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Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) Market Size, Share & COVID-19 Impact Analysis, By Application (Transport, Stationary, Others) and Regional Forecast, 2021-2028

Last Updated: July 01, 2024 | Format: PDF | Report ID: FBI101708



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The global proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) market size was USD 1.56 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow from USD 2.10 billion in 2021 to USD 22.74 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 40.6% in the 2021-2028 period. The Asia Pacific dominated the proton exchange membrane fuel cell market with a share of 57.69% in 2020. The sudden rise in CAGR is attributable to this market’s demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.

The global impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and staggering, with the PEMFC industry witnessing a negative demand shock across all regions amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a slower growth rate of 7.4% in 2020.

A proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) is a hydrogen-based fuel cell that consists of a special proton-conducting polymer electrolyte membrane. The electrodes of this fuel cell are platinum-based. PEMFC uses the electrochemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to transform the liberated chemical energy into electrical energy. The operating range of temperature for PEMFC is 50°C to 1000°C. The major advantage which will drive the adoption of PEMFC over the forecast period is the byproduct of the reaction in the fuel cell, which is only water. Owing to this characteristic of the fuel cell, it is being looked upon as the most preferred solution for the transportation sector. 

Blockades in Research and Development Programs Has Hampered the Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Industry

The global health emergency caused by the sudden spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on every industry. Industries had to suffer a significant loss in operational time and blockades in supply chains owing to the imposition of strict policies such as nation-wide lockdowns to curb the reach of the virus. Accordingly, the outbreak of the disease has altered the demand for proton exchange membrane fuel cells. As the market is still at a nascent stage, the loss in the total workforce, unavailability of skilled workforce, and long-spanning shutdowns of manufacturing plants has thereby resulted in a limited output of FCEVs and therefore hampering the industry growth.


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Rising Government Initiatives to Adopt Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEVs) is a Vital Market Trend

The growing inclination of customers towards the adoption of zero-emission vehicles embarks as an emerging prospect for the proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) industry. Automotive manufacturers are pumping huge investments to develop efficient and high-power vehicles to achieve the global targets for FCEVs to suffice the demand for clean fuel vehicles across the globe. For example, the Chinese government has planned to build hydrogen infrastructure under China’s New Energy Vehicle roadmap, which aims to build 300 hydrogen refueling stations by 2025 and 1,000 by 2030 launch, and 1 million FCEVs in service by 2030. Various regional governments have introduced subsidies and other monetary incentive programs encouraging customers to certainly replace their fleet with energy-efficient fuel cell vehicles.

Drift towards Hydrogen-powered Vehicles by Automotive Manufacturers is a Crucial Market Trend

Automotive manufacturers are initiating various projects to focus on adopting fuel cell electric vehicles. Further, these players are also investing and collaborating with leading fuel cell manufacturers to produce efficient systems. For instance, in 2019, Toyota planned to increase the global production to 30,000 fuel cell stacks by 2020 and has started deploying its hydrogen forklifts, buses, and heavy trucks. Furthermore, in December 2018, Hyundai Motor Group introduced a new plan intending to make 700,000 fuel cell systems annually, out of which 500,000 MW would be used for private and commercial FCEVs.


Better Fuel Efficiency and Less Dependency on Fossil Fuels Will Drive the Adoption

Proton exchange membrane fuel cells are used as a power source for several applications, including transportation, stationary, as well as mobile, which allows to diversify and strengthen the energy infrastructure in the global market. It provides a clean, reliable, and more energy-efficient solution for catering to the rapidly rising demand for power. Therefore, better fuel efficiency and inclination towards the adoption of zero-emission vehicles will propel the demand for these fuel cells across various application sectors during the forecast period.

Increasing Focus to Diminish Carbon Footprint and Curb Other Harmful Emissions will Favor Growth

As the proton exchange membrane fuel cell operates on abundantly available hydrogen as the primary fuel, it directly reduces the economic dependence on fossil fuel usage. Additionally, it does not generate hazardous emissions such as CO, CO2, SOx, NOx, and other contents emitted by petrol/diesel-powered vehicles, thereby boosting the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on a large scale across the globe and therefore escalating the demand for PEMFC.

For instance, in April 2019, the world’s largest auto-parts supplier company called Bosch planned to advance the fuel cell technology by joining forces with another company called Powercell Sweden to co-design polymer-electrolyte membrane fuel cells. The company believes that hydrogen fuel cell trucks and cars will play a key role in future mobility, and the production of these by the company will be carried out at its Bamberg plant. Innovative fuel-cell stacks are expected to come off the production lines by 2022.


Increasing Demand for Other Electric Vehicles and Difficulty in Managing Bulk Hydrogen Stations May Hinder Growth

The major factor that can restrain the proton exchange membrane fuel cell industry growth is the rising demand for electric vehicles, which includes battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The demand for these vehicles is increasing at a significant rate owing to their various advantages such as higher efficiency, no polluting byproducts, cost-efficiency, and energy security. This factor may hamper growth.

The other factor that can hamper the market growth is the high cost of producing and delivering hydrogen fuel to service stations, along with the complex managing process of bulk fueling stations. Additionally, the planning and construction of new stations require huge investments dependent on multiple factors affecting market trends.


By Application Analysis

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Focus on Reducing Carbon Emissions from Vehicles Will Drive the Adoption of PEMFC for Transportation

Based on the application, the global market for PEMFC is segmented into transport, stationery, and others. Proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) over the years have been majorly used for vehicles as a replacement for fossil fuels that will result in zero carbon emissions. It has led to the domination of the transportation segment within the market. The rising investments for improving hydrogen infrastructure by various nations will further drive the growth of the transport segment. The stationary segment is also expected to witness a healthy growth rate to look for alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.


Asia Pacific Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)

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The market has been analyzed across major regions, which include North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the rest of the world. Asia Pacific has been the dominant region in the market owing to initiatives by various governments in the region to promote and increase the hydrogen infrastructure. Additionally, the region also has a presence of key market players, which has contributed to its dominance in the global market. Further, Japan is anticipated to lead the industry volume in the long-term due to humongous FCEV goals along with the government’s favorable inclination to achieve a zero-carbon society. Besides, the administration is also continually working towards policies and frameworks to achieve the goal of becoming a carbon-negative economy.

In North America, the U.S. is projected to grow exponentially due to encouraging government targets and substantial research & development investments. The administration has set tremendous goals to promote the usage of hydrogen passenger vehicles which are set to boost the demand for fuel cell cars in the region. Additionally, states such as California possess a vision to introduce commercial vehicles, including buses, over the forecast timeframe to reduce the country’s fossil fuel dependency. It also wants to diminish the carbon footprint.

The latest update by the European Union on 2030 targets includes a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as compared to 1990 levels. Fuel cell and hydrogen (FCH) technologies are expected to play a major role in achieving these goals for climate change, energy efficiency, pollution mitigation, and internal energy sourcing. This is expected to boost the investments for PEMFC in Europe.


Ballard Power Systems & W.L. Gore & Associates to Lead with Investments in R&D Activities and Wide Customer Reach

The PEMFC market is diversified, with numerous players carrying out research and development activities. Amongst the present players in the market, Ballard Power Systems, and W.L. Gore & Associates holds significant shares in the global market owing to their rigorous investments in PEMFC research and development activities and broad customer reach.

For instance, the demand for Toyota’s Mirai fuel-cell car has increased since its introduction, which procures fuel cells from W.L. Gore & Associates. Similarly, Hyundai Nexo gained customers’ attention. Asian players in the market are expected to show healthy growth in their sales with government backing to promote fuel cell vehicles.


  • Ballard Power Systems (Canada)

  • Plug Power (United States)

  • Hydrogenics (Canada)

  • Nuvera Fuel Cells, LLC (United States)

  • Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies (China)

  • Nedstack Fuel Cell Technology (Netherlands)

  • ITM Power (United Kingdom)

  • AVL (Austria)

  • ElringKlinger (Germany)

  • Intelligent Energy (United Kingdom)

  • W. L. Gore & Associates (United States)

  • Pragma Industries (France)

  • Umicore (Belgium)

  • Shanghai Shenli Technology Co., Ltd. (China)

  • Johnson Matthey (United Kingdom)


  • January 2021 - Johnson Matthey announced its plans to commercialize technologies for enabling the production of zero-carbon ‘green’ hydrogen.’ A new manufacturing capacity for catalyst coated membranes co-located with JM’s cutting-edge plant in Swindon, U.K., was announced. At the Swindon plant, high-performance fuel cell components, including catalyst coated membranes, membrane electrode assemblies, and fuel processor catalysts, are produced.

  • December 2020 - Scientists working with the UltraPress research project, a part of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF’s) KMU-NetC initiative, introduced a new and advanced hot pressing process through an ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) tool to produce bipolar plates in fuel cells. The innovation can significantly enhance the functioning of high-temperature PEM fuel cells (HT-PEMFC) by reducing their cycle time and total manufacturing costs.


An Infographic Representation of Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) Market

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The global proton exchange membrane fuel cell market report highlights leading regions across the world to offer a better understanding of the user. Furthermore, the market research report provides insights into the latest industry trends and analyzes technologies that are being deployed at a rapid pace at a global level. It further highlights some of the growth-stimulating factors and restraints, helping the reader gain in-depth knowledge about the industry.

Report Scope & Segmentation



Study Period


Base Year


Forecast Period


Historical Period



  Value (MW, USD Billion)

By Application

  • Transport

  • Stationary

  • Others

By Geography

  • North America

    • By Application

    • By Country

      • The U.S.

      • Canada

  • Europe

    • By Application

    • By Country

      • UK

      • Germany

      • France

      • Italy

      • Sweden

      • Rest of Europe

  • Asia Pacific

    • By Type

    • By Country

      • China

      • South Korea

      • Japan

      • Rest of Asia Pacific

  • Rest of the World

    • By Application


Frequently Asked Questions

Fortune Business Insights says that the global proton exchange membrane fuel cell market size was USD 1.56 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 22.74 billion by 2028.

In 2020, the Asia Pacific market value stood at USD 0.90 billion.

The market is likely to exhibit substantial growth at a CAGR of 40.6% over the forecast period (2021-2028).

The transport segment is anticipated to dominate this market during the forecast period.

Increased focus on reducing carbon footprints and better operating efficiency of PEMFC is the key factor driving the market.

Hyundai Motor Company, Toyota Motor Corporation, Ballard Power Systems, and American Honda Motor Company, Inc. are some of the key participants operating in the industry.

Asia Pacific dominated the market in terms of share in 2020.

The major application of PEMFC is in the transportation sector. Further, amongst the currently available options of fuel cells, it is the most preferred for vehicles. Therefore, government initiatives to promote FCEVS will positively drive the adoption.

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