Techno-Economic Challenges of Fuel Cell Commercialization

Junye Wang, Hualin Wang, Yi Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

226 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As resource scarcity, extreme climate change, and pollution levels increase, economic growth must rely on more environmentally friendly and efficient production processes. Fuel cells are an ideal alternative to internal combustion (IC) engines and boilers on the path to greener industries because of their high efficiency and environmentally friendly operation. However, as a new energy technology, significant market penetration of fuel cells has not yet been achieved. In this paper, we perform a techno-economic and environmental analysis of fuel cell systems using life cycle and value chain activities. First, we investigate the procedure of fuel cell development and identify what activities should be undertaken according to fuel cell life cycle activities, value chain activities, and end-user acceptance criteria. Next, we present a unified learning of the institutional barriers in fuel cell commercialization. The primary end-user acceptance criteria are function, cost, and reliability; a fuel cell should outperform these criteria compared with its competitors, such as IC engines and batteries, to achieve a competitive advantage. The repair and maintenance costs of fuel cells (due to low reliability) can lead to a substantial cost increase and decrease in availability, which are the major factors for end-user acceptance. The fuel cell industry must face the challenge of how to overcome this reliability barrier. This paper provides a deeper insight into our work over the years on the main barriers to fuel cell commercialization, and discusses the potential pivotal role of fuel cells in a future low-carbon green economy. It also identifies the needs and points out some directions for this future low-carbon economy. Green energy, supplied with fuel cells, is truly the business mode of the future. Striving for a more sustainable development of economic growth by adopting green public investments and implementing policy initiatives encourages environmentally responsible industrial investments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-360
Number of pages9
JournalEngineering
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2018

Keywords

  • Cost analysis
  • Durability and reliability
  • Energy security
  • Energy storage
  • Fuel cells

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