Volume 1 Issue 5 May 2016

Volume 1 Issue 5

Power grids put to the test

Failures in power distribution grids can affect thousands of customers but understanding their causes remains elusive. Ji et al. analyse large-scale power outage data during both a hurricane and daily operations and find that local failures disproportionally affect non-local regions of grid infrastructure.

See Ji et al. 1, 16052 (2016).

Image: Yun Wei, Henry Mei. Cover design: Alex Wing.


  • Editorial |

    In this issue, Nature Energy takes a closer look at some of the ways in which the social sciences are addressing problems in energy and climate change.


Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News and Views |

    Rechargeable aqueous batteries are attractive energy storage technologies owing to their low cost and high safety, but suffer from poor electrochemical performance. Now, an aqueous mild-acid-based Zn/MnO2 battery that operates via a conversion mechanism is shown to have a long-term cycling stability.

    • Seongmin Ha
    •  & Kyu Tae Lee
  • News and Views |

    Oxygen reduction at the cathode of fuel cells typically requires a platinum-based material to catalyse the reaction, but lower-cost, more stable catalysts are sought. Now, an intrinsically conductive metal–organic framework based on cheaper elements is shown to be a durable, structurally well-defined catalyst for this reaction.

    • Mark D. Allendorf
  • News and Views |

    The resilience of distribution power grids is put to the test by daily operations as well as by extreme weather events such as hurricanes. An analysis of blackout data in upstate New York now reveals that larger blackouts have a disproportionate effect on grid reliability.

    • Ian Dobson
  • News and Views |

    Economic agents have varying expectations on oil price fluctuations that play an important role in determining the timing and magnitude of oil price shocks. A study now shows that heterogeneous expectations should be included when modelling oil price shocks to grasp their impact on macroeconomic outcomes and energy policies.

    • Baltasar Manzano

Perspective & Review

  • Perspective |

    When making decisions about energy, consumers and policymakers typically overlook moral issues, which can have profound societal consequences. This Perspective explores how ideas from justice and ethics can provide a framework to reconsider energy problems and better inform decision-making processes.

    • Benjamin K. Sovacool
    • , Raphael J. Heffron
    • , Darren McCauley
    •  & Andreas Goldthau
  • Perspective |

    Current approaches to energy systems invoke individual rational consumers, despite the fact that their decision-making cannot be simplified so readily. This Perspective explores the concept of consumers as part of a wider transition, offering a typology of the users who are shaping and enacting system change.

    • Johan Schot
    • , Laur Kanger
    •  & Geert Verbong
  • Review Article |

    Meeting carbon emissions commitments while providing necessary energy services means reducing fossil fuel consumption. This Review presents social science insights for increasing adoption of low-carbon and low-consumption technologies and engendering practice changes among households and organizations.

    • Paul C. Stern
    • , Kathryn B. Janda
    • , Marilyn A. Brown
    • , Linda Steg
    • , Edward L. Vine
    •  & Loren Lutzenhiser


  • Article |

    Rechargeable aqueous batteries are attractive owing to their relatively low cost and safety. Here the authors report an aqueous zinc/manganese oxide battery that operates via a conversion reaction mechanism and exhibits a long-term cycling stability.

    • Huilin Pan
    • , Yuyan Shao
    • , Pengfei Yan
    • , Yingwen Cheng
    • , Kee Sung Han
    • , Zimin Nie
    • , Chongmin Wang
    • , Jihui Yang
    • , Xiaolin Li
    • , Priyanka Bhattacharya
    • , Karl T. Mueller
    •  & Jun Liu
  • Article |

    There is an intensive effort in developing multi-shelled metal oxide nanostructures for lithium-ion battery applications. Now, a metal anion-adsorption mechanism, as opposed to the conventional cation adsorption on carbonaceous templates, is demonstrated in the synthesis of vanadium oxide hollow microspheres, which exhibit excellent battery performance.

    • Jiangyan Wang
    • , Hongjie Tang
    • , Lijuan Zhang
    • , Hao Ren
    • , Ranbo Yu
    • , Quan Jin
    • , Jian Qi
    • , Dan Mao
    • , Mei Yang
    • , Yun Wang
    • , Porun Liu
    • , Yu Zhang
    • , Yuren Wen
    • , Lin Gu
    • , Guanghui Ma
    • , Zhiguo Su
    • , Zhiyong Tang
    • , Huijun Zhao
    •  & Dan Wang
  • Article |

    Power grids often fail during extreme weather events such as hurricanes, leaving millions of customers without electricity. A large-scale analysis of the operation of power grids in an extended geographical area now reveals that such events exacerbate vulnerabilities that are obscured during normal operation.

    • Chuanyi Ji
    • , Yun Wei
    • , Henry Mei
    • , Jorge Calzada
    • , Matthew Carey
    • , Steve Church
    • , Timothy Hayes
    • , Brian Nugent
    • , Gregory Stella
    • , Matthew Wallace
    • , Joe White
    •  & Robert Wilcox
  • Article |

    Efficient catalysts for the oxygen-evolution reaction, especially in alkaline media, are highly desired because of their application in various energy technologies. Now, a gold-supported NiCeOx catalyst is shown to have excellent catalytic activity due to synergistic geometric and electronic effects.

    • Jia Wei Desmond Ng
    • , Max García-Melchor
    • , Michal Bajdich
    • , Pongkarn Chakthranont
    • , Charlotte Kirk
    • , Aleksandra Vojvodic
    •  & Thomas F. Jaramillo