Pike Research reports fuel cell market getting big boost from military

In a new report to be released by Pike Research in 3Q of 2011, the military fuel cell market is expected to reach $1.2 billion by 2017, as military users are the world’s most demanding customers for fuel cells.

Question is, will military spending for fuel cell development finally provide the needed support to advance automotive applications by the same year?

According to the news release by Pike Research, this is up from the present $9 million spent on fuel cells. Thus, fuel cell manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to benefit from an increased U.S. military emphasis on energy security and logistical efficiency associated with the complex and challenging operational conditions being encountered in remote wartime environments such as Afghanistan.

For the record, Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. The company’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Smart Grid, Smart Transportation, Smart Industry, and Smart Buildings sectors.

Their reports are not free. For example, Pike Research’s report, “Fuel Cells for Military Applications”, examines the stationary, transport, and portable power applications for fuel cell technologies currently being explored and validated by the U.S. Department of Defense, including a detailed analysis of market drivers as well as potential barriers to adoption. The fee for the complete research is $3800.

Forecasts through 2017 are also provided for those technologies and applications that are deemed as offering a realistic possibility of being deployed within that timeframe. However, an Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website page, Executive Summary - Fuel Cells for Military Applications.

The reason the military is getting involved is this: An almost complete dependence on a fragile and commercial power grid and other national critical infrastructure places military and homeland defense missions at an unacceptably high risk of extended disruption. Think about soldier wearable and portable power, sensors and surveillance, stationary power, materials handling, APUs, and UAVs.

These factors are leading the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and other military agencies to explore fuel cells as an increasingly important part of their energy strategy.

Bottom Line for Automotive

Throwing money at a problem doesn’t always solve the challenges to an equivalent degree. However, many barriers that are considered formidable can be overcome, especially for automotive down the road. For example, fuel cell manufacturers in their pursuit of the military market are facing the same challenges as the automotive market, like cost, durability, supply chain shortfalls, fuel availability, and serviceability.

Still, military users are the world’s most demanding customers for fuel cells and, while they will be less price sensitive than the commercial market in the near term, their performance and production scale requirements may ultimately prove too high a hurdle for some vendors to overcome. Yet, just coming close will be a technological and cost-saving boon to automotive.

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via authorfrank.com. He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]
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