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Fuel Cells - a Future Technology?

Fuel cells are expected to contribute exceedingly to environmental improvements. However, both the successful diffusion of fuel cells and their environmental benefits are highly influenced by non-technical aspects. This study deals with the three general applications of fuel cells (stationary, transport, and portable), but focuses primarily on stationary fuel cells as energy supply for housing. The focus is selected because of the high relevance of energy consumption in households. Besides this, the introduction of fuel cells into a decentralised power generation system would cause significant and radical changes for the involved actors and networks. Starting with a description of the state of the art, we analyse social and political conditions for the market diffusion of fuel cells and make recommendations for future research.