Volume 1 Issue 7 July 2016

Volume 1 Issue 7

Knowing the unknowns

The recent low oil prices and their continued uncertainty are affecting global markets and raising concerns about what the future may look like. McCollum et al. use a series of scenarios to explore the impacts of different oil price futures on the broader energy system and their key uncertainties.

See McCollum et al. 1, 16077 (2016).

Image: © Anan Kaewkhammul / Alamy Stock Photo. Cover design: Alex Wing.


  • Editorial |

    A third of the world's installed wind energy capacity is in China, but technological and policy challenges need to be addressed to make the most of the country's wind resources.


  • Comment |

    The framing of funding programmes can sustain existing ways of conceptualizing particular problems, as well as create new ones. Yet, without more prominent roles for social sciences and humanities, the techno-economic conceptualization of energy consumers could hinder long-term low-carbon aspirations.

    • Chris Foulds
    •  & Toke Haunstrup Christensen

Research Highlights

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Persistent and significant curtailment has cast concern over the prospects of wind power in China. A comprehensive assessment of the production of energy from wind has identified grid-integrated wind generation potential at 11.9–14% of China's projected energy demand by 2030.

    • Jiahai Yuan
  • News & Views |

    Energy storage offers potential to support a changing electricity sector, but investors remain uncertain about its attractiveness. Analysis now shows that this can be overcome for battery technology by providing more than one storage service in a single facility.

    • Elena Fumagalli
  • News & Views |

    The major obstacle in the development of Li–S batteries is the undesired dissolution of polysulfide intermediates produced during electrochemical reactions. Now, a metal–organic framework-based separator is shown to mitigate the problem, leading to stable long cycles.

    • Christian Serre
  • News & Views |

    The conversion of low-grade waste heat into electrical energy is an attractive opportunity to harvest a sustainable energy resource. A thermo-osmotic energy conversion process that uses Earth-abundant materials has now been shown to convert waste heat into electrical energy from sources at temperatures as low as 40 °C.

    • William A. Phillip



  • Article |

    The recent drop in oil prices is having a profound impact on global energy markets, raising questions about how these markets might evolve over the long term. This study uses scenarios to assess the energy and emissions impacts of diverging oil price futures and which uncertainties they depend upon.

    • David L. McCollum
    • , Jessica Jewell
    • , Volker Krey
    • , Morgan Bazilian
    • , Marianne Fay
    •  & Keywan Riahi
  • Article |

    Batteries are promising to support energy systems based on intermittent renewable energy, yet their investment attractiveness remains low. Using a techno-economic model, Stephan et al. find that returns can be increased and risks reduced if batteries are used for multiple stationary applications.

    • A. Stephan
    • , B. Battke
    • , M. D. Beuse
    • , J. H. Clausdeinken
    •  & T. S. Schmidt
  • Article |

    The grain boundaries in thin-film perovskite solar cells are responsible for non-radiative carrier recombination, which is deleterious for the optoelectronic performance. Son et al. show how to passivate the grain boundaries by using excess CH3NH3I in the precursor solution, achieving efficiencies of 20.4%.

    • Dae-Yong Son
    • , Jin-Wook Lee
    • , Yung Ji Choi
    • , In-Hyuk Jang
    • , Seonhee Lee
    • , Pil J. Yoo
    • , Hyunjung Shin
    • , Namyoung Ahn
    • , Mansoo Choi
    • , Dongho Kim
    •  & Nam-Gyu Park
  • Article |

    Increasing generation of clean energy from wind resources will help China meet its 2030 energy-mix target and combat climate change. Davidson et al. model the wind energy generation potential of China, estimating a grid-integrated potential of 2.6 PWh per year in 2030.

    • Michael R. Davidson
    • , Da Zhang
    • , Weiming Xiong
    • , Xiliang Zhang
    •  & Valerie J. Karplus
  • Article |

    The efficiency of organic solar cells depends on the timescale of charge separation, with fast separation achieved through large driving forces. Liu et al. show that non-fullerene organic blends exhibit fast charge separation and efficiency of 9.5% even in the presence of only small driving forces.

    • Jing Liu
    • , Shangshang Chen
    • , Deping Qian
    • , Bhoj Gautam
    • , Guofang Yang
    • , Jingbo Zhao
    • , Jonas Bergqvist
    • , Fengling Zhang
    • , Wei Ma
    • , Harald Ade
    • , Olle Inganäs
    • , Kenan Gundogdu
    • , Feng Gao
    •  & He Yan
  • Article |

    Heat recovery from sources with temperatures below 100 C can provide a significant amount of energy, but it is difficult to achieve with current technologies. Straub et al. devise a thermo-osmotic energy conversion process that can generate power from heat sources at temperatures as low as 40 C.

    • Anthony P. Straub
    • , Ngai Yin Yip
    • , Shihong Lin
    • , Jongho Lee
    •  & Menachem Elimelech
  • Article |

    One of the major problems in Li–S batteries is the undesired shuttling of lithium polysulfides between electrodes. Here the authors present a metal–organic framework-based separator to mitigate the shuttle effect, leading to stable long cycles.

    • Songyan Bai
    • , Xizheng Liu
    • , Kai Zhu
    • , Shichao Wu
    •  & Haoshen Zhou