Many countries in the Asia Pacific region aim to have 8–20% of renewable energy in their energy mix by 2020 to 2025, making the region an attractive option for the implementation of renewable power generation sources and, thereby, the development of stationary fuel cells.
So run the conclusions of a report from Frost & Sullivan: Asia Pacific Fuel Cells Markets, which finds that the stationary fuel cells segment earned revenues of $142 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $1.9 billion in 2015.
The fuel cells market is currently holding on to its market position mainly on the strength of government subsides, incentives, and favourable policies. The eventual adoption of the fuel cell as the power source of choice will depend on how aggressively and effectively local governments market it, says F&S. ‘As with any other new product, the initial costs of technology, low end-user awareness, and the lack of a proven track record of continuous and reliable operations restrict the degree of adoption of fuel cells,’ says Frost & Sullivan Program Manager Irina Sidneva. ‘However, given the technical qualities of the product, the application potential for fuel cells is enormous.’
In Japan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is running a millennium project on automotive and residential fuel cell markets. In 2009, the emphasis of the third phase of the project is on the commercialization of fuel cells – on creating positive market conditions to motivate mass adoption. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE) in South Korea is supporting extended trials and diffusion of the product to stimulate wider uptake. While ANZ and several SEA countries are still in the planning phase of fuel cell technology rollouts, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are actively developing fuel cells R&D capabilities. In SEA, the pride of place goes to Singapore, with its government striving to position the country as a regional hub for fuel cell technology R&D and application.
However, reports F&S, the demand is still limited from most other countries due to inadequate assistance from the regional governments and the high initial costs of the technology. Moreover, fuel cells have an added disadvantage of competing with mature products such as diesel and gas engines, generator sets, and batteries.