Fuel Cell Technology and Market Opportunities

23 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by Andrea Larson

Andrea Larson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Stephen Keach

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This note can be used as informational background reading on fuel cells, an environmentally attractive alternative technology for power generation and transportation. Courses that deal with innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, environment, energy/power/transportation issues, or sustainable business may find this useful. This note accompanies a case on fuel cells (UVA-ENT-0018). The note explores fuel cell technology including its history, current and potential applications, fuel sources, environmental issues, and manufacturing challenges. The commercialization issues covered include: performance requirements, time to market, costs, and other outside driving forces such as fuel distribution infrastructure, power generation reliability, fuel prices, etc. Fuel cells are an electrochemical energy source with the potential to take a significant market share from traditional electrical power generation and automobile propulsion technologies. Over the next decade fuel cells may provide more reliable energy and cleaner air while decreasing dependence on fossil fuels for transportation and stationary applications.



Rev. Oct. 13, 2009


As we move into the 21st century, a number of key energy-related challenges face the nation. U.S. dependence on imported oil is growing, increasing the nation's vulnerability to supply and price disruptions. Electricity outages, power disruptions, and price spikes threaten U.S. productivity especially in the rapidly growing information-based service industries. Despite ongoing improvements in air quality, air pollution from burning hydrocarbons continues to cause high levels of respiratory illnesses, acid rain, and photochemical smog. And global climate change threatens to impose significant long-term costs from increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather. The prosperity and well-being of future generations will be strongly affected by the manner in which the nation responds to these challenges.

If methods of generating electricity threaten the well-being of people and the environment in industrialized countries, developing countries face an even greater risk. Growth in population, consumer demand, industry, and infrastructure all contribute to energy use that is increasing more rapidly than in industrialized countries. Developing countries are less able to deal with the economic cost and environmental and health problems related to burning fossil fuels to produce energy.

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Keywords: competitive dynamics, new product introduction, entrepreneurship, environmental issues, market analysis, new technology, management of, pollution, technological change, technological innovation, technology strategy

Suggested Citation

Larson, Andrea and Keach, Stephen, Fuel Cell Technology and Market Opportunities. Darden Case No. UVA-ENT-0016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=908787

Andrea Larson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/larson.htm

Stephen Keach

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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