Market Transformation

NREL's market transformation activities address technical and non-technical barriers to the commercialization of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies to ensure that laboratory advances can be realized in the marketplace.

A hydrogen-powered vehicle parked at a fueling station

Projects focus on deploying hydrogen and fuel cells in key early markets—specialty vehicles, backup and remote power, portable power, and primary power for critical applications such as hospitals or data centers—and renewable hydrogen production technologies.

Early Market Deployments

Strategic early market deployments can accelerate the market penetration of hydrogen and fuel cells. A modest number of new orders can significantly reduce costs through economies of scale.

Early market sales stimulate further market activity by:

  • Supporting the growth of a domestic industry
  • Overcoming logistical and other non-technical challenges associated with the adoption of a new technology
  • Establishing key infrastructure elements essential for future market growth
  • Providing real-world operation and performance data and lessons learned that can be used to validate the benefits of the technology.

Project Goals

NREL's hydrogen and fuel cell market transformation team works to:

  • Identify opportunities for fuel cell purchases by federal agencies and provide technical assistance to potential fuel cell demonstration and deployment sites
  • Develop techno-economic assessment tools, deployment tools, and business cases for various fuel cell applications
  • Collect and evaluate data from deployment projects to verify the business cases for early market fuel cell systems, assess the performance of these integrated systems, and document lessons learned
  • Identify, analyze, and test potential new early markets for fuel cells
  • Develop public reports and web-based data tools to inform potential customers of the benefits of integrated hydrogen and fuel cell systems
  • Provide analysis to support potential infrastructure and vehicle deployments
  • Demonstrate fuel cell system performance in early market applications—such as grid support and building peak shaving—using simulation and hardware-in-the-loop capabilities at NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility.


The following documents provide more information about NREL's hydrogen and fuel cell market transformation activities and findings.

Analysis Using Fuel Cell Material Handling Equipment for Shaving Peak Building Energy, Michael Penev, Fuel Cell Technologies Office Webinar (2015)

Backup Power Cost of Ownership Analysis and Incumbent Technology Comparison, Jennifer Kurtz, Genevieve Saur, Sam Sprik, and Chris Ainscough, NREL Technical Report (2014)

Fuel Cell Tool for Assessing Costs Web Portal Tool Development, Matthew Post, Genevieve Saur, Sara Havig, Shauna Fjeld, James Carberry, David Wirtz, Erica Augustine, Michael Oakley, and Chris Ainscough, Presented at the 2014 DOE Annual Merit Review Meeting (2014)

Overcoming the Range Limitation of Medium-Duty Battery Electric Vehicles Through the Use of Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Eric Wood, Lijuan Wang, Jeffrey Gonder, and Michael Ulsh, SAE International Journal of Commercial Vehicles (2013)

Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Material Handling Equipment Deployment, Todd Ramsden, DOE Annual Progress Report (2013)

Hawaii Hydrogen Initiative Financial Scenario Analysis, Michael Penev, DOE Annual Progress Report (2013)


Sam Sprik

Data Sciences and Safety Team Lead