.
North America is projected to exhibit a significant growth in global regenerative fuel cell technologies market over the forecast period, owing to increasing demand for clean energy. The government of the U.S. is investing in clean energy to meet this increasing demand. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, investment in clean energy grew by over 4% compared to last year, globally and in the U.S., with an increase of 10%, the investment totaled US$ 45 bn in 2015. Furthermore, manufacturers are focusing towards developing manufacturing plants, in order to meet the increasing demand for fuel cells, thereby fueling growth of the market. For instance, in March 2017, Honda and General Motors (GM) developed a new hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing plant to produce advanced hydrogen fuel cells in the U.S.
Asia Pacific is expected to witness significant growth in global regenerative fuel cell technologies market over the forecast period. This is attributed to growing demand for RFCs in automotive vehicles, resulting in the growth of the automotive industry in this region. According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), in India, the automobile industry was valued at US$ 74 bn and is expected to reach US$ 300 bn by 2026.
Key players are focused towards adopting various organic and inorganic growth strategies such as mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships, product or technological innovations, and market expansion to retain position in the regenerative fuel cell technologies market. For instance, in April 2016, as part of the mass production design phase, ZincNyx Energy Solutions Inc., the subsidiary of MGX Minerals Inc., expanded its capacity of zinc-air fuel cell battery, which stores energy in the form of zinc particles and does not contain any high cost battery commodities such as vanadium, cobalt or lithium.
Some of the leading players operating in the global regenerative fuel cell technologies market include Hitachi Group, Infinity Fuel Cell and Hydrogen, Inc., Toshiba Corporation, UltraCell LLC, Sharp Corporation, and ZincNyx Energy Solutions, Inc., among others.
On the basis of product type, the regenerative fuel cell technologies market is segmented into:
- Alcohol Fuel
- Hydrogen Oxygen Fuel
On the basis of application, the regenerative fuel cell technologies market is segmented into:
- Solar Panels
- Automotive Vehicles
On the basis of end-use industry, the regenerative fuel cell technologies market is segmented into:
On the basis of region, the regenerative fuel cell technologies market is segmented into:
- North America
- Rest of Europe
- Asia Pacific
- South Korea
- Rest of Asia Pacific
- Latin America
- Rest of Latin America
- Middle East
- GCC Countries
- Rest of Middle East
- Northern Africa
- Central Africa
- South Africa
The companies operating in the regenerative fuel cell technologies are adopting strategic alliance such as product development and mergers & acquisition in order to maintain their position in the competitive business environment. In January 2019, Cummins Inc., Columbus-based company announced the acquisition of Hydrogenics Corp., hydrogen fuel cell market based in Toronto for about US$ 290 million.
Apart from this, in September 2019, Cummins invested in fuel cell technology firm Loop Energy. Loop energy is a provider of fuel cell electric range extenders for heavy and medium duty transport applications.
Furthermore, government bodies are also supporting the innovation in fuel cells technology, which is likely to upsurge the demand for regenerative fuel cell technologies. For instance, The Australian Federal Parliament started to provide significant support for hydrogen and fuel cell innovation. In January 2019, the body announced the commitment of US$ 784 million to supercharge Australia’s hydrogen industry in order to push renewable sector of the country.