Fuel Cells and Jobs

Posted by Green Jobs - On July 21, 2010 (EST)

Dr. Jonathan Butler is Senior Market Analyst, Asia specializing in market developments in the Asia Pacific region, with an emphasis on portable applications of fuel cells. His current focus includes supply chain developments, legislation, policy and intellectual property (IP) aspects of fuel cell technology, particularly patent and patent opposition analysis, and their commercial implications. He is also interested in the development of fuel cells in the Middle East.


As well as being clean and efficient sources of energy, fuel cells also represent a substantial opportunity for job and wealth creation, particularly in manufacturing of fuel cells and in installing, maintaining and servicing the units. In an increasingly uncertain economic climate, fuel cells may offer both economic stimulus and job creation.

In Europe and North America, there has been a great deal of political focus in recent years on job creation to stimulate economic growth and also to compensate for those being lost in declining industries, especially in regions severely hit by the recent recession. This echoes the ‘New Deal’ policies in the USA in the 1930s when huge public works programs were undertaken to create employment in the Depression. The 21st century versions of these policies are firmly aimed at creating jobs in potentially high-growth areas of the economy. Legislation such as the US Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act 2008 specifically emphasises the creation of ‘green collar’ jobs – manufacturing jobs focused on new, clean technologies. Similarly, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) 2009 has also provided a conduit for job creation, with billions of dollars being invested in the energy sector.

Fuel Cell Today has recently conducted analysis of job creation in the fuel cell industry over the next decade. According to our calculations, around 700,000 jobs could be created in fuel cell manufacturing over the next ten years, with over a million jobs in total when manufacturing and servicing is also included. Most of the jobs are expected to be created in manufacturing fuel cells for stationary applications (for example combined heat and power for buildings) with a heavy concentration of installation and maintenance jobs in regions where fuel cells are adopted, such as the United States. Manufacturing of fuel cells will largely take place in Asia, Europe and North America, although certain other regions with attractive government incentives, including South Africa and the Middle East, may also become important regions for fuel cell manufacturing.

When we compare fuel cell job creation with job creation in related clean energy sectors such as wind and solar, we see that fuel cells have the potential to create around 150,000 jobs per year by 2020, a similar number to the annual rate of job creation in the solar and wind energy sectors today. In other words, the fuel cell industry could be the next ‘green growth’ industry, facilitating green collar jobs, economic growth and contributing to energy security.

Our forecasts are based on a business as usual scenario, with assumptions on productivity improvements and expansion of fuel cell manufacturing built into our model. However, our model assumes that the appropriate levels of skills and training will be available to the fuel cell workforce – this is something that governments and industry need to invest in now to achieve these green collar jobs.

To see for yourself the job creation potential of the fuel cell industry, please visit our online job creation tool. This allows you to model job creation in the fuel cell industry in any one of the next ten years, broken down by application. Simply input shipment data! The Fuel Cell Today’s job creation tool is available from www.fuelcelltoday.com

For more information on fuel cells, please see our education kit:


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Modified On : September 03, 2010
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