There are now more fuel cell micro-CHP systems installed in homes and businesses than traditional engine-based products.
This is a key finding of the latest sector forecast from Edinburgh-based industry analysts Delta-ee, which finds that, for the first time, cumulative global sales of fuel cell sized products (≤5.5kWe) have surpassed those of their engine-based counterparts
The market is being driven by a strong regulatory push to accelerate deployment of fuel cell products in Japan – the world’s largest market for micro-CHP – from incentivisation via subsidies that favour their higher efficiencies and lower emissions compared to engine-based products.
The approach is now being followed in Germany, Europe’s main micro-CHP market, where the introduction of a similar programme in late 2016 means a customer installing a fuel cell product can claim up to €9,000 in grant support for an average size system.
It is an exciting time for the fuel cell industry and has led to the introduction of several new products. Manufacturers will now look to capitalise on the generous level of financial support in Germany to drive further cost reductions of their products, enabling them to compete with other forms of low-carbon heating in other markets.
The global installed base of micro-CHP systems now exceeds 350,000 units. The annual sales of fuel cell products have outstripped engine products in every year since 2013 – meaning that fuel cells now account for most of the installed base. Fuel cells are now a proven and established technology found in many thousands of homes around the world – not an exotic concept or confined to R&D labs, as sometimes portrayed in Hollywood movies.
A spokesman for Delta-ee said: “Looking to the future, we see an increasing stratification in the market. Fuel cells will dominate in the sub-1kWe segment (single family homes) but engine products will have a strong position in the larger customer segments (multi-family homes and small commercial) due to their much lower costs and greater range of product types, sizes and configurations.
“Micro-CHP enables consumers to heat their homes and simultaneously generate low carbon electricity that can be used within the home or exported to the grid. It can save consumers money and contribute to Europe’s transition to a low carbon economy, whilst also supporting the growth of renewables, heat pumps and electric vehicles, by better balancing supply and demand and helping to stabilise the electricity grid.”