Mirant Kendall Cogeneration Station in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Image courtesy: Wikipedia
The U.S. market for combined heat and power (CHP) and fuel cells is expected to add 11 GW of customer-sited, fuel-based generation in the next ten years, according to a report by GTM Research. That’s up 11 GW from today’s base of 84 GW.
The report tallies CHP’s share of the U.S. distributed generation (DG) market at 8 percent, almost double that of the country’s total wind capacity, and 10 times that of distributed solar.
CHP and fuel cells have lately experienced a stagnation in growth, due mostly to regulatory uncertainties and a declining U.S. manufacturing sector, the report says. But new incentives and corporate activity are setting the stage for rejuvenated activity.
“What looks like a stagnant market on the surface is actually smoldering with a significant number of technology and fuel options, capable vendors, and a new batch of customers who are ready to adopt fuel-based DG systems,” said Mei Shibata, lead author of the report. “The whole thing could light up again if implementation barriers are lowered and regulations are deemed sufficiently stable from a customer’s perspective.”
The report also notes that adoption of CHP technologies is increasingly driven by non-industrial customers, while corporations and data centers are driving the uptick in fuel cell utilization. Today, four U.S. states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, and New York—make up 90 percent of all fuel cell installations.