Speed in understanding and implementing cost-effective scientific results is vital. So is the ability to understand the development of competing technologies and foresee how they will affect energy markets and future energy systems around the world.
Modern bioenergy systems, solar energy conversion technologies and wind power systems are steadily developing. Progress is being made in a number of different dimensions, reducing costs and improving competitiveness. Although challenges and opportunities may be identified in industrial practice, scientific research has a very important role to play. Scientific institutions can provide perspectives and competencies that are not available in the industrial environment. The academic setting ensures rapid implementation through teaching and the publication of academic research facilitates global dissemination.
There is fierce competition in the energy industry. While oil prices are still around the US$100 per barrel level, world market prices of solar photovoltaic panels, wind power plants and (in some markets) prices of natural gas and electricity are falling to levels that even the major companies have difficulties surviving under.
However, the world may prosper as old technologies perish. Cost reductions have made millions of people better off. Solar electricity is providing light and communication opportunities to poorer communities who have not had access to traditional power infrastructures before. But reducing costs and improving competitiveness is a complex process. Although results are often portrayed in a simplified linear way, for example, in the classic learning or experience curves, behind these simplified representations of “total cost data” lie many different improvements in components, production techniques, logistics, or business models.
Continued economic growth is creating price-raising competition for nonrenewable energy, while the increased deployment of renewable energy is providing opportunities for cost-cutting industrial learning. Thus, global economic development is no longer limited by fossil fuel reserves.
In this challenging and dynamic environment, we are delighted to launch Energy Science and Engineering. As an open access journal dedicated to the broad scope of energy supply and use, we hope to contribute by facilitating rapid global access to the results, from both scientific and engineering disciplines. We hope this journal will serve as an excellent platform for integrated research, education, and communication, particularly for those with results of immediate relevance in the energy industry.
As this first issue is published, we hope to see more relevant contributions come, facilitating the future development of energy systems which in turn will drive global improvements to quality of life.