Pike Research projects FCV market share to increase sharply by 2015

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According to a new report published by Pike Research, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCV) are projected to capture an increasingly large share of the global passenger car and transit bus markets in 2015. FCVs, part of the continuum of electric drive technologies, will likely be adopted in Japan, Germany and California first due to planned infrastructure investments. The biggest challenges for this market are cost and infrastructure deployment.

By both weight and volume, hydrogen has more energy storage capacity than a lithium battery.  So compared to battery electric vehicles (BEV), FCVs have a longer range; are being incorporated into larger vehicle platforms; and can be refilled in less time.

"The interest for electric utilities is both that extending BEV range expands the pool of potential BEV customers, and also may allow drivers to leave their recharging until the overnight hours utilities prefer.  This could lessen the potential stress on the grid from having EVs charging at, say, 5 pm," said Lisa Jerram, the study's analyst.

 The technology should be of interest to utilities for another reason - an increasing interest in using hydrogen as energy storage to better utilize intermittent renewables. "One popular way to produce hydrogen is electrolysis, and there are several hydrogen infrastructure projects using electrolyzers at the fueling stations," said Jerram. "The key here is that the electricity has to be cheap enough to make this process economically viable.  That said, there are some electrolyzer companies focused on getting the electricity from a local renewable source - wind or solar - and not from the grid." 

Automakers have said they will produce commercial FCVs in the 2014 to 2015 timeframe.  "In the meantime, there is a real need to build up the infrastructure and affordable electrolysis would really help this," said Jerram. "Also further exploration of the potential to use hydrogen and fuel cells for renewables energy storage would be of interest."

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