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This month we look at lithium-metal batteries, cadmium telluride solar cells, the electrochemical reduction of CO2, the impact of climate changes and more.  

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  • Behavioural interventions can reduce energy consumption and hence carbon emissions among households. Khanna et al. compare the effectiveness of different types of monetary and non-monetary household interventions using a machine learning-assisted meta-analysis, and examine the situations where each is most useful.

    • Tarun M. Khanna
    • Giovanni Baiocchi
    • Jan C. Minx
  • Light-driven catalytic conversion of CO2 to fuels and chemicals presents a way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but new strategies are needed to improve performance. Here the authors find that greenhouse effects can be exploited in photothermal catalysts to enhance their ability to produce methane and carbon monoxide.

    • Mujin Cai
    • Zhiyi Wu
    • Xiaohong Zhang
  • Algorithms are critical to modern energy systems but their design often overlooks the perspective of key stakeholders. Through an interdisciplinary process, Ransan-Cooper et al. design different algorithms to control neighbourhood-scale batteries that highlight variations in allocation of risk and benefit.

    • Hedda Ransan-Cooper
    • Björn C. P. Sturmberg
    • Lachlan Blackhall
  • Growth of wind and solar energy share demonstrates different dynamics between the initial phases of adoption as compared with the advanced stages. Cherp et al. study the growth dynamics of renewable energy and show that laggards may continue to struggle to achieve high growth rates despite learning from early adopters’ experience.

    • Aleh Cherp
    • Vadim Vinichenko
    • Jessica Jewell
  • Electrochemical reduction of CO2 can generate fuel precursors and additives, yet the set of possible products and overall efficiency are limited. Now, Lee et al. exploit redox-neutral reactions to form dimethyl carbonate from CO2 in methanol with 60% Faradaic efficiency and extend the scheme to diethyl carbonate.

    • Kyu Min Lee
    • Jun Ho Jang
    • Ki Tae Nam
  • The impact of extreme weather events driven by climate change is increasingly disrupting energy assets and services. Using operational data of nuclear reactors, Ali Ahmad identifies how disruptions in nuclear power production have increased over the years with increasing temperature anomalies, and projects future loss of output.

    • Ali Ahmad
    • The viability of electrocatalytic CO2 reduction as a pathway for CO2 utilization is contingent on developing selective processes towards high-value carbon-based chemicals. New work demonstrates a strategy to expand the possible products to carbonate esters by sequential redox cycles in a single electrochemical cell.

      • Ana Sofía Varela
      News & Views
    • Climate change impacts the production of electricity including power generated from nuclear facilities. New research published in Nature Energy reports an increase in climate-related outages over the past few decades and projects the annual energy loss for the global fleet of nuclear generators decades into the future.

      • Peter H. Larsen
      News & Views
    • Despite intensive research in the development of lithium-metal batteries, combining high energy density and long cycle life is still a great challenge. Now, a deeper understanding of the degradation mechanisms at play in realistic cells may pave the way for practical applications of these batteries.

      • Nicolò Minafra
      • Jeremiah A. Johnson
      • Yang Shao-Horn
      News & Views
    • The doping of CdTe solar cells with group-V elements can improve long-term stability of the devices yet the open-circuit voltage is limited. Now, a low-temperature and solution-based doping method relying on group-V chloride salts may lead to new paths for efficiency improvement.

      • Gang Xiong
      News & Views
    • Electrification of truck fleets has been perceived as costly both in terms of vehicle and charging infrastructure investments. A new study shows that, with the right charging strategy, electrification of a short-haul delivery fleet does not require major investments in the electric grid substations.

      • Heikki Liimatainen
      News & Views
  • The electrolyte is an indispensable component in any electrochemical device. In Li-ion batteries, the electrolyte development experienced a tortuous pathway closely associated with the evolution of electrode chemistries.

    • Kang Xu
    Tales of Invention
  • Ambitious emission reduction targets from governments and businesses revive hope in a political solution to climate change, but need to be examined rigorously.

Social Dynamics of Energy Behaviour

Social Dynamics of Energy Behaviour

Energy use occurs in homes, workplaces and communities in which complex webs of social relations already exist, and social interactions routinely occur.