Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stationary fuel cell power: estimated future prices

Fuel cells presently require an order of magnitude cost reduction to become a commercial success in domestic energy markets. Previous analyses using learning curves have shown that competitive costs are feasible, but these have been unanimously based on theoretical estimates.

The empirical price data is presented by the authors (see reference) for polymer electrolyte fuel cell CHP systems installed in Japanese homes between 2004 and 2008. Experience curves are fitted to this data, taking account of the number of systems produced before and during this period. The average unsubsidised price of a 0.7–1.0 kW system is ¥3.33 M (€23,000) as of early 2009, and has fallen by 19.1–21.4% for every doubling in production.

These empirical experience curves predict that prices will fall below €10,000/kW once 60–90 thousand units are sold; but that tens of millions of units are required before they reach cost targets of around €1000/kW. Even with rapid deployment, attaining unsubsidised economic viability before 2025 will be challenging.

Counter view:
Notwithstanding the views of the authors, it should be noted that there are hundreds of fuel cell power systems working right now. They were purchased for a variety of reasons, some reasons were economic reasons. Therefore the statement that "fuel cells presently require an order of magnitude cost reduction to become a commercial success" is debatable. To obtain more details, visit the links below.

Ref: Estimating future prices for stationary fuel cells with empirically derived experience curves, I. Staffell, R.J. Green, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Volume 34, Issue 14, July 2009, Pages 5617-5628

Fuel cell power systems working:

Sierra Nevada
Sheraton San Diego
Pepperidge Farm

Watch video:

Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC)

Fuel Cell CHP

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