BOSTON, May 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The desire for
zero-emission power generation has seen solid oxide fuel cells
(SOFC) touted as a possible solution. SOFC's capability to run on
hydrogen and at a higher efficiency than alternative fuel cells
when providing combined heat and power (CHP) is an enticing
prospect, while fuel flexibility allows for a transition from
hydrocarbons towards zero emission power generation as part of the
hydrogen economy. The real question, though, is that with many
opportunities for stationary power sources, which applications are
key to the success of the solid oxide fuel cell industry?
The new IDTechEx report, "Solid Oxide Fuel Cells 2023-2033:
Technology, Applications and Market Forecasts", provides a
comprehensive overview of the solid oxide fuel cell market,
including an assessment of the key technology trends, major players
and also includes granular 10-year market forecasts for solid oxide
fuel cell demand (MW) and market value (US$), segmented by
application areas. IDTechEx projects the market value to reach
US$6.8 billion by 2033.
Due to high operating temperatures, ramp up/down times can be
long for solid oxide fuel cells, while the associated large change
in temperature can lead to degradation of ceramic components,
specifically is there is a mismatch of thermal expansion
coefficient between neighbouring components. As such, SOFCs are
best suited to applications where continuous power output is
required, and utility-scale power generation is one such market
sector. Use of the generated thermal energy to provide heat and hot
water to nearby facilities adds to the appeal of the overall
system. The IDTechEx report details OEMs providing SOFC systems for
zero emission utility scale power generation, partnerships that
have been established with utility providers and key examples of
Similar to power generation for utility companies, SOFCs are
well suited for utilization in commercial and industrial (C&I)
applications where continuous operation is likely. Grid
independence allows companies to operate with reliable power
generation, even during power outages. A clear example of this
ability can be seen with Walmart utilizing SOFCs provided by Bloom
Energy to ensure supermarkets can remain open at all times, 24/7.
An advantage for SOFCs in C&I applications is the ability to
operate in CHP mode, enhancing efficiency with respect to competing
alternative fuel cell technologies and providing heat directly to
the commercial or industrial space. On the other hand, another
energy-intensive application is data centers and telecommunication
networks, but in these cases, CHP is not required as overheating of
the servers is the main cause for concern with respect to
temperature control. For this reason, several players have stated
to IDTechEx that they will not pursue power generation for data
centers as a viable application area for their SOFCs.
For on-grid residential applications, a suitable choice for
backup power would be lithium-ion batteries charged from the grid.
Batteries are more readily available and at a cheaper price point
than low-power SOFCs. A drawback is the longer start-up time and
few possible cycles for solid oxide fuel cells. With connection to
the gas network, SOFCs can supply CHP on a continuous basis.
Pairing with batteries allows a buffer to intermittent demand in
residential applications. Japan is
the most mature, and largest, market for residential CHP SOFCs.
Off-grid operation, with on-site gas storage coupled with a SOFC
can provide continuous power. The possibility of running the fuel
cell in reverse (rSOC), powered by renewables such as solar, and
producing hydrogen on site is an intriguing concept – allowing the
fuel cell to then run on this generated fuel. However, the hydrogen
must be stored on-site, a much less convenient fuel than a
hydrocarbon. Off-grid applications are a small market with
approximately 0.1% of people in high income countries living
So, what is the future of the solid oxide fuel cell market?
Partnerships have been announced for high volume manufacturing, due
to come online within the next five years, with different companies
targeting varied applications. In other cases, such as vehicles
(including marine), limited success for SOFCs is expected, with
alternative fuel cell technology (PEM) set to dominate. IDTechEx
has produced granular 10-year market forecasts for the global SOFC
demand (MW) and market value (US$) segmented by application area
based on historical data and first-hand company interviews.
For more details on the SOFC technology, market trends, and key
and emerging players, see the IDTechEx market report "Solid Oxide
Fuel Cells 2023-2033: Technology, Applications and Market
For more information on IDTechEx's other reports and market
intelligence offerings, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/Research.
IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its
Research, Subscription and Consultancy products, helping you profit
from emerging technologies. For more information, contact
research@IDTechEx.com or visit www.IDTechEx.com.
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