Debunking the myths—Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) can work for the mass market

by Dr. Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy.

In 2014 the fuel cell market expanded rapidly across the globe. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Japan all saw significant growth. Several forces have combined to ensure ongoing adoption of fuel cell technology: public-private investment initiatives, government funding for infrastructure and consumer subsidies and falling production costs included. Most notable, however, is the commitment to future OEM launches of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

Toyota, Honda and Hyundai all recently announced plans to make FCEVs available to consumers. A hydrogen-powered version of Hyundai’s Tucson sport utility vehicle has already appeared in Southern California showrooms. In August 2014, Hyundai’s ix35 fuel cell model was driven a record distance for a hydrogen-powered production car on a single tank, covering 435 miles across three Scandinavian countries. Honda next year will offer Californians futuristic sedans that can travel 300 miles or more on a tank of hydrogen gas while emitting nothing but pure water vapor. And, Toyota’s FCEV the Mirai, already available in Japan, will become available in the U.S., UK, Germany and Denmark in summer 2015.

These FCEV developments have all occurred in the midst of the lowest oil prices in years. Questions have lingered has to how the drop in oil prices will affect natural gas and hydrogen, and there aren’t clear answers. But one thing does remain certain: oil prices will always be volatile (and are perhaps bouncing back already), and having alternative fuels available is necessary for energy security, economic and environmental purposes.

Despite progress on FCEVs, their environmental advantage of zero tailpipe emissions, and their ability to run without dependence on oil, misconceptions about fuel cells’ power, efficiency and cost persist.

It’s time to debunk some myths.

Myth #1: Hydrogen power isn’t efficient

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but accessing it for use requires extracting it from water or organic compounds. We produce diesel fuel and gasoline similarly, by refining and cleaning crude oil, a process we know harms the environment. While hydrogen comes in large part from natural gas, we can also extract it from renewable resources—making it not only efficient but also sustainable. Hydrogen can come from solar power, wind turbines and biogas without using any fossil fuels. As the energy market shifts more and more toward renewables, hydrogen remains a viable, “green” resource.

Also highlighting hydrogen’s efficiency, FCEVs emit zero carbon from their tailpipes. According to a report by the California Fuel Cell Partnership, even FCEVs that run on hydrogen derived from natural gas outshine gasoline-powered vehicles in efficiency and environmental impact, emitting 55 to 65 percent less carbon. Fuel cells also perform more efficiently than internal combustion engines, whether or not the hydrogen for the fuel cells comes from natural gas or renewables.

Myth #2: Hydrogen gas is dangerous

Hydrogen is just another fuel, it is no more dangerous or safer than other fuels such as gasoline, propane or natural gas, like all fuels it has a particular hazard set which must be respected.

Hydrogen in fact has a rapid diffusivity (3.8 times faster than natural gas), which means that when released, it dilutes quickly into a non-flammable concentration. The gasoline currently used poses an ignitable hazard for long after it’s been released, and when it catches fire the heat it generates can cause secondary fires. Conversely, hydrogen, because of its low emissivity, burns cooler—a person can put his/her hand next to a hydrogen flame and not get burned.

And, to assure the safety of using hydrogen on board vehicles using storage tanks, Toyota reported that they fired bullets at their carbon-fiber fuel tanks, and the bullets did little more than bounce off or make small dents.

Myth #3: FCEVs are too expensive to build so they aren’t a mass-market solution

Advances in fuel cell manufacturing and catalyst performance recently decreased the cost of fuel cell production dramatically. Gil Castillo, senior group manager of advanced vehicles for Hyundai in California, said costs have dropped 70% since the company began working on fuel cells in the late 1990s. Production has become so much less expensive that Hyundai has also announced it is leasing its hydrogen SUV for $499 a month, with fuel thrown in for free.

Manufacturers are working hard to further reduce the cost of FCEVs, and as they scale production for mass market, standard volume manufacturing and product engineering forces will help. In fact, Toyota recently mentioned that it has been able to streamline its FCEV manufacturing process by gaining Japanese government approval to build and inspect hydrogen tanks, which is expected to help reduce the enabling costs of installing fuel cells into electric vehicles.

Government funding initiatives and subsidies help too. On May 1, 2014, the California Energy Commission announced that it will invest $46.6 million to accelerate the development of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations in California in order to promote a consumer market for zero-emission fuel cell vehicles. Furthermore, in 2013, the Obama administration had already launched the U.S.’s hydrogen strategy nationwide through the launch of H2USA—a public-private partnership focused on advancing hydrogen infrastructure to support more transportation energy options for US consumers, including fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).

Myth #4: Filling FCEV tanks with hydrogen will be difficult and slow

Drivers don’t have to make significant changes to their refueling behaviors to fill up their FCEV with hydrogen. A similar ‘nozzle-to-car’ method is the norm and unlike many other alternative fuel vehicles, standards already exist. The fuel cell electric vehicles manufactured by Toyota, Hyundai and Honda already allow an ‘at-pump’ refuel that will take only a few minutes, and drivers do not have to fill up again for several hundred miles.

Myth #5: FCEVs can’t handle long journeys

FCEVs offer zero tailpipe emission motoring without compromising on performance and range. The ability to carry more energy on-board the fuel cell vehicle in comparison to a battery powered car means that the fuel cell vehicles have greater range. And performance has improved over time. An FCEV can now achieve a much longer range with an on-board hydrogen gas tank, making it competitive with conventional and hybrid vehicles. In a real-world test on California roads, National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers demonstrated that a fuel cell-powered Toyota Highlander SUV can travel more than 400 miles and achieve a fuel economy of 69 miles per gallon equivalent. In fact, hydrogen cars now coming onto the market have triple the range of most battery-powered electric cars.

With the advancement of fuel cell technology, the adoption of FCEVs becomes easier and more advantageous. Ever tightening global policies on carbon emissions will make their adoption necessary. Industry partners from OEMs to governments and fuel cell technology providers need to continue to work together to deliver hydrogen as a highly scalable and viable emission-free, mass-market energy alternative.

We’re excited about the opportunity that fuel cell technology offers to the automotive industry and beyond, and we look forward to welcoming further market advancements in the next few years as the technology and the vehicles enter the mainstream.

Toyota Bringing Hydrogen FCEVs to UK in Summer 2015

The Paris Motor Show began this week with news of Toyota’s intention to bring its Fuel Cell Sedan to Britain, Germany, Denmark and US in summer 2015. This announcement from the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer demonstrates that the imminent roll-out of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) to the consumer is now a reality and will give a welcome boost to efforts elsewhere to introduce these clean but practical electric vehicles.

The UK’s commitment to low emission vehicles is something we experienced first-hand at CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle 2014 last month and has been cited as a major factor as to why Toyota has chosen the UK as one of its ‘test bed’ markets. Already we’re seeing the UK invest in infrastructure to support FCEVs in the shape of the HyFive Project which is bringing refuelling stations to the Capital, also slated for arrival next year.

In Toyota’s own words hydrogen has great potential as an alternative fuel. It can be produced from a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind power; it is easy to store and transport; and when compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries.” Moreover, refuelling times, performance and range for FCEVs are all comparable to that of traditional combustion engine vehicles

A landmark announcement from Toyota, but expect to see more from others as the momentum builds towards the widespread roll out FCEVs and the fuelling infrastructure to support them.

Intelligent Energy Commitment to Innovation Reflected in Standing as British Patent Leader

According to the UK government ‘Energy and storage’ is one of ‘eight great technologies’ that will underpin future economic growth. This reflects what David Cameron said at the International Festival of Business in June where he spoke about the need to balance the British economy across multiple sectors like engineering and manufacturing, not just finance.

For any technology business, particularly one working in the fast-moving energy sector, intellectual property is what sets you apart from the crowd; it’s the fuel of our business. As such it’s reassuring to know that a report compiled by the UK Intellectual property Office found Intelligent Energy to be the top British patent applicant for ‘energy and storage’ technologies in 2013.

We value innovation at Intelligent Energy and this is evidenced by the volume of patents granted and pending to our name. We have filed over 80 patents for ‘energy and storage technology’ in the UK alone, almost thirty more than the next company. Combine this with over 350 granted patents globally and more than 450 patents pending across 250 patent families and you can get a picture of our commitment to ensuring that the technology we produce is the best and most advanced it can be.

Top UK Applicants


Source: Eight Great Technologies, Energy Storage, A Patent Overview. Intellectual Property Office 2014.

While Intelligent Energy is well known for our power dense, proprietary fuel cell power technologies, it is perhaps less know quite how broad our technology portfolio is. We also develop the wider components necessary to turn those fuel cell technologies into systems and products as well as the software capabilities to manage and optimise their performance and functionality. Intelligent Energy’s IP goes deeper still, encompassing fuel cell related manufacture and the generation of hydrogen fuel.

We at Intelligent Energy understand that intellectual property is the lifeblood of our business. As such, we will continue to invest in R&D so as to develop market-leading fuel cell solutions for the automotive, consumer electronic and distributed power sectors. By doing this we will maintain our position as an industry pioneer, making hydrogen fuel cells a commercial reality.

Hydrogen – Fuelling the Zero Emission Drive in the Golden State

California has long been a global leader in the adoption of new zero-emission technology – the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) programme for example, requires vehicle manufacturers to offer specific numbers of the cleanest car technologies available for sale, specifically hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)and has been designed to achieve long-term emission reduction goals.

 ZEV regulation was first adopted in California in 1990 and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Advanced Clean Cars Program requires that over 10% of new vehicle sales are electric drive by 2025.In March of 2012, Governor Jerry Brown, signed an executive order that established a goal of 1.5 million ZEVs on California’s roadways also by 2025.

Major automotive manufacturers such as Toyota and Hyundai have stated that they intend to make their FCEVs available to the motoring public from 2014/15. The car manufacturers are likely to first launch their fuel cell vehicles in geographies where plans to put in place hydrogen refuelling infrastructure are most advanced. These include Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, the UK, Korea and of course, California.

On the 1st of May, the California Energy Commission  announced that it will invest $46.6 million to accelerate the development of publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations in California in order to promote a consumer market for zero-emission fuel cell vehicles.The funding will progress the Governor’s executive order directing the state government to support and facilitate the rapid commercialisation of ZEVs in California, with a benchmark that the state’s zero-emission vehicle infrastructure will be able to support up to one million vehicles by 2020.The funding has been made to eight applicants through the Energy Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP), and includes six 100% renewable hydrogen refueling stations. It will add a further 28 new refueling stations across the state: 13 in Northern California and 15 in Southern California, strategically situated to create a refueling network along major corridors and in regional centres. In addition, a mobile refueller will provide added reliability to the early hydrogen refueling network by providing refueling capability when stations are off-line.

These 28 new hydrogen refueling stations are in addition to the nine existing refueling locations and the 17 stations currently under development in California and will bring the total up to 54. This is a significant milestone for the initiative, which aims to establish a total 100-station network across the state to support the full commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles.

Interestingly, it also recently emerged that Toyota itself is not just involved in the manufacture and introduction of FCEVs, but is also directly contributing to the development of a hydrogen fuel infrastructure in California by injecting at least $7.2 million in First Element Fuel, a company planning to operate pumps and sell hydrogen for passenger cars.

As a further part of its drive towards increased numbers of ZEVs and to advance hydrogen transportation, the California Energy Commission and Air Resources Board announced at the end of April that the state of California itself has joined H2 USA. This is a public–private partnership led by the U.S. Department of Energy focused on  establishing a hydrogen fueling infrastructure and accelerating the commercialization of FCEVs.

As the above recent developments demonstrate, the move towards zero-emission technology for transport is gathering pace in California with refuelling infrastructure to enable the commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicles beginning to take shape. California is once again taking a leading role in making zero-emission vehicles a practical and large scale reality.

Fuel cells: is there enough platinum? Yes!

In late March, Bloomberg posted an article – ‘Fuel-Cell Boom Hampered by Need for Platinum, GE Says’ – debating the future of fuel cells in the context of a limited supply of platinum. While the article was of interest, some of the information presented was inaccurate. This blog post seeks to provide a more balanced and informed view of the requirement for platinum in fuel cells.

Platinum is indeed highly important in the production of fuel cells, it serves as a catalyst that facilitates the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen producing electricity with only water as a by-product.

However, unlike many other metals, platinum is almost always recycled. As a result, most of the platinum mined is still available for use and primary platinum is only part of the total resource. A report from a US Geological Survey revealed that the world platinum production capacity, an approximation of maximum supply, could increase by as much as 69,000 kg from primary capacity and 22,000 kg from recycling. Recycling rates are likely to be significant as platinum can be efficiently recycled from fuel cells.

It has been suggested in the past that with the mass commercialisation of fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), the world’s annual platinum production will fail significantly to meet demand. However, a report presented to the DoE shows that the platinum industry has the potential to meet a scenario where FCEVs achieve 50% market penetration by 2050. Also, there is very little to suggest that platinum supply is dwindling. Studies have concluded that there are sufficient accessible reserves to increase supply by up to 5% per year for each of the next 50 years which will allow for the build-up of a fleet of 1.7 billion FCEVS. Thus, detailed studies of platinum availability suggest that this should not be a limiting factor in the commercialisation of fuel cells.

Companies in the fuel cell space continue to improve performance while lowering platinum loading. According to the US DoE, the amount of platinum in PEM fuel cells has decreased by around 80% during the past decade. This trend is expected to continue, albeit at a reduced rate with smaller incremental improvements.

Furthermore, Toyota recently announced that the latest iteration of its fuel cell has reduced platinum loadings to around 30 g. With a target sale price of $50,000 for its fuel cell vehicle, the metal would contribute less than 3% of the total vehicle cost. A significant component, but by no means prohibitive or a showstopper.

To conclude, while the demand for platinum will undoubtedly increase as fuel cell technology becomes mainstream, there will continue to be a ready supply of the metal to support the on-going commercialisation of this exciting technology.

My generation: new power sources for emergency services and disaster relief

When the lights go out, that’s not all we will miss. Energy keeps us warm, cooks our food and allows us to communicate; whether at work, with our friends, with our families or when the need arises, with the emergency services.

UNICEF’s official guidelines recommend households at risk assemble a “disaster kit” including essentials such as warm clothes, food and first aid supplies. However a second glance reveals that three of the eight items are directly dependent on energy – namely emergency cooking equipment, a portable radio with spare batteries, and a flashlight – reiterating how dependent on energy we are. In today’s world, many of us would rely on our mobile phone instead of the radio.

Last month, storms and flooding in the UK left tens of thousands without power as they were cut off from the national electricity grid. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms and flooding often cause damage to essential infrastructure including power and telecoms, leaving communities isolated – and the emergency services need to carefully plan every operation taking this disruption into account.

Hospitals or other critical parts of our infrastructure will often switch to a generator in the event of a power outage, but unless you live in a rural area there’s a good chance you have never considered this type of backup power necessary. Although some hospitals in the UK are becoming self-sufficient with independent primary power, the kind of emergency backup generator used by smaller sites is only allowed to operate for 200 hours every year, and only in the event of an emergency power failure or for routine testing and maintenance. These basic diesel powered generators cost an order of magnitude less than primary power solutions, but this too comes at a price with significant air pollution, poor fuel efficiency and high maintenance costs. Most importantly, they are not designed to provide continuous power.

For the emergency services today, diesel generators are essential. Scaling from the small units described above to container-sized workhorses, they provide portable power that can be transported to the affected area providing electricity to power incident room computers and communications. From such a base of operations, generators can also be deployed to power essential medical services, pumps and lighting for the communities affected by disasters. Here, distributed hydrogen fuel cell power offers a number of advantages for future relief efforts. Firstly, fuel cells are approximately two to three times more efficient than diesel engines (so use a lot less fuel), they are also quiet, require little maintenance (because there are few moving parts), and they produce only water vapour – adding no air pollution to the affected area.

Upp personal energy device

The Upp personal energy device provides long lasting portable energy

Effective communication is essential to coordinate emergency response, and this relies on responders in the field having regular communication by radios or smartphones. Today, these are battery powered, but recent developments in fuel cells such as the Upp portable energy device (pictured) offer enough stored energy in a single refill cartridge to power a smartphone for up to a week (depending on usage and charging variables). In the home, this can give peace-of-mind that power will be available when needed. In the field, this could mean more productive use of time, increased range for search and rescue operations, and improved safety for the emergency workers who risk their lives to help people in need.

We have illustrated the potential of fuel cells when natural disaster strikes, but emergency services from mountain rescue to the coastguard could also stand to benefit from these advances in technology. Whenever an emergency service worker is operating where the security of the power grid is removed, fuel cells present new and attractive possibilities.

This is only the beginning. In the future, new fuel cell technology will offer tremendous opportunities to support people in need.

Picture this: Ready to scale at JSAE 2013

Last month, Intelligent Energy attended the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan (JSAE) Annual Spring Congress in Yokohama City, Japan.

The spring congress is the society’s technical paper presentation event where automotive engineers and researchers present the results of their latest researches and developments. The event coincided with the Automotive Engineering Exposition and was attended by 4,500 specialists with as many as 500 technical papers presented.

Established in 1947, the society aims to “promote scientific culture, expand the industrial economy, and improve the quality of people’s lives by furthering the development of automobile science and technology.”

This year’s event witnessed an ever greater focus on electric vehicles (EV), hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHV), with every automotive showcasing their kinetic energy recovery systems.

The team was on hand to discuss recent successes, including those of SMILE FC, the joint venture between Intelligent Energy and Suzuki Motor Corporation, which earlier in the year, established a ready-to-scale production plant for its fuel cell systems in Yokohama, Japan

Check out some of our images from the event below!

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JSAE Annual Spring Conference, Yokohama City, Japan

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UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) / British Embassy Trade & Investment Department

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Intelligent Energy booth at JSAE Annual Spring Conference, Yokohama City, Japan (both above)

US DoE awards Jeff Serfass for fuel cell leadership

The US Department of Energy (DoE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program last week presented a Special Recognition Award to Managing Director of the California Hydrogen Business Council (CHBC), Jeff Serfass in recognition of “outstanding leadership, commitment and collaboration in developing a unified industry stakeholder association, and for contributions to the DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program.”

This award was presented to Mr Serfass by Sunita Satyapal, DoE’s Manager of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program for his former role as President of the National Hydrogen Association alongside the leaders of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association and the former U.S. Fuel Cell Council at DOE’s 2013 Annual Merit Review. 

Dr Satyapal said: “Jeff’s service over more than 22 years is especially well known for his outstanding support of student education and outreach. He continues to be a very strong advocate for hydrogen energy in numerous other venues, always ensuring that hydrogen and fuel cells are well represented as he branches out into other clean energy technology areas.”

As we move ever closer towards the commercialisation of hydrogen in transportation, stationary and now consumer electronics, we are pleased to see early pioneers such as Jeff Serfass recognised for their contributions to the hydrogen industry.

Jeff continues to play an active role as President of the Hydrogen Education Foundation, which produces innovative national competitions and events such as the 2012 Washington Fuel Cell Summit.

Once again, we’d like to offer Jeff our congratulations on a well-deserved award!

Intelligent Energy

UKH2Mobility publishes its full report on the future of FCEVs in the UK

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Last week, the UKH2Mobility project published its full report on the potential of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) in the UK. The report provides further details and background to the findings published on 4 February 2013 – Future of Hydrogen Powered Cars Mapped by the UKH2Mobility Project.

The UKH2Mobility project brings together leading businesses from the automotive, energy, infrastructure and retail sectors with government, and provides a ‘roadmap’ for the introduction of vehicles and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in the UK.

Co-founded by Intelligent Energy, UKH2Mobility is a ground breaking industry led task force, which includes twelve industry participants, together with three UK government departments – The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Department for Transport and the Department for Energy and Climate Change in addition to the European Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.

Key findings of the roadmap show, that by 2030:

  • FCEVs will be at least cost-competitive with conventional vehicles
  • A network of 1,150 HRS can cover the whole country
  • 1.6 million FCEVs could be on UK roads
  • The HRS network is past its break-even point
  • Hydrogen production and retailing can be an attractive and profitable business, leading to the natural growth of the HRS network as the FCEV fleet grows
  • CO2 emissions (including fuel production) can be 75% lower for FCEVs than for equivalent diesel vehicles, and on a trajectory to zero CO2 emissions by 2050
  • FCEVs will be on course to reach a 20-50% market share, in line with the DECC 2050 Pathway Analysis.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “Securing new economic opportunities for the UK, diversifying our national energy supply and driving down carbon emissions go to the heart of my job in government. The findings of the report demonstrate hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles can have a real impact on all three.

“It is very positive that all the UKH2Mobility partners will be joining us in the next phase of the project where they will be joined by Sainsbury’s. Successful commercialisation of the technology will require government to work in strong partnership with industry.

“Prompt action is needed to ensure the potential benefits are realised by businesses and consumers in the UK and work on the next phase will start straight away”.

The next few years are critical to the commercialisation of FCEVs and hydrogen refuelling in the UK. A number of major carmakers, specifically in Japan, are already targeting to make FCEVs available to the public by 2015.

The UK Government has stated its desire for the UK to be at the global forefront of the design, development, manufacture and use of ULEVs. This reports shows that the UK’s automotive sector is well positioned to take a role in the commercialisation of FCEV and hydrogen refuelling technologies.

The second phase of the UKH22Mobility project, to be completed in 2013, will build on the fact base produced in the first phase. It aims to develop the integrated business case for realising all parts of the roadmap and address key barriers to the introduction of FCEVs to the UK.

Click here to read the full report.

Outlook for 2013 (Part 3): Future Telecoms Infrastructure

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In the third part of our outlook series, we take a look at the changing dynamics of the always-on telecoms infrastructure.

Telecoms infrastructure across the globe is rapidly changing as a result of increasing consumer demand and investment by operators. We expect that this demand will be significantly influenced by requirements from developing nations, with increased investment in telecoms. However, these markets face a critical issue – unreliable electrical grid supply.

Roughly 70 per cent of the approximately 400,000 mobile towers in India (one of the biggest telecoms markets) face electrical grid outages in excess of 8 hours a day. To mitigate this, telecoms tower operators currently use diesel generators and batteries to generate power. This has led to the telecoms tower industry in India consuming over 2.5 billion litres of diesel annually – see our whitepaper on The True Cost of Providing Energy to Telecom Towers in India for reference.

The rising operating costs, the logistical issues and the environmental cost of using diesel means the industry has to look for alternative solutions for the future.

Renewable energy technology

In light of these issues, we can expect the telecoms industry to focus on practical cleaner and cost-competitive solutions to overcome the power challenge and huge cost implications – in addition to the above, read our whitepaper on Green Solutions for Telecom Towers.

When faced with grid failure, telecom operators need a supply of reliable energy to keep the critical systems going. In essence, it needs to be always on. We expect telecoms operators to invest in technologies such as fuel cell back-up power systems as they offer longer, continuous and durable run time with the added bonus of zero emissions. Additionally (and arguably more importantly for developing nations), the cost is significantly cheaper than using diesel.

Consolidation

On a macro level, we can expect to see a lot more consolidation from providers in order to achieve scale. The increase in demand for telecom services, the rising operational expenditure and the increased competition in the market will see an increase in mergers and acquisition.

From a network operator’s point of view, we have already seen the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK to form Everything Everywhere, allowing them to successfully compete for the 4G services rollout. The consolidation of the market will also present an opportunity for niche players to succeed based on innovative technologies and smart business models. The key opportunity lies in each operator gauging its capabilities and making the business decision to either consolidate or specialise in its own area.

Government subsidies

The other trend that we can expect to see is that governments will begin to invest in supporting telecoms infrastructure. For example, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has started granting subsidies to encourage the successful development of telecom towers. As the public sector continues to realise the opportunities that connectivity affords not only the population but the economy as a whole, we expect to see more support for telecoms operators and investment in the infrastructure to sustain this progress.

There is no doubt that the telecoms infrastructure will continue to evolve as fixed and mobile communications increase. The key to success lies in choosing the right, sustainable technology and leveraging the available resources at the right time to ensure that the customers stay connected, and the telecoms infrastructure remains always-on.