There is a developing market for the use of fuel cells as auxiliary power units (APUs) across a range of markets, including trucking. And while the size of the market in absolute numbers will not be large, reaching just over 5,000 units by 2020, the sector will grow strongly over the next several years, according to a new report from Pike Research.

Titled “Fuel Cells for Auxiliary Power Unit Applications,” the report analyzes the market potential for fuel cells to be used as APUs and includes a comprehensive assessment of market drivers and barriers, technology issues, and key industry players in each of the four sectors.

The four main market sectors for fuel cell APUs are trucking, aviation, marine and RVs. All have the potential to use fuel-cell technology in an APU function for vehicle hotel loads. But in the future, fuel-cell technology could also be used to assist the primary propulsion unit, the report predicts.

Although they represented 20% of all fuel-cell systems shipped in 2010, fuel cells used as APUs remain very limited commercially, according to the report. Global fuel-cell APU shipments totaled only a little over 3,100 in 2010.

Pike predicts worldwide revenue from fuel-cell APUs will reach $66 million annually in 2020, with a total cumulative investment of more than $400 million during the period from 2009 to 2020.

“The reason for the slow but steady growth in this market is that, unlike the other applications for which fuel-cell technology is being developed, there are a number of non-trivial technological and regulatory barriers that need to be addressed for the marine and aviation sectors especially, and for trucking to a lesser degree,” said Pike director of research Kerry-Ann Adamson.

The report also provides forecasts for each sector through 2020, including unit shipments, revenue, and total capacity in megawatts.

Go to for a free download of the report.