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The strong growth prospects of fuel cell products are creating prerequisites for the success of Finnish enterprises operating in the sector. For example, the commercial breakthrough of fuel cells in mobile working machines is anticipated to take place this year.
The fuel cell product market has continued on a major growth path despite the economic slowdown. In 2009 there was a global increase of 50% in the deliveries of fuel cell products to a total of 25,000 products supplied, with their total market value reaching around USD 500 million. The biggest demand in the market in 2009 was for fuel cell-powered toys and mobile power units for vehicles such as caravans and boats. In terms of number of items, these accounted for around 40% of all fuel cell deliveries in the market, and this strong growth is continuing in 2010.
"It looks like we'll see the delivery of around 45,000−60,000 fuel cell products this year. In terms of market value this would mean around USD 700 million. This year fuel cells are likely to break through in working machines, such as forklifts, and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) and building-specific power units just like was seen in 2009 in toys and mini chargers," says Professor Emeritus Pauli Jumppanen from PJ Consulting.
This trend is promising from the perspective of Finnish enterprises as the sector's leading companies in the country specialise in mobile working machines, mobile power units employed in leisure applications, and fuel cell solutions for power plants. Professor Jumppanen anticipates the boom in the fuel cell market to continue at least for the next few years. "Investments made under Finnish government programmes will ensure growth in the fuel cell market for at least the next three to five years. After that market growth will depend increasingly on investments made by private enterprises," he says.
Programme outcomes brought together under Demo 2013 Launched in 2007, the Tekes Fuel Cell Programme has resulted in EUR 50 million having been invested in fuel cell development, with the Tekes contribution accounting for around EUR 30 million of the total. The seven-year programme has provided funding for 46 research and enterprise projects. "Focal areas in the latter half of the programme are fuel cell technologies suitable for distributed generation of power, fuel cells that can be employed in working machines and other vehicles, and small printed fuel cells that are used as power sources in contexts such as packaging and medical applications," says Tekes Fuel Cell Programme Manager Heikki Kotila.
The programme's spearhead project, Demo 2013, aims to create a collaborative demonstration facility for noiseless and emission-free energy applications developed in cooperation with international partners during the programme. Located in and around Helsinki's new Vuosaari Harbour, Demo 2013 will showcase applications from electricity and power production to mobile working machines, light vehicles and reserve power. "The demonstration is unique as an eco-efficient area like this where many applications are used at the same time has never been seen before anywhere in the world," says Fuel Cell Programme Coordinator Anneli Ojapalo.
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