Global PEM Electrolyzer Market 2021
The global market for proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers witnessed significant growth, with a value of $95.9 million in 2021. It is projected to reach $2,302 million by 2032, exhibiting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.0% during the forecast period from 2022 to 2032.
PEM electrolysis plays a crucial role in producing highly pure hydrogen for chemical reactions and energy storage purposes. The increasing share of renewable energy in power infrastructure has led to a growing interest in capturing energy as hydrogen through water electrolysis on a global scale. Hydrogen serves as an environmentally friendly fuel source for the production of various substances, including fertilizers. Additionally, it can be stored and utilized for electricity production during periods of high consumption, supplementing the natural gas system, and fueling vehicles.
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USD 2302 Mn incremental growth between 2021 and 2026
End User, Material Type, Region
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However, the adoption of water electrolysis technology has been limited due to factors such as high investment costs, maintenance expenses, and the limited availability of renewable energy sources. Consequently, PEM electrolyzers were mainly used in niche applications and laboratory scales.
In recent years, PEM electrolysis has gained momentum due to the increasing emphasis on eco-friendly and low-carbon technologies. This technology has become popular among companies as it produces zero carbon emissions and utilizes electricity generated from abundant renewable sources like wind and solar power, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, advancements in proton exchange membrane electrolyzers’ technical capabilities and performance have paved the way for rapid market expansion during the period of 2022-2031.
The demand for water electrolysis is primarily driven by the growing demand for hydrogen and green hydrogen. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global hydrogen demand reached approximately 94 million tons in 2021, representing a 5% increase compared to 2020. Industries such as refining, ammonia production, and methanol production are major consumers of hydrogen. The demand for PEM electrolyzers is expected to grow alongside the increasing demand from these industries, as well as from transportation, power and energy storage, and other sectors. Investments from governments and private sector companies in renewable energy are anticipated to further fuel the development of the global PEM electrolyzer market. However, the lack of hydrogen infrastructure, including storage and transportation, may hinder market growth in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a positive impact on the PEM electrolyzer market. The investment in renewable energy reached record levels, and the sales of fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) increased. Although FCV sales declined significantly in 2020, they rebounded in 2021 with a year-over-year increase of 257% and a record 3,341 vehicles sold in the U.S. This resurgence, coupled with the growing demand for green hydrogen and the focus on decarbonization and sustainability, is expected to drive the continued growth of the PEM electrolyzer market in the coming years.
The demand drivers for the global PEM electrolyzer market include the rising adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), ongoing research and development initiatives for technological advancements in PEM electrolyzers, and the increasing demand for green hydrogen.
However, the market may face challenges such as high energy losses during the production process and the high cost of production due to the use of precious metals in PEM technology. These limitations need to be addressed to ensure the sustained growth of the market.
The market is segmented based on various factors, including end user, material type, and region.
Segmentation by End User
Power and Energy Storage
Segmentation by Material Type
Segmentation by Region
North America – U.S., Canada, and Mexico
Europe – Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain, and Rest-of-Europe
Asia-Pacific and Japan – Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, and Rest-of-Asia-Pacific
Rest-of-the-World- South America, and Middle East and Africa
The ammonia segment is projected to be the largest end user and dominate the market from 2022 to 2031, followed by the refining industry. One of the primary applications of PEM electrolysis-based hydrogen production is the manufacturing of ammonia for fertilizer production. Green ammonia, known for its environmental friendliness, energy efficiency, and economic viability, plays a significant role as a fertilizer in agriculture and has potential as an energy carrier. In 2020, ammonia production accounted for 55% of the global hydrogen production, according to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that by 2050, ammonia production will reach 227 million tons, with 92 million tons produced through electrolysis technologies. Additionally, the IEA reports that in 2021, the refining sector consumed 39.8 million tons of hydrogen out of a total demand of 94 million tons, making it the largest consumer of hydrogen globally. Hydrogen is utilized in various refining processes such as hydrodesulfurization, hydrocracking, isomerization, polymerization, and others. The increasing demand for hydrogen in the refining industry is influenced by the rising demand for diesel fuels.
Among different materials, platinum is expected to lead the market during the forecast period of 2022-2031. Platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts, particularly platinum and iridium, are crucial for proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers and fuel cells. Platinum-based catalysts are used in the cathode for the hydrogen evolution reaction. The demand outlook for iridium is uncertain due to variations in growth rates and technological choices among hydrogen producers. However, the plans for green hydrogen projects indicate a skyrocketing demand for other PGMs like platinum, palladium, and others over the next decade. Meeting the European Union’s green hydrogen production goals alone could result in several times higher demand for PGMs in electrolyzers by 2030 compared to the current global supply. Nevertheless, the scarcity of iridium poses challenges for increasing annual PEM electrolyzer production. Various organizations are actively working on solutions to address the issue of iridium scarcity and price.
Government support also encourages investment in research and development activities to tackle the shortage of iridium. For example, in February 2022, the U.S. government recognized the importance of platinum group metals, including iridium, for the growth of the low-carbon hydrogen industry. This recognition was supported by the bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in 2021. The government issued executive orders to promote the production of clean energy technologies, including PGMs and electrolyzers, in accordance with the 1950 Defense Production Act.
Europe dominates the water electrolysis market due to the presence of leading companies such as Nel ASA and ITM Power PLC, a highly developed renewable energy market, and growing sales of fuel cell vehicles. European countries were early adopters of water electrolysis technology for hydrogen production, and in 2020, Europe accounted for approximately 40% of the global installed electrolyzer capacity, according to the IEA. Moreover, the European Union includes electrolyzer capacity in its hydrogen capacity, which could lead to an installed electrolyzer capacity of 75 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 in the region.
Europe is actively pursuing cost-effective methods of hydrogen production using PEM electrolyzers to reduce carbon emissions. The region has developed a comprehensive hydrogen strategy that encompasses current and future aspects of hydrogen production and applications, as well as investments in green hydrogen production. The expansion of hydrogen use in industries like transportation, steel, and iron manufacturing, where green hydrogen serves as a fuel, is a key focus of Europe’s hydrogen strategy. Additionally, significant investments from financial institutions like the European Investment Bank (EIB) have been made in the development of large-scale green hydrogen projects in the region. European countries also play a significant role in adopting and manufacturing novel green hydrogen and ammonia technologies. This is evident through proposed electrolyzer factories by producers such as Thyssenkrupp, ITM Power, John Cockerill, Siemens Energy, Cummins Inc., Nel ASA, McPhy, and Sunfire. The growing inclination towards eco-friendly chemicals is expected to drive the demand for the PEM electrolyzer market and boost the green fuel industry in the European region.
The selection of the companies profiled in this report was based on inputs obtained from primary experts, analysis of company coverage, product portfolio, and market penetration.
Key companies profiled in this report include Plug Power Inc, Nel ASA, Cummins. Inc., ITM Power PLC, Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Elogen, Siemens Energy, Ningbo Vet Energy Technology Co., Ltd., H2GREEM S.L., Teledyne Energy Systems, Inc, Elchemtech Co., Ltd., Beijing SinoHy Energy Co., Ltd.
Recent Industry Developments
In March 2022, Elogen was awarded an order for a 1 MW proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer from Communauté d’Agglomération Pau Béarn Pyrénées. Elogen will be responsible for the design and production of this PEM electrolyzer and is expected to deliver it to the Lescar wastewater treatment site in the first half of 2023.
In April 2022, Ohmium secured an investment of approximately $45 million from Fenice Investment Group, one of its investors. The funding is intended to support the company’s growth and enable an expansion of its hydrogen manufacturing capacity from 500 MW to 2 GW per year by the end of 2022.
In July 2022, Plug Power Inc. entered into a contract with Irving Oil, an international energy company, to provide a containerized proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer system with a capacity of 5 megawatts (MW). The system will be utilized for hydrogen production and distribution at Irving Oil’s Saint John refinery in New Brunswick, Canada.
Key Questions Answered
What are the primary obstacles hindering the scalability of PEM electrolyzer technology, and how can they be overcome?
Where is the greatest demand for additional research and development efforts within the market?
What are the potential areas of opportunity for enhancing the efficiency of PEM electrolyzer technology?
What are the different types of electrolyzer technologies that are expected to be developed in the upcoming years?
What are the major challenges related to iridium that companies face?
What are the key measures undertaken by leading companies to address the iridium supply-demand gap?
What are the significant factors and trends influencing the market for PEM electrolyzers?
What are some of the key initiatives implemented by established players to enhance their market position, and what strategies are new entrants adopting in this market?
How has the global PEM electrolyzer market been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
How has the Russia-Ukraine conflict affected the PEM electrolyzer market?