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December 29th, 2010

2010 a bust for fuel cell industry

Published on December 29th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Greentech Media has published a year-end list of profitable and unprofitable fuel cell firms. The real kicker is that the “profitable” list contains no entries.

Taken directly from Greentech Media’s list:

FuelCell Energy (Nasdaq:FCEL) reported revenue of $69.8 million in 2010 compared to $88.0 million for the comparable prior year. Net loss for the year was $58.9 million. FuelCell Energy builds molten carbonate stationary fuel cell power plants located at wastewater treatment facilities, universities, pump stations and other sites that need low-emission baseload distributed generation.    

Australian firm, Ceramic Fuel Cells builds SOFC-based small-scale on-site micro combined heat and power (CHP) and distributed generation units.  The AIM and ASX-listed firm lost about $19 million in the year ending June 2010 on sales of $2 million.  The company has some sales activity in Europe. 

Canadian-based Ballard Power Systems produced its one-millionth membrane-electrode assembly (MEA) this year, certainly a milestone in the commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell technology.  The MEA is the core component of its proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell and Ballard has seen a 30 percent annual reduction in the cost of its fuel cell products over the past two years.

Ballard lost $3.3 million on 2009 sales of $46.7 million at a 5.9 percent gross margin. Ballard has a range of fuel cell products including systems and components for residential cogen, distributed generation and backup power. The pioneering firm has been developing proton exchange membrane-based fuel cells and losing money since 1983.

Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG), facing a Nasdaq delisting, lost $19.5 million in the second quarter of this year and $9.3 million on revenue of $5.8 million in the third quarter.  The company is now focusing its PEM fuel cells on the materials handling market (in other words: forklifts).  Oorja Protonics is also targeting this market.

Every fuel cell startup from MTI (recently de-listed from Nasdaq) to Protonex (recently de-listed from the AIM) all the way to multi-nationals like Toshiba have promised commercial fuel cell product for decades, but few have managed to reach commercialization, let alone profitability.

The list continues with fuel cell manufacturers of portable power units, stationary power units and “other” fuel cell firms.

Here’s to hoping 2011 brings these manufacturers some profitability.

 


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