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The global membrane electrode assembly market size was USD 0.34 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with membrane electrode assembly witnessing a negative impact on demand across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a lower growth of 12.3% in 2020 compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The market is projected to grow from USD 0.42 billion in 2021 to USD 1.70 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 22.1% in the 2021-2028 period. The rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.
The membrane electrode assembly provides sites for chemical reactions occurring inside a fuel cell to convert the fuel into usable electrical power. The assembly includes a gas diffusion layer, 5-layer membrane, and 3-layer membranes, gaskets, or sealing components. These components are fabricated individually and then pressed together at high temperatures and pressures and are in the form of stacks. The performance and stability of fuel cells largely depend on the preparation method of the assembly components.
The membrane electrode assembly serves various applications such as electrolyzer, proton-electron fuel cell, hydrogen or oxygen air fuel cells, direct methanol fuel cells, and others. The growing focus on adapting clean energy and reducing CO2 emissions has propelled the commercialization of membrane electrode assemblies.
Limited Investment Opportunities amid COVID-19 to Impede Market Growth
A global emergency such as coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has significantly dented various commercial and industrial operations across the globe. The aftermath of this crisis has also left the economies of various fast-growing countries in turmoil. Nearly all the nations across the world have observed a steep increase in the number of the affected population since the beginning of the current year. The unavailability of any cure or vaccine for the viral infection during the initial stages has led many industry professionals and players to introduce several combat measures to mitigate the impact continuously. Besides, the implications of the pandemic crisis have revealed different types of problems such as shortage of operating staff, deficits in operating incomes, the shutdown of various plants, constrained global trades, and many more, specified by their nature of operations.
Accordingly, the global market has also been moderately affected by the outcome of this unprecedented situation, as various countries have experienced a considerable loss in the total workforce in the various sectors. The unavailability of the skilled workforce coupled with long-spanning shutdowns of manufacturing plants has resulted in a limited output of fuel cells & electrolyzers, hampering the industry growth. For instance, in June 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) stated that the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles observed a significant boost before the COVID-19 crisis in 2019 and early 2020s. However, the developments across the industry are now susceptible owing to an unimpressive demonstration of technologies coupled with interruptions in the timelines of low-carbon production projects.
Major renewable and fossil-based energy-producing countries such as China and the U.S. have taken stern actions to impede the growth of the novel coronavirus. Various governments across all the regions have presented stringent action plans to contain the spread of infection. For example, in March 2020, different state administrations across the U.S. announced a lockdown protocol affecting various residential, commercial, and industrial procedures. During the month, different cities & states, including San Francisco, California, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Louisiana, and many more, implemented stay-at-home orders to limit the population’s exposure to the virus.
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Rising Initiatives of Reducing Harmful Emission is Propelling Market Growth
The imposition of various international standards for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has turned the attention of various automotive manufacturers to new technologies related to electric, hybrid vehicles, or fuel cell vehicles. As a result, several manufactures are developing new environmentally friendly technologies for the automotive sector. For instance, In October 2020, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CISR) and KPIT industry has successfully developed an automotive-grade LT-PEMFC fuel cell stack and successfully ran its trail on a hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) prototype car. The company has brought expertise in stack engineering, including a stack assembly, system integration, control software, electric powertrain, and other components that will enable fuel cell vehicle running. The company believes that using hydrogen fuel cell technology to generate electrical energy will cut the emission of harmful gas that will play a key role in future mobility and is expected to be commercially viable.
Moreover, In February 2020, Hyundai Motor Company has expanded its partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its support of the DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program. Hyundai will provide the DOE with five fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) to advance research and development of fuel cell technologies as a part of the agreement. Furthermore, the company aims to address technical barriers and enable hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across applications and sectors. These factors are expected to drive the global membrane electrode assembly market during the forecast period.
Augmented Technological Innovations Stoked by Government Schemes to Drive Market Growth
Fuel cells & electrolyzers are a viable and crucial technology for transforming energy systems with higher efficiency and less carbon dioxide emission. However, the availability of different resources and different technologies has approached the substantial participation of countries in the development of fuel cell technology. Therefore, the government has supported various collaborative technologies for the R&D and demonstration projects with competitive funding programs. For instance, The German government, along with the industrial sector, has formed a strategic alliance known as the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme (NIP) to support the development of fuel cell technologies and can be considered the most crucial part of the German roadmap for fuel cells. The alliance works to plan and outline the strategic framework for further development in fuel cell technologies in different applications.
The inter-ministerial National Innovation Programme for hydrogen and fuel cell technology has administrated around USD 28.5 million in annual funding for the mobility application over ten years’ duration. In addition, the government has also worked strategically to spur the improvement in mass production and performance in the fuel cell industry. Hence, a significant development in fuel cell technology and government initiatives for technological development propels the global membrane electrode assembly market.
Rising Initiatives for Fuel Cell in Automotive Industry to Support Growth
The automotive industry contributes to global emissions, attributing the dependency on fossil fuel as a primary energy source. The increasing initiatives for zero-emission have inclined customers to adopt zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) or electric vehicles (EVs), which commence as a probability for fuel cell electric vehicles, creating opportunities for the market. Automotive manufacturers are making huge investments for developing efficient and high-power vehicles, which creates significant opportunities for fuel cell technology. Because of this factor, market opportunities could be significantly accelerated by the diverse supply of vehicles and models by several automakers and committing the high production volume.
In addition to the supply side factor, the increasing government initiative for clean energy solutions empowers the growth of fuel cell technology. In July 2020, The European Union pushed the EU hydrogen strategy to support clean energy by increasing European funding and allocating approximately USD 825 billion and an entire transition plan. The European Union has also provided a detailed guide regarding investments, market creation, research, and development, encouraging industries to adopt energy-efficient vehicles.
Environmental policies such as emission limits have known initiatives for automakers to invest in clean vehicle development and production. For example, In November 2020, Volvo Group and Daimler truck have planned to develop and produce commercialized fuel cell systems for heavy-duty trucks and other applications as an initial step for sustainable transportation. This is expected to spur the membrane electrode assembly market growth during the forecast period.
Durability Challenges Associated with Fuel Cells Likely to Hinder Market Growth
The fabrication of the MEA correlates with the performance of the stack as it’s a key component of the fuel cell & electrolyzers where electrochemical reactions occur. It has been recognized that defects, such as higher interfacial resistance between the catalyst layers or the crack in the catalyst layer during the MEAs manufacturing process, influence the stack degradation. In addition to the degradation issue, high cost remains another major challenge for the market.
Various studies and demonstrations have been carried out, resulting in degradation in the frequent start-up and shut-down, decreasing maximum power density or nearly random power load cycling, which confronts the durability issues in the practical load conditions and hampers the commercial viability of fuel cell technology.
Additionally, the humidification of the MEA causes lower conductivity and leads to an increment of resistance in the membrane and catalyst layer, resulting in the membrane's chemical degradation. This mechanism of degradation results in membrane thinning and lowering of mechanical strength, causing performance loss or cell failure, which may hamper the product demand. However, various research has been driven for developing fault identification in fuel cell technology. For instance, the FRA methodologies have been applied to the research and development of PEMFCs, which analyze the different degradation mechanisms that affect the performance of PEMFC. Further, Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) was used to support the optimization of components.
Membranes Segment to Grow at High Pace
Based on the components, the market is segmented into membranes, gas diffusion layers, gaskets, and others.
Among these, the membranes segment accounted for the major membrane electrode assembly market share of the global market in 2020. The membrane component acts as an electric insulator in the assembly. The component provides strong mechanical, chemical, and electrochemical stability in a harsh chemical-rich environment over a range of operating conditions and also offer long life, with low reactant permeability.
The gas diffusion layers segment is expected to experience considerable growth during the forecast period, as these layers act as porous media for transporting the reactant from the flow field and evenly dispersing it over the catalyst sites.
The others segment includes components such as ink, acid wash, hot pressing, and cutting & sitting methods.
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Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) Segment Accounted for Largest Market Share
Based on the end-user, the market is categorized into proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), direct methanol fuel cell, electrolyzers, and others.
The proton exchange membrane fuel cell segment accounted for the major share in the market in 2020. The proton exchange membrane fuel cell is widely used in stationary applications for power systems and portable devices. In addition, many manufacturers use PEM fuel cells in automobile, bus, commercial vehicles demonstration.
The electrolyzer is also the key segment of the market, as it is considered as one of the most reliable technology for producing green hydrogen in a non-polluting manner and uses renewable energy as an electrical source. The application produces hydrogen directly at the location and is comparatively the cheapest method.
The others segment includes applications such as polymer electrolyte fuel cells, alkaline fuel cells, hydrogen or oxygen air fuel cells, and many more.
Asia Pacific Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA) Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)
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The market has been analyzed across five key regions, namely, North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Rest of the World.
Asia Pacific is the major region in the global market. In terms of value, the region held a share of 53.4% in 2020. In the Asia Pacific, the rising demand for electric vehicles, various frameworks for promoting renewable energy and are expected to aggregate the membrane electrode assemblies market due to the general consideration of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies for achieving the goal. The Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan (FCCJ), a private-sector organization, has promoted the fuel cell technology for creating an FCEV commercialization scenario and accumulated the number of FCEV to be around 2 million by 2025, covering most of the cities in Japan
North America is projected to grow exponentially during the forecast period due to the commercial introduction of fuel cell technology and substantial investments in the research & development program of fuel cell technologies. The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) fuel cell technologies administration has set goals for promoting the widespread commercialization of fuel cell technologies through technological development, demonstration, and diverse efforts to overcome institutional and market challenges. Additionally, various states are posing action plans for diminishing the carbon footprint.
In Europe, the focus on developing high power-efficient vehicles and promoting hydrogen-based transpiration is aggregating the membrane electrode assemblies market. The various initiatives by government bodies have turned the spotlight on the development and commercialization of fuel cell technologies. For instance, the GAIA project funded by European Union (EU), which focuses on developing high power and high current density automotive MEAs, has the objective of a significant enhancement to the MEAs designs that satisfy the cost, durability, and operational targets set by the fuel cell. Additionally, the project incorporates OEMs, leading industry and research organizations, expertise in fuel cell science and technology for developing higher performance MEAs.
The Rest of the World held a minimum share of the market in 2020. Several countries, such as South Africa, Dubai, and Brazil, have shown significant interest in testing and deploying FCEVs over the coming years. Additionally, the countries are also investing substantially to develop hydrogen infrastructure and support the transition in general mobility. For instance, in February 2021, South Africa has expected to start manufacturing and commercializing fuel cell technologies. The government has been working with the private sector industry analysis, academia, and various partners for developing hydrogen fuel cell technology and energy storage technology. This drift in hydrogen energy is expected to propel the market. Additionally, this work also serves the establishment of new uses and a new market for the platinum metal group, which has huge availability in the country.
Ballard Power Systems to Focus on Expanding Its Product Line and Utilize Its Channels to Market New Products
Currently, Ballard Power Systems, Johnson Matthey, BASF SE, W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. and Plug Power Inc. are the key players in the market, accounting for a dominant share in 2020. Supportive government initiatives for the growing renewable industry and an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions have led to intense competition in the market.
Ballard Power Systems is engaged in developing and provider of innovative fuel cell solutions for markets such as automotive, marine, rail, material handling, and others. The company’s product portfolio is categorized into two main segments: fuel cell power products and technology solutions. The formulation and integration division for membrane assembly comes under the product development and provides expertise and resources supporting advancing fuel cell technology. The company operates three facilities in Burnaby, Canada, which have a combined capacity of producing one million MEAs and fuel stacks annually. For instance, On September 28, 2020, Ballard Power Systems decided to expand its manufacturing capacity to produce membrane electrode assemblies by six times at its headquarter facility in Vancouver.
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The market report presents a comprehensive industry assessment by offering valuable insights, facts, industry-related information, and historical data. Several methodologies and approaches have been adopted to make meaningful assumptions and views to formulate the market research report. Furthermore, the report covers a detailed analysis and information as per market segments, including components, applications, and regions, helping our readers to get a comprehensive overview of the global industry.
Value (USD Billion)
By Component, Application, and Region
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 0.34 billion in 2020 and is projected to surpass USD 1.70 billion by 2028.
The Asia Pacific dominated the market in terms of share in 2020.
Registering a CAGR of 22.1%, the market will exhibit a decent growth rate during the forecast period (2021-2028).
By component, the membrane segment is anticipated to hold a significant share and dominate the market during the forecast period.
The rising initiatives for fuel cell in the automotive industry is the key factor driving the market growth.
Ballard Power Systems, Johnson Matthey, Danish Power Systems, BASF SE, and W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., among others, are the key participants operating in the market.
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