Fuel cell-powered UAV sales are growing at 13.4% annually, a rate of growth that will see the market reach $5.38 billion globally by 2032, according to a report by Allied Market Research.

Growth factors include a rise in demand for improved surveillance, increase in need for higher payload capacity UAVs, and supportive growth through regulatory compliance.

According to the report, the global fuel cell UAV industry size generated $1.56 billion in 2022.

Increase in security issues and cyber threat and high cost of fuel cells for UAV solutions hamper the growth of the market. But technological advancements in military applications and surge in public-private partnerships to offer remunerative opportunities for the expansion of the fuel cell UAV market during the forecast period.

Depending on product type, the hydrogen fuel cell segment held the highest market share in 2022, accounting for more than half of the global fuel cell UAV market revenue and is estimated to maintain its leadership status throughout the forecast period. This is owing to the rise in environmental concerns and government authorities are shifting toward a hydrogen economy by executing numerous policies to develop hydrogen-based fuel cells and hydrogen refueling stations for vehicles. However, the solid oxide fuel cell segment is projected to register the highest CAGR of 14.9% from 2023 to 2032, as the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) can operate at high temperatures, which reduces the need for costly catalysts, such as ruthenium.

Leading market players include AeroVironment, Ballard, Boeing, Elbit Systems, EnergyOR and General Atomics.
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