In the paper it is analysed which countries are likely to become the lead markets for fuel cells in stationary applications. The study is part of a larger research project “Policy Frameworks for the Development of International Markets for Innovations of a Sustainable Economy - from Pilot Markets to Lead Markets (LEAD)”. In the course of this project more than 20 environmental technologies were examined regarding the regional differences of their market introduction and penetration. The project aims to explain why some countries are earlier in the introduction of environmental innovations and why the market penetration is more encompassing than in others. If the technologies of the pioneering countries diffuse to other countries without great modification, they can be analysed as lead markets for environmental innovations.
Fuel cells for electricity generation in stationary are an emerging technology that is still in the stage of development and demonstration. There are several competing innovation designs on the market, and it is still open which technology is likely to be successful. The different technologies are described and compared among each other, as well as against conventional technologies for power generation.
Three countries can be identified as frontrunners in the development of fuel cells, namely the United States, Japan and Germany. These countries are analysed regarding the R&D policies, the conditions for combined heat and power generation (CHP), the structure of energy prices, and regarding environmental policies that aim at internalising the environmental costs of energy production. The paper evaluates the different activities to stimulate the development and market introduction of fuel cells from a comparative perspective in order to assess respective lead market potential.
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