Volume 3, Issue 11
April 30, 2017 – May 6, 2017
Jason Mulderrig | Will Atkinson | Rohit Dilip | Anushka Dasgupta

Fossil Fuels:
OPEC Continues to Influence Oil Markets While the Market Awaits an Update
April 28, 2017 | Forbes | Tortoise Investments
Two months ago, OPEC oil cuts began to take effect – resulting in a high rate of compliance from OPEC and non-OPEC participating countries. As a result, oil prices worldwide have begun to stabilize and US oil inventory can be successfully exported into the global oil market. In order to maximize these benefits the global oil industry has experienced, Tortoise Investments believes that OPEC will extend the oil cuts through the end of this calendar year. -JPM

“The future of energy isn’t fossil fuels or renewables, it’s nuclear fusion” 
April 19, 2017 | Forbes/Medium | Ethan Siegel
This non-technical piece motivates the need for fusion energy by pointing out shortcomings of other sectors – fossil-fuels are high-polluting and limited, solar and wind are intermittent, and nuclear fission has safety concerns. Fusion carries fewer of these downsides, but has not reached a point where energy production outweighs the input. Compare this introduction to this more realistic New York Times piece, and to this detailed Andlinger Center distillate. -WA

The Electric Car Revolution Now Faces Its Biggest Test
April 24, 2017 | Bloomberg | Tom Randall
In this Bloomberg article, Randall points out how the American electric car industry still heavily depends on subsidies, due to the high price tag of electric car batteries and the absence of competitive electric cars occupying the sub-$30,000 price spectrum. Even though the subsidies for the industry are set to expire in the near future, the electric car industry is still poised for growth in the next few years. This growth will come from reduced battery prices, improved energy density and range, and an expanded high speed charging network. -JPM

Solar Energy:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Simple processing of back-contacted silicon heterojunction solar cells using selective-area crystalline growth
April 24, 2017 | Nature Energy | Tomasi et al.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Crystalline-silicon solar cells have theoretically defined upper limits on voltage and current, which collectively determine their output power. The voltage boundary is achievable with current technologies; however, the current boundary requires a very complex setup. This paper builds on previous research that established a world record in efficiency by simplifying the architecture for maximizing current output of a crystalline-silicon solar cell. This has implications for solar energy in general, and for the scalability of crystalline-silicon solar cell technologies. -RD

Intrinsic non-radiative voltage losses in fullerene-based organic solar cells
April 10, 2017 | Nature Energy | Benduhn et al.
Organic solar cells are rapidly approaching the effectiveness of conventional devices. They currently suffer from a lower open circuit voltage, which decreases their utility. This study examines non radiative voltage losses, and links them to electron-vibration coupling. This would mean that such losses are unavoidable in organic solar cells, which suggests an upper limit to the utility of such devices. -RD