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National energy security, environmental pollution, and climate change are driving the development of cleaner domestic energy alternatives. Fuel cells are among the promising technologies that are expected to transform our energy sector. They represent highly efficient and fuel-flexible technologies that offer diverse benefits. For example, fuel cells can be used in a wide range of applications—from portable electronics, to combined heat and power (CHP) units used for distributed electricity generation, to passenger vehicles. DOE-funded efforts have led to significant progress in hydrogen and fuel cells. Activities have reduced the amount of platinum needed by more than a factor of five, doubled fuel cell durability, and reduced the cost of automotive fuel cells by more than 35% since 2008 and more than 80% since 2002.

National energy security, environmental pollution, and climate change are driving the development of cleaner domestic energy alternatives. Fuel cells are among the promising technologies that are expected to transform our energy sector. They represent highly efficient and fuel-flexible technologies that offer diverse benefits. For example, fuel cells can be used in a wide range of applications—from portable electronics, to combined heat and power (CHP) units used for distributed electricity generation, to passenger vehicles. DOE-funded efforts have led to significant progress in hydrogen and fuel cells. Activities have reduced the amount of platinum needed by more than a factor of five, doubled fuel cell durability, and reduced the cost of automotive fuel cells by more than 35% since 2008 and more than 80% since 2002.

  • Mechanical engineers
  • Industrial engineers
  • Chemical engineers
  • Electrical engineers
  • Materials scientists
  • Chemists
  • Factory workers
  • Machinists
  • Power plant maintenance staff
  • Power plant operators
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Bus, truck and other fleet drivers
  • Vehicle technicians
  • Fueling infrastructure installers
  • Hydrogen production Technicians

What's driving job creation?

Fuel cell technologies are available today in markets where they cost effectively deliver environmental and performance benefits. Today's fuel cell technology offers cost-competitive solutions for material handling equipment (such as forklifts) and emergency backup power units. In 2011, the fuel cell market grew more than 35% over 2010, with more than 20,000 fuel cell shipments worldwide. As fuel cell costs decrease, the technology will expand into additional applications. Some of the largest potential markets for the technology include stationary power generation, portable power, and transportation, such as passenger cars and buses. Independent analyses show global markets could mature over the next 10-20 years, producing revenues of $14 to $31 billion from stationary power, $11 billion per year from portable power, and $18 - $97 billion per year from transportation applications.iii

The global hydrogen market is also robust with over 55 MT produced in 2011 and over 70 MT projected in 2016, more than a 30% increase.iv

As various fuel cell applications gain market share, the industry is expected to undergo significant growth. Employment opportunities will open up in businesses that develop, manufacture, operate, and maintain the fuel cell systems. Jobs will also become available in businesses that produce and deliver the hydrogen and other fuels used by these systems. Many of these jobs require engineering and science backgrounds related to product and technology development.

Where can I find classes or training?

FCTO is funding the development of fuel cell education modules. These include general education courses, specialized science and engineering courses, minor and concentration programs, curriculum modules, internships, lab classes and kits, and textbook chapters. These modules are conducted at several universities, including.

  • California State University-Los Angeles
  • Humboldt State University
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • Michigan Technological University
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of North Dakota

These projects are designed to introduce hydrogen and fuel cell technology to students across the country—educating the scientists, engineers, and potential end users of tomorrow. To learn more about these and other education opportunities visit http://www.fuelcells.org/ced/education.html

The National Training and Education Resource (NTER), developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, is a set of Web and learning technologies that can reduce costs while simultaneously greatly enhancing organizations' education and training capabilities. Several NTER courses are available in the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells sector:

The H2Educate program team has helped to create hydrogen and fuel cell curricula and teaching materials. A National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, the H2Educate program is designed to target K-12 teachers and students with educational materials, training programs, and curricula evaluation. The program emphasizes the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills using inquiry activities that encourage students to consider the trade-offs inherent in energy decisions. All NEED materials are available for educators to download free of charge. Ranging from one hour to one day, NEED has provided training to over 9,300 teachers in 35 states since H2Educate's inception in 2004. Pre and post data from participating schools and workshops show a 60% increase in student and teacher knowledge.

These projects are designed to introduce hydrogen and fuel cell technology to students across the country, educating the scientists, engineers, and potential end users of tomorrow. Check out the Teacher and Student Guide for H2Educate!

Check out the Teacher and Student Guide for H2Educate!

Workforce and Economic Need

Continuing technological progress in fuel cell systems, manufacturing technology, and hydrogen production, delivery, and storage will allow fuel cells to compete in markets with more stringent cost, durability, and performance requirements. Codes and standards, in parallel with public education activities, will address economic and institutional challenges to widespread market acceptance.

The growth of current markets and expansion into broader, larger-volume markets will allow fuel cell technologies to provide significant employment, economic, and environmental benefits on a national scale.

Modeling the Economic Benefits of Fuel Cells In May 2012, the DOE launched a new modeling tool for estimating the economic benefits of fuel cells in early market applications. The tool, developed by Argonne National Lab and called "Job and Output Benefits of Stationary Fuel Cells (JOBS FC): Economic Benefits of Fuel Cells," estimates the number of jobs created by deploying fuel cells in forklifts, backup power, and prime power applications. JOBS FC is a spreadsheet model that estimates economic impacts from the manufacture and use of select types of fuel cells. The modeling tool uses input-output methodology to estimate changes in industry expenditures, and calculates the ripple effects of those changes throughout the economy. JOBS FC can be found at http://jobsfc.es.anl.gov

Fuel Cells as a Future Jobs Engine

  • Widespread adoption of fuel cells could create 180,000 new jobs in the United States by 2020, and 675,000 jobs by 2035.v
  • According to an American Solar Energy Society study, fuel cells are the third fastest growing renewable energy industry after biomass and solar.i
  • The Clean Energy Patent Growth Indexvi shows that fuel cell patents lead in the clean energy field with over 950 fuel cell patents issued in 2011 – this is nearly double the second place holder, solar, which has ~540 patents.vi
  • The United States holds over 45% of the fuel cell patents awarded between 2002 - 2011.vi
  • Several states—including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Ohio, New York, and South Carolina—have major hydrogen and fuel cell programs underway.

iGreen Collar Jobs report, (2008). ASES.

iiAccomplishments and Progress, (2013). U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Fuel Cell Technologies Office. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/accomplishments.html

iii2011 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report, (2012). http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/2011_market_report.pdf

ivFuel Cell Economic Development Plan, (2008), Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, Inc., (produced for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development).http://energy.ccat.us/fuelplan.php

vGlobal Hydrogen Generation Market - by Merchant & Captive Type, Distributed & Centralized Generation, Application & Technology - Trends & Forecasts (2011 - 2016), (2011). Markets & Markets. http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/1998228/global_hydrogen_generation_market_by_merchant_and

viClean Energy Patent Growth Index, (2010). Year in Review. http://cepgi.typepad.com/heslin_rothenberg_farley_/