Fuel Cell UAV Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2022 - 2027)

The Fuel Cell UAV Market is segmented by End-user (Commercial, Military) and Geography.

Market Snapshot

Fuel Cell UAV Market
Study Period: 2018-2027
Base Year: 2021
Fastest Growing Market: Asia Pacific
Largest Market: North America
CAGR: >18 %
Fuel Cell UAV Market Share

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Market Overview

Conventional UAVs use gasoline or jet fuel for their operations. Gasoline and kerosene are non-renewable resources, which are gradually depleting globally. The continuous use of such non-renewable energy makes them scarce. The increasing demand for these fuels, which have limited their supply makes these fuels expensive. Due to depletion of fossil fuels, researchers are looking for alternative sources of fuel that will help power UAVs.

Recently, hydrogen fuel-cells have emerged as a viable alternative fuel to replace Li-ion batteries in mid to large size drones, and their efficiency in terms of weight/power ratios are increasing rapidly. They offer compelling value for UAVs due to improved reliability over small internal combustion engines, enhancing safe and low maintenance operation.

Scope of the report

The present generation of UAVs ranges from large-sized ones (powered by internal combustion engine) that are deployed for specific mission profiles to small electric-powered UAVs that are suited for commercial resource monitoring and military surveillance missions.

A hydrogen fuel cell converts the chemical energy stored in a tank of hydrogen fuel into electricity. Since hydrogen is not solely a source of energy, proper storage is required after extraction till it is ready to be used in a fuel cell to produce electricity. When hydrogen is combined with oxygen within the fuel-cell, and the byproduct water is removed, the fuel-cell can generate electricity.

The report includes only the revenue generated from the sales of fuel cell UAVs and excludes the revenue generated from the sale of individual components, spare parts, and aftermarket services.

North America
Rest of World

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Key Market Trends

Preference for integration of alternative power sources in UAVs

UAV systems powered by fuel-cells operate longer than their battery counterparts, with the same benefits of low thermal and noise signature. Since the unique design features are empowering alternative uses for UAVs, the development of newer advanced engines is being promoted worldwide.

The continuous improvement in technology and involvement from various industry leaders has made the development of fuel-cells for UAV successful. For instance, China-based MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology developed a military drone, HyDrone 1800, which features a next-gen hydrogen technology that allows it to operate in extreme weather conditions with efficiency. The drone performs functions, such as intelligence gathering, border patrol, aerial fire support, laser designation, and battle management services.

The inclination toward deploying UAVs has also contributed to the growth of fuel-cell-powered UAVs. Various defense contractors across the globe have either developed or are on the verge of developing necessary capabilities to offer fuel-cell-powered UAVs that can augment the existing intelligence competencies of military organizations. For instance, in December 2017, Ballard received a follow-on contract from Insitu, a Boeing subsidiary, for extended durability testing of the next-generation 1.3-kilowatt (kW) fuel-cell propulsion system to power test flights of its ScanEagle UAV platform. Such contracts are expected to drive the development of fuel-cell-powered UAVs that can deliver next-generation battlefield intelligence capabilities to the military forces.

Fuel Cell UAV Market Size

North America to Witness Rapid Growth

The US has a vast border and necessitates surveillance operations to ensure national security. This has led to an increase in the demand for fuel-cell-powered UAVs with enhancing endurance capabilities to suit the operational capabilities of the US border patrol forces.

Moreover, the significant deployment of tactical UAVs in military and defense applications supports the domestic UAV fuel-cell market in the region. A major portion of the demand for fuel cell UAVs is generated due to the inherent longer endurance that renders them extremely viable for conducting a plethora of missions such as surveillance and enable real-time data transmission. The increased demand for UAVs has resulted in the emergence of several business opportunities in the region. Numerous contracts are being handed out to cater to the broad clientele. For instance, in June 2018, Ballard Power Systems’ subsidiary Protonex secured purchase orders for the delivery of 13 new fuel-cell propulsion systems for installation onboard US Navy’s Ion Tiger UAVs and was scheduled to be delivered by the end of the year. Product innovation is a primary focus in the market and vendors are continuously investing in R&D activities to enhance their product offering.

 Fuel Cell UAV Market Analysis

Competitive Landscape

The fuel cell UAV market is moderately concentrated, with a limited number of global players. The market demands advancements in technology, high technical expertise, and high initial investment to design and manufacture fuel-cells that comply with the required specifications set by regulatory authorities. Key vendors have invested heavily in R&D, which has led to continuous improvement and innovation in the product. However, the possibility of change in key vendors is moderate as the threat of new entrants in this field is moderate.

Fuel cells are more beneficial than conventional fuel systems as they do not affect the environment and the abundance of hydrogen in the atmosphere makes it easier to obtain and store for future use. It has better efficiency, operates silently, and undergoes complete combustion, which ensures that it is cost-efficient compared to the conventional kerosene jet fuel systems. However, the fuel-cell UAVs are costlier than their counterparts, which has currently limited the adoption of the technology. The scenario is expected to improve in the future with economies of scale driving the associated costs of production and driving mass adoption.

Table of Contents


    1. 1.1 Study Assumptions

    2. 1.2 Scope of the Study




    1. 4.1 Market Overview

    2. 4.2 Market Drivers

    3. 4.3 Market Restraints

    4. 4.4 Industry Attractiveness - Porter's Five Forces Analysis

      1. 4.4.1 Threat of New Entrants

      2. 4.4.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers

      3. 4.4.3 Bargaining Power of Suppliers

      4. 4.4.4 Threat of Substitute Products

      5. 4.4.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry


    1. 5.1 End-user

      1. 5.1.1 Commercial

      2. 5.1.2 Military

    2. 5.2 Geography

      1. 5.2.1 North America

      2. 5.2.2 Europe

      3. 5.2.3 Asia-Pacific

      4. 5.2.4 Rest of World


    1. 6.1 Vendor Market Share

    2. 6.2 Company Profiles

      1. 6.2.1 Fuel Cell Manufacturers

        1. Cella Energy Limited

        2. Doosan Corporation

        3. EnergyOR Technologies

        4. HES Energy Systems Pte. Ltd.

        5. Intelligent Energy Limited

        6. MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology Co., Ltd.

        7. Sierra Lobo, Inc.

        8. Spectronik Pte Ltd.

        9. Ultra Electronics

      2. 6.2.2 UAV Manufacturers

        1. AeroVironment Inc.

        2. Elbit Systems Ltd.

        3. IAI Group

        4. Aeryon Labs Inc.

        5. ISS Aerospace


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Frequently Asked Questions

The Fuel Cell UAV Market market is studied from 2018 - 2027.

The Fuel Cell UAV Market is growing at a CAGR of >18% over the next 5 years.

Asia Pacific is growing at the highest CAGR over 2021- 2026.

North America holds highest share in 2021.

AeroVironment Inc., Elbit Systems Ltd., MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology Co., Ltd., IAI Group, HES Energy Systems Pte. Ltd. are the major companies operating in Fuel Cell UAV Market.

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