Advancements in technology through research and development, coupled with the declining prices of fuel cells, are expected to further promote the market for fuel cells going forward. There are six main fuel cell technology types: proton exchange membrane fuel cells direct methanol fuel cells, phosphoric acid fuel cells, molten carbonate fuel cells, solid oxide fuel cells and alkaline fuel cells. Among the various types, PEMFC is currently the most popular with regards to unit shipments due to its suitability for use in both small and large scales and wider acceptance across various applications.
In terms of megawatts (MW), however, the three most popular types are split amongst PEMFC, MCFC and SOFC, where the contribution from the latter two is mostly due to their use in the stationary sector in large-scale prime power plants. In fact, it was estimated by FuelCell in their “Industry Review 2013” report that MCFC was expected to overtake PEMFC in 2013 for the first time in terms of annual MW shipped with about 43% of the annual total.
The main public company commercializing molten carbonate fuel cells is FuelCell Energy (FCEL), which designs, manufactures, sells, installs, operates, and services its fuel cells mostly in stationary power markets for distributed generation and combined heat and power (CHP). The company has sold hundreds of megawatts of its Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants, which produce electricity and heat electrochemically using various fuels such as natural gas, methanol, diesel, biogas, coal gas, coal mine methane, and propane.
The company markets its products to electric utilities, commercial and industrial companies, universities, municipalities, government entities, and other customers around the world. It currently operates plants in approximately 50 locations worldwide, and has strategic partnerships with POSCO Energy (Korea), Enbridge Inc (Canada), Abengoa (Spain), and NRG Energy (US).
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