Microbial fuel cells (MFC) are a new generation of fuel cells that employ the use of bacteria and convert the released energy into electrical energy. These cells run on food waste, sewage, and wastewater and are environmentally friendly since they don't burn fossil fuels to produce electricity. The bacteria present in the microbial fuel cell continue to generate electricity by replicating themselves, as long as the source (food) to nourish them is made available. There has been a considerable amount of investment in the research and development of these cells.
Growing demand for energy production with renewable and alternative fuel sources is gaining momentum and likely to create upswings for market growth. The idea of harnessing energy from bacteria was coined in 1911 by a professor of botany called M.C Potter. The market is in its growth and developmental stage and will continue to see a positive trend owing to the demand for renewable energy from all quarters.
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Under the Paris Agreement, countries around the world have intended to reduce their carbon footprints through NDCs or Nationally Determined Contributions. The current goals fall short of meeting the targets set at the Climate Conference, as per the International Renewable Energy Agency,. However, the 2020 revisions of NDCs represent an opportunity for countries to realign their national strategies and goals, which will require a more comprehensive deployment of renewable energy that amounts to 7.7 TW of installed capacity.
Investments play an important role in the deployment of renewable energy technologies in developing and developed countries. The introduction of renewable energy finance underlines the tremendous potential for countries to meet their climate change targets and help drive the global transition to low carbon-emission. For instance, the introduction of green bonds that help countries raise money for green projects is a step in the right direction.
Institutional investments by the World Bank and others also support renewable energy penetration and help in meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs). Furthermore, the ability to harness energy from waste is also gaining momentum to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels.
The food and beverage industry is one of the fastest-growing segments in the microbial fuel cell market. The food and beverage industry is a leading industry in Europe and is considered one of the significant contributors to the region's economy. As per FoodDrinkEurope, the total external trade accounted for USD 121 billion, where Europe held 18% due to high resurgent investments of about USD 3.2 billion in research and development. Furthermore, the industry's industry's annual turnover was around USD 1.23 trillion in 2017.
The food and beverage industry produces millions of tons of waste per year, further unlocking lucrative opportunities for the development of microbial fuel cells in the region. The wastewater is rich in organic compounds and serves as a fuel for the microorganism to produce electricity from the waste. Brewery manufacturing plants in Europe are one of the biggest producers of waste post-production. As per the Brewers of Europe, there are around 9500 breweries in Europe that create 2.3 million jobs. The increasing preferences for craft beers are further propelling market growth.
According to the International Monetary Fund World Economic, in 2018, North America stood first in terms of nominal GDP and second in terms of purchasing power across the globe. Its nominal GDP accounted for USD 19.39 trillion in 2017 and is expected to touch USD 24.53 trillion by 2023.
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North America is forecasted to hold a substantial value share in the microbial fuel cells market during the forecast period. The region's flourishing industrial sector and ever-growing population are fuelling the demand for higher energy generation. Concurrently, depleting fossil fuel reserves and environmental concerns are witnessing a seismic shift towards renewable energy. This is leading to considerable investment in the research and development of renewable energy sources. As per the UNESCO report, the total research and development spending in the U.S. was around 2.7% of the GDP. Thus, the increasing investments will propel the growth and development of the microbial fuel cell market during the forecast period.
North America is the largest producer of municipal solid waste globally. As per the Environmental Protection Agency, the total generation of municipal solid waste was around 267.8 million tons or roughly 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day. Waste to energy has emerged as the ideal solution for the challenges of energy scarcity as it provides a much cleaner and cheaper mode of addressing energy shortages while reducing the dependence on fossil fuels. The regulatory scenario in North America also creates a solid ground for clean energy generation and consumption, which is further surging the popularity of microbial fuel cells.
Furthermore, in the year 2017, Canada was home to the highest total of waste generation worldwide. As per the EPA, the country generated about 181 million tons of agricultural waste in 2018. This makes the microbial fuel cell market more lucrative in this region owing to the high quantity of waste generated.