The fuel cell technology market needs to overcome considerable performance and cost-related issues before it can grow, according to a report from ABI, a technology research firm. The debut of products featuring fuel cell technology, a renewable energy source, is a widely predicted trend, but they first must function better and more inexpensively than the sources they will replace.

“In the long term, fuel cells will provide a clean and renewable energy source, but for product launches within the next few years, cost and technical issues will pose significant barriers for customers,” said Daniel Benjamin, ABI analyst and report author. “Initial consumer fuel cell products will focus on stationary power generation and portable electronics. However, they may not function as well as the power systems they're replacing, yet will be more expensive.”

The report, “Fuel Cell Industry Competitive Analysis: Assessment of Major Players, Global Markets and Technologies,” said the global fuel cell market will be nominal in 2004 despite multiple product introductions, but has the potential to reach $35 billion by 2013. By 2006, new products utilizing fuel cells should deliver performance improvements and begin to sell in larger numbers.