Browse Articles

  • Policy Brief |

    Startups funded by the US Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy filed patents at twice the rate of similar cleantech firms. The high-risk high-reward funding model has succeeded in advancing energy technology, but more is needed to help these innovative firms cross the valley of death and bring new cleantech products to market.

    • Anna Goldstein
    • , Claudia Doblinger
    • , Erin Baker
    •  & Laura Díaz Anadón
  • Article |

    Outdoor field testing is crucial to understand how solar cells behave under operational conditions. Here, Aydin et al. show that a lower perovskite bandgap than that calculated at laboratory standard test conditions enhances the performance of perovskite/silicon tandem cells in the field.

    • Erkan Aydin
    • , Thomas G. Allen
    • , Michele De Bastiani
    • , Lujia Xu
    • , Jorge Ávila
    • , Michael Salvador
    • , Emmanuel Van Kerschaver
    •  & Stefaan De Wolf
  • Analysis |

    The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy aims to fund high-risk high-reward clean energy technology in the United States, but evaluating its impact is difficult. Goldstein et al. compare startups that won Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy funding to other cleantech startups, and find that Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy awardees tend to gain more patents but that more is needed to help them overcome the valley of death.

    • Anna Goldstein
    • , Claudia Doblinger
    • , Erin Baker
    •  & Laura Díaz Anadón
  • News & Views |

    The landscape of the global clean energy industry is transforming, with many technology-following firms in developing countries rapidly catching up to — and potentially poised to overtake — leaders in the developed world. New analysis reveals a clearer picture of this changing geography of clean energy value chains over time.

    • Stine Haakonsson
  • Comment |

    The Paris Agreement’s Mission Innovation initiative to accelerate government spending on clean energy research is currently succeeding in its quest to support carbon mitigation. It should be renewed for an additional five years, with increased ambition, and changed to better integrate the private sector.

    • Zdenka Myslikova
    •  & Kelly Sims Gallagher
  • Article |

    Bio-oil derived from biomass has great potential as a more sustainable fuel but its formation typically relies on energy-intensive processes. Liu et al. show how a tri-phase hydrogen-transfer catalytic system can drive hydrodeoxygenation in water under mild conditions to achieve up to 90% hydrocarbon yield.

    • Wei Liu
    • , Wenqin You
    • , Wei Sun
    • , Weisheng Yang
    • , Akshay Korde
    • , Yutao Gong
    •  & Yulin Deng
  • News & Views |

    Non-fullerene acceptors have enabled record power conversion efficiencies in organic solar cells, but it is unclear how they achieve efficient electron–hole separation. New research shows that extremely long exciton lifetimes are essential to ensure that charges are generated efficiently.

    • Tracey M. Clarke
  • Article |

    Donor–acceptor systems with low energy-level offset enable high power efficiency in organic solar cells yet it is unclear what drives charge generation. Classen et al. show that long exciton lifetimes enable efficient exciton splitting and thus generation of free charges while also suppressing voltage losses.

    • Andrej Classen
    • , Christos L. Chochos
    • , Larry Lüer
    • , Vasilis G. Gregoriou
    • , Jonas Wortmann
    • , Andres Osvet
    • , Karen Forberich
    • , Iain McCulloch
    • , Thomas Heumüller
    •  & Christoph J. Brabec
  • Analysis |

    Clean energy technology manufacturing relies on global value chains, yet the patterns of these chains are poorly understood, obscuring the underlying drivers. Surana et al. analyse data on wind power global value chains to assess how technology complexity shapes the location of suppliers and evolves over time.

    • Kavita Surana
    • , Claudia Doblinger
    • , Laura Diaz Anadon
    •  & Nathan Hultman
  • Analysis |

    To meet climate goals, electric utilities should be decarbonizing their power production, but historical analyses of this process are scarce. Using machine learning and data from more than 3,000 utilities globally, Galina Alova shows that even utilities that prioritize renewable energy continue to grow their fossil fuelled generation capacity.

    • Galina Alova
  • Article |

    Local content requirements are designed to promote development of local industry; however, their economic and technological benefits are not well understood. Using data from Indian solar photovoltaic auctions, Probst et al. show the economic costs and technical benefits of local content requirements in energy auctions.

    • Benedict Probst
    • , Vasilios Anatolitis
    • , Andreas Kontoleon
    •  & Laura Díaz Anadón
  • News & Views |

    Photocatalytic systems for CO2 conversion to fuels tend to suffer from low selectivity, and sacrificial reagents or external bias are often required to make the reaction work. Now, a wireless and stand-alone photocatalyst device is demonstrated that converts CO2 and water into formate and O2 using solar energy without external bias.

    • Tuo Wang
    •  & Jinlong Gong
  • Article |

    Selective photocatalytic conversion of CO2 into fuels without using sacrificial reagents and external bias has proved difficult. Addressing these challenges, Wang and colleagues fabricate wireless photocatalyst sheets comprising a molecular cobalt catalyst and metal oxide semiconductors that convert CO2 and H2O into formate and O2.

    • Qian Wang
    • , Julien Warnan
    • , Santiago Rodríguez-Jiménez
    • , Jane J. Leung
    • , Shafeer Kalathil
    • , Virgil Andrei
    • , Kazunari Domen
    •  & Erwin Reisner
  • Article |

    Tracking a battery’s chemical and thermal states during operation offers important information on its reliability and lifetime. Here the authors develop optical fibre sensors and decouple temperature and pressure variations in the measurements inside of batteries, allowing chemical and thermal events to be monitored with high accuracy.

    • Jiaqiang Huang
    • , Laura Albero Blanquer
    • , Julien Bonefacino
    • , E. R. Logan
    • , Daniel Alves Dalla Corte
    • , Charles Delacourt
    • , Betar M. Gallant
    • , Steven T. Boles
    • , J. R. Dahn
    • , Hwa-Yaw Tam
    •  & Jean-Marie Tarascon
  • Editorial |

    Black and African American people face systematic disadvantages in energy costs and limited access to renewable energy benefits. Addressing these disparities is an important part of achieving racial justice.

  • Perspective |

    Zinc metal batteries (ZMBs) provide a promising alternative to lithium metal batteries but share the formidable challenges in reversibility. The authors discuss the key performance metrics of ZMBs and propose a protocol to assess the true reversibility of zinc metal anodes.

    • Lin Ma
    • , Marshall A. Schroeder
    • , Oleg Borodin
    • , Travis P. Pollard
    • , Michael S. Ding
    • , Chunsheng Wang
    •  & Kang Xu
  • Review Article |

    Negawatt trading or trade in wattage of energy saved from consumption has been a much debated idea that has evaded wide-scale practical application. Tushar et al. look at the challenges to wide-scale negawatt trading and explain how recent technological developments can help address those challenges.

    • Wayes Tushar
    • , Tapan K. Saha
    • , Chau Yuen
    • , David Smith
    • , Peta Ashworth
    • , H. Vincent Poor
    •  & Subarna Basnet
  • Comment |

    Roughly 90% of the world’s energy use today involves generation or manipulation of heat over a wide range of temperatures. Here, we note five key applications of research in thermal energy that could help make significant progress towards mitigating climate change at the necessary scale and urgency.

    • Asegun Henry
    • , Ravi Prasher
    •  & Arun Majumdar
  • Article |

    Anode-free batteries have emerged as a promising storage means to offer high energy density but still suffer from long-term reversibility. The authors analyse the cell failure mechanisms and present an optimized electrolyte to extend the lifetime of anode-free pouch cells.

    • A. J. Louli
    • , A. Eldesoky
    • , Rochelle Weber
    • , M. Genovese
    • , Matt Coon
    • , Jack deGooyer
    • , Zhe Deng
    • , R. T. White
    • , Jaehan Lee
    • , Thomas Rodgers
    • , R. Petibon
    • , S. Hy
    • , Shawn J. H. Cheng
    •  & J. R. Dahn
  • Article |

    Widespread deployment of electrochemical CO2 reduction requires low-cost catalysts that perform well at high current densities. Zhang et al. show that methoxy-functionalized nickel phthalocyanine molecules on carbon nanotubes can operate as high-performing molecularly dispersed electrocatalysts at current densities of up to −300 mA cm–2.

    • Xiao Zhang
    • , Yang Wang
    • , Meng Gu
    • , Maoyu Wang
    • , Zisheng Zhang
    • , Weiying Pan
    • , Zhan Jiang
    • , Hongzhi Zheng
    • , Marcos Lucero
    • , Hailiang Wang
    • , George E. Sterbinsky
    • , Qing Ma
    • , Yang-Gang Wang
    • , Zhenxing Feng
    • , Jun Li
    • , Hongjie Dai
    •  & Yongye Liang
  • News & Views |

    The use of energy expenditure thresholds for quantifying energy poverty is a widely used approach, particularly within the Global North. New research from Hong Kong confirms that this method risks overlooking important housing and climate-related factors.

    • Harriet Thomson
  • Analysis |

    Climate change may affect energy systems by altering energy consumption patterns and production potential, with varying levels of impact across regions. This review synthesizes key findings of climate impact studies in regional and global scenarios and sets the stage for future multi-model assessments to support energy planning.

    • Seleshi G. Yalew
    • , Michelle T. H. van Vliet
    • , David E. H. J. Gernaat
    • , Fulco Ludwig
    • , Ariel Miara
    • , Chan Park
    • , Edward Byers
    • , Enrica De Cian
    • , Franziska Piontek
    • , Gokul Iyer
    • , Ioanna Mouratiadou
    • , James Glynn
    • , Mohamad Hejazi
    • , Olivier Dessens
    • , Pedro Rochedo
    • , Robert Pietzcker
    • , Roberto Schaeffer
    • , Shinichiro Fujimori
    • , Shouro Dasgupta
    • , Silvana Mima
    • , Silvia R. Santos da Silva
    • , Vaibhav Chaturvedi
    • , Robert Vautard
    •  & Detlef P. van Vuuren
  • News & Views |

    Offshore wind projects are being deployed at an increasing rate, and as the scale of these projects has grown, costs have tumbled. A new study indicates that some new European projects may no longer require support from state subsidy mechanisms to be competitive.

    • Ian D. Broadbent
    •  & John Aldersey-Williams
  • News & Views |

    Efforts to electrochemically produce ammonia have mainly focused on dinitrogen as a feedstock. Now, an electrocatalyst composed of Cu embedded in an organic molecular solid is designed, which efficiently and selectively converts nitrate ions to ammonia, paving a way to nutrient recovery and recycling.

    • Lauren F. Greenlee
  • Article |

    Electrochemically reducing nitrogen-containing molecules could provide less energy-intense routes to produce ammonia than the traditional Haber–Bosh process. Here the authors use a catalyst comprising Cu embedded in an organic molecular solid to synthesize ammonia from nitrate ions.

    • Gao-Feng Chen
    • , Yifei Yuan
    • , Haifeng Jiang
    • , Shi-Yu Ren
    • , Liang-Xin Ding
    • , Lu Ma
    • , Tianpin Wu
    • , Jun Lu
    •  & Haihui Wang
  • Article |

    Offshore wind power has often been assumed to be costly and dependent on subsidies to survive. Using the latest auction data from five European countries Jansen et al. show that in mature markets offshore wind is already competitive without subsidies.

    • Malte Jansen
    • , Iain Staffell
    • , Lena Kitzing
    • , Sylvain Quoilin
    • , Edwin Wiggelinkhuizen
    • , Bernard Bulder
    • , Iegor Riepin
    •  & Felix Müsgens
  • Article |

    Electrocatalytically reducing CO2 to ethanol can provide renewably generated fuel, but catalysts are often poorly selective for this conversion. Here the authors use a Cu catalyst to produce ethanol with high selectivity. Cu dispersion is key to the performance and operando studies indicate that it changes under reaction conditions.

    • Haiping Xu
    • , Dominic Rebollar
    • , Haiying He
    • , Lina Chong
    • , Yuzi Liu
    • , Cong Liu
    • , Cheng-Jun Sun
    • , Tao Li
    • , John V. Muntean
    • , Randall E. Winans
    • , Di-Jia Liu
    •  & Tao Xu
  • News & Views |

    Antimony selenosulfides are promising photovoltaic materials but obtaining high-quality absorber layers is challenging. Researchers now show that layers deposited using a hydrothermal method have optimal bandgap, good morphology and favourable growth orientation, enabling solar cells with 10% efficiency.

    • Jonathan Major
  • Article |

    Antimony chalcogenides are emerging photovoltaic materials, yet difficulties in fabricating high-quality films limit device performance. We show that hydrothermal synthesis affords good morphology and reduced defects in antimony selenosulfide films, enabling solar cells with an efficiency of 10%.

    • Rongfeng Tang
    • , Xiaomin Wang
    • , Weitao Lian
    • , Jialiang Huang
    • , Qi Wei
    • , Menglin Huang
    • , Yiwei Yin
    • , Chenhui Jiang
    • , Shangfeng Yang
    • , Guichuan Xing
    • , Shiyou Chen
    • , Changfei Zhu
    • , Xiaojing Hao
    • , Martin A. Green
    •  & Tao Chen
  • Article |

    Interconnecting layers are critical to the efficiency of tandem solar cells and a high number of layers is typically needed to ensure good electrical properties. Yu et. al show that a fullerene/tin-oxide interconnecting layer enables 24.4% efficiency and improved stability in all-perovskite tandem solar cells.

    • Zhenhua Yu
    • , Zhibin Yang
    • , Zhenyi Ni
    • , Yuchuan Shao
    • , Bo Chen
    • , Yuze Lin
    • , Haotong Wei
    • , Zhengshan J. Yu
    • , Zachary Holman
    •  & Jinsong Huang
  • Article |

    The upscaling of layer treatments and processing that afford high efficiency and stability in small-area perovskite solar cells remains challenging. Liu et al. show how the efficiency and stability of perovskite modules can be improved using an integrated approach to interface and layer engineering.

    • Zonghao Liu
    • , Longbin Qiu
    • , Luis K. Ono
    • , Sisi He
    • , Zhanhao Hu
    • , Maowei Jiang
    • , Guoqing Tong
    • , Zhifang Wu
    • , Yan Jiang
    • , Dae-Yong Son
    • , Yangyang Dang
    • , Said Kazaoui
    •  & Yabing Qi
  • Article |

    The COVID 19 pandemic and consequent lockdown has had a substantial impact on mobility and therefore fuel demand and it is not clear when demand will recover. Ou et al. use a machine learning model that integrates health recovery scenarios to project the near-term future of gasoline demand.

    • Shiqi Ou
    • , Xin He
    • , Weiqi Ji
    • , Wei Chen
    • , Lang Sui
    • , Yu Gan
    • , Zifeng Lu
    • , Zhenhong Lin
    • , Sili Deng
    • , Steven Przesmitzki
    •  & Jessey Bouchard
  • Editorial |

    Coronavirus-imposed restrictions are putting great strain on academia and the research community but there may be a silver lining in all the commotion.

  • Comment |

    Online conferences are increasingly popular within scientific communities due to the travel restrictions faced by many countries. Although a relatively new phenomenon for many of us, lessons from recent meetings provide useful reflections on the format’s opportunities and challenges compared to conventional in-person meetings.

    • Michael Saliba
  • Review Article |

    Batteries based on multivalent metal anodes hold great promise for large-scale energy storage but their development is still at an early stage. This Review surveys the main complexity arising from anodes, electrolytes and cathodes, and offers views on the progression path of these technologies.

    • Yanliang Liang
    • , Hui Dong
    • , Doron Aurbach
    •  & Yan Yao
  • Perspective |

    The increasing deployment of photovoltaic modules poses the challenge of waste management. Heath et al. review the status of end-of of-life management of silicon solar modules and recommend research and development priorities to facilitate material recovery and recycling of solar modules.

    • Garvin A. Heath
    • , Timothy J. Silverman
    • , Michael Kempe
    • , Michael Deceglie
    • , Dwarakanath Ravikumar
    • , Timothy Remo
    • , Hao Cui
    • , Parikhit Sinha
    • , Cara Libby
    • , Stephanie Shaw
    • , Keiichi Komoto
    • , Karsten Wambach
    • , Evelyn Butler
    • , Teresa Barnes
    •  & Andreas Wade
  • Analysis |

    Carbon emission reduction measures have widely differing energy consumptions that have not been systematically compared. Babacan et al. estimate comparable energy use per unit emission reduction of various emission reduction measures, from efficiency improvements to renewable electricity generation to carbon removal.

    • Oytun Babacan
    • , Sven De Causmaecker
    • , Ajay Gambhir
    • , Mathilde Fajardy
    • , A. William Rutherford
    • , Andrea Fantuzzi
    •  & Jenny Nelson
  • Article |

    Understanding Li transport is important in the development of fast-rate batteries. Here the authors uncover an ultrafast charge transfer across a cathode–electrolyte interface with the aid of single-particle measurements and ascribe the solvation of electrolyte salts to be key for the interfacial kinetics.

    • Bohua Wen
    • , Zhi Deng
    • , Ping-Chun Tsai
    • , Zachary W. Lebens-Higgins
    • , Louis F. J. Piper
    • , Shyue Ping Ong
    •  & Yet-Ming Chiang
  • News & Views |

    China has the world’s most ambitious plan to expand nuclear power production to boost its economic growth. Now research shows that a concerted effort to control news framing may be playing an essential role in cultivating public acceptance of nuclear risk, helping to ensure sustained development of the nuclear power industry.

    • Lei Huang
    •  & Yang Liu
  • Article |

    Autonomous driving is being implemented in electric vehicles, but its energy impact is unclear. Here the authors build physics models to analyse the energy demand of autonomous electric vehicles and suggest that the influences of automation on vehicle range and battery longevity are small.

    • Aniruddh Mohan
    • , Shashank Sripad
    • , Parth Vaishnav
    •  & Venkatasubramanian Viswanathan
  • Article |

    Use of electric vehicles in ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft is rising but their impact on environment and emissions remains difficult to assess. Using data from more than 100,000 rides, Alan Jenn shows the substantial emission reduction potential of electric vehicle use in ride-hailing in California.

    • Alan Jenn