The overall solid oxide fuel cells market is still in its nascent stage with existence of several untapped applications. The most prominent concern for the industry growth is the high cost of manufacturing and elongated time for charging up. SOFCs are extensively being used for power generation as it acts a clean source of energy. Due to their higher efficiency as compared to other fuel cells, SOFCs stand the most lucrative chance for further development in the coming years. Subsequently, the market has emerged highly dynamic over the period of time. Some of the major companies operating in the market include Bloom Energy, FuelCell Energy, Aisin Seiki, Siemens Energy and others.
Categorization on the basis of technology includes tubular, planar and other SOFCs. Planar SOFC have the largest market demand on account of higher power ratio as compared to other SOFCs, despite high installation costs. Planar SOFC has the highest electrical efficiency that allows great potential for applications in military, leading to higher demand in the aforementioned application. Further segmentation on the basis of application includes transportation, military and portable energy purposes, as well as small & large stationery. Major SOFC application lies in military on account of portability and compact nature of these fuel cells. Power output is also higher and easier to achieve than other conventional solar cells, which is expected to positively impact the SOFC growth market during the forecast period.
High costs of commercialization and catalysts, as well as complexity in infrastructure establishment are expected to hinder the SOFC market growth over the forecast period. SOFC also requires high temperatures for activation of ceramic electrolytes in the device, which could lead to chemical and mechanical compatibility issues and longer start-up buffer time.
A general definition is that portable FCs encompass those FCs designed to be moved, including auxiliary power units (APU) of lower power. The portable applications range in the power requirement from 25 W to about 5 kW. These FC applications are mostly not driven by energy efficiency (see Table 1), but rather by reduction of noise and emissions, and enhancement in device operating time. Military applications are a special field of portable FCs applications.
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