Browse Articles

  • News & Views |

    Electrocaloric cooling devices traditionally comprise sub-millimetre-thick ceramic working bodies surrounded by relatively massive apparatus. Now, cooling devices that are each based on a thin polymer layer have been stacked to yield a composite lightweight device that pumps heat across a wide temperature span.

    • Xavier Moya
    •  & Neil D. Mathur
  • Policy Brief |

    Wind energy repowering decisions are multifaceted and depend on the physical, political and social landscape, as factors such as noise regulation, aesthetics and political bargaining can significantly influence project development. Policy should recognise that a technology perspective alone cannot inform implementation pathways and should be supplemented with an understanding of the political and social dimensions.

    • Lena Kitzing
    • , Morten Kofoed Jensen
    • , Thomas Telsnig
    •  & Eric Lantz
  • Editorial |

    Renewable energy technologies do not always employ sustainable resources. The scarcity of cobalt supply must be addressed in transportation electrification.

  • Comment |

    The power conversion efficiency of organic solar cells has rapidly increased, yet significantly less attention has been paid to materials stability and device longevity. For organic solar cells to make an impact in the marketplace, researchers, funding agencies and journals should do more to address this crucial gap.

    • Quinn Burlingame
    • , Melissa Ball
    •  & Yueh-Lin Loo
  • News & Views |

    Given the benefits of improved health and reduced cooking time, women are assumed to unequivocally prefer clean cooking fuels. Now research indicates that women using firewood and those using cleaner alternatives both believe their cooking fuel supports their well-being in several ways, suggesting more complex trade-offs in fuel choices.

    • Daniel Erian Armanios
  • Analysis |

    The concentration of rooftop solar photovoltaics among high-income households limits deployment and access to benefits. Here the authors find that some policy interventions and business models increased photovoltaic adoption equity in existing markets and shifted deployment to underserved communities.

    • Eric O’Shaughnessy
    • , Galen Barbose
    • , Ryan Wiser
    • , Sydney Forrester
    •  & Naïm Darghouth
  • Article |

    Two-dimensional Ruddlesden–Popper layered metal-halide perovskites show better performance over three-dimensional versions, but are typically based on quantum wells with random width distribution. Liang et al. show that introducing molten salt spacers gives phase-pure quantum wells and improved solar cell performance.

    • Chao Liang
    • , Hao Gu
    • , Yingdong Xia
    • , Zhuo Wang
    • , Xiaotao Liu
    • , Junmin Xia
    • , Shouwei Zuo
    • , Yue Hu
    • , Xingyu Gao
    • , Wei Hui
    • , Lingfeng Chao
    • , Tingting Niu
    • , Min Fang
    • , Hui Lu
    • , Han Dong
    • , Hui Yu
    • , Shi Chen
    • , Xueqin Ran
    • , Lin Song
    • , Bixin Li
    • , Jing Zhang
    • , Yong Peng
    • , Guosheng Shao
    • , Jianpu Wang
    • , Yonghua Chen
    • , Guichuan Xing
    •  & Wei Huang
  • Policy Brief |

    Households reduced their electricity use the most when they learnt both that they were using more energy than their neighbours and that energy conservation was socially approved. This suggests that efforts to use social information to nudge conservation should combine different types of social feedback to maximize impact.

    • Jacopo Bonan
    • , Cristina Cattaneo
    • , Giovanna d’Adda
    •  & Massimo Tavoni
  • News & Views |

    Social norm interventions are widely used to foster residential resource conservation. Now researchers have shown that the effectiveness of providing information about others’ energy use alongside messages of social approval for energy savings behaviour depends on the strength and consistency of these messages.

    • Jon M. Jachimowicz
  • News & Views |

    Microwave heating has become a useful tool in catalysis to obtain chemical products under unconventional reaction conditions. Now, researchers have demonstrated low-temperature water splitting to produce hydrogen using microwave catalysis and revealed the important role of reduced oxides in the process.

    • Daniel R. Slocombe
  • Article |

    Hydrogen is a promising vector in the decarbonization of energy systems, but more efficient and scalable synthesis is required to enable its widespread deployment. Towards that aim, Serra et al. present a microwave-based approach that allows contactless water electrolysis that can be integrated with hydrocarbon production.

    • J. M. Serra
    • , J. F. Borrás-Morell
    • , B. García-Baños
    • , M. Balaguer
    • , P. Plaza-González
    • , J. Santos-Blasco
    • , D. Catalán-Martínez
    • , L. Navarrete
    •  & J. M. Catalá-Civera
  • Article |

    Lead leakage from damaged perovskite photovoltaic modules poses health and environmental risks limiting the potential use of the technology. Now Chen et al. show that the encapsulation of perovskite modules with a cation-exchange resins reduces lead leakage to 14.3 ppb in waste water.

    • Shangshang Chen
    • , Yehao Deng
    • , Hangyu Gu
    • , Shuang Xu
    • , Shen Wang
    • , Zhenhua Yu
    • , Volker Blum
    •  & Jinsong Huang
  • Review Article |

    Ultrathin solar cells attract interest for their relatively low cost and potential novel applications. Here, Massiot et al. discuss their performance and the challenges in the fabrication of ultrathin absorbers, patterning of light trapping structures and ensuring efficient charge-carrier collection.

    • Inès Massiot
    • , Andrea Cattoni
    •  & Stéphane Collin
  • Article |

    Home energy reports convey information about others’ energy use (descriptive norms) and social approval for energy saving behaviour (injunctive norms). This study shows that the combined effect of descriptive and injunctive feedback depends on their consistency and relative strength.

    • Jacopo Bonan
    • , Cristina Cattaneo
    • , Giovanna d’Adda
    •  & Massimo Tavoni
  • Article |

    Solid-state caloric cooling is a promising alternative to vapour-compression refrigeration yet practical devices are not sufficiently efficient for applications. Meng et al. combine cascade device design with charge recovery and improve the cooling efficiency and temperature lift of an electrocaloric device.

    • Yuan Meng
    • , Ziyang Zhang
    • , Hanxiang Wu
    • , Ruiyi Wu
    • , Jianghan Wu
    • , Haolun Wang
    •  & Qibing Pei
  • Article |

    Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are increasingly being explored for electrocatalytic oxygen evolution, which is half of the water splitting reaction. Here the authors show that, under reaction conditions, mixed metal oxyhydroxides form at the nodes of bimetallic MOFs, which are highly catalytically active.

    • Shenlong Zhao
    • , Chunhui Tan
    • , Chun-Ting He
    • , Pengfei An
    • , Feng Xie
    • , Shuai Jiang
    • , Yanfei Zhu
    • , Kuang-Hsu Wu
    • , Binwei Zhang
    • , Haijing Li
    • , Jing Zhang
    • , Yuan Chen
    • , Shaoqin Liu
    • , Juncai Dong
    •  & Zhiyong Tang
  • News & Views |

    The design of research solar cells is typically optimized for laboratory conditions but in the real world they are exposed to changing temperatures influencing their performance. Now, research from outdoor tests reveals how temperature alters the current of perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells and how this changes the optimal bandgaps.

    • Jan Christoph Goldschmidt
  • Article |

    The appropriate descriptors for a catalyst’s hydrogen evolution activity in alkaline electrolyte are debated. Combining simulations and single-crystal studies of metal-decorated Pt surfaces, McCrum and Koper show that activity exhibits a volcano-type relationship with the hydroxide binding strength of the catalyst, providing a target for catalyst design.

    • Ian T. McCrum
    •  & Marc T. M. Koper
  • Article |

    Estimating the costs of green home improvements is not possible without accurate estimates of their impact on house prices. Now, Shen et al. use the sales data of more than 400,000 properties in the United States to determine how heat pump installations increase house prices.

    • Xingchi Shen
    • , Pengfei Liu
    • , Yueming (Lucy) Qiu
    • , Anand Patwardhan
    •  & Parth Vaishnav
  • Editorial |

    The renewal of Mission Innovation is important — but more targeted interventions are needed to deliver on necessary energy-innovation goals.

  • News & Views |

    Current collectors are essential components in lithium-ion batteries, but are typically made of metal foils that do not contribute to the battery capacity. Now, a fire-extinguishing lightweight polymer-based current collector is developed that enhances both the energy density and safety of the battery.

    • Leif Nyholm
  • Article |

    Low-bandgap tin–lead perovskites are key to all-perovskite tandem solar cells but simultaneous improvement in efficiency and stability has proven challenging. Now, Li et al. fabricate tin–lead perovskite cells with reduced methylammonium content that are 20.4% efficient and stable under illumination for 450 h.

    • Chongwen Li
    • , Zhaoning Song
    • , Cong Chen
    • , Chuanxiao Xiao
    • , Biwas Subedi
    • , Steven P. Harvey
    • , Niraj Shrestha
    • , Kamala Khanal Subedi
    • , Lei Chen
    • , Dachang Liu
    • , You Li
    • , Yong-Wah Kim
    • , Chun-sheng Jiang
    • , Michael J. Heben
    • , Dewei Zhao
    • , Randy J. Ellingson
    • , Nikolas J. Podraza
    • , Mowafak Al-Jassim
    •  & Yanfa Yan
  • Article |

    Batteries need to be energy-dense as well as safe. Yi Cui and team develop an ultralight polyimide-based current collector with embedded fire retardants that enables lithium-ion batteries with much-enhanced safety and energy density.

    • Yusheng Ye
    • , Lien-Yang Chou
    • , Yayuan Liu
    • , Hansen Wang
    • , Hiang Kwee Lee
    • , Wenxiao Huang
    • , Jiayu Wan
    • , Kai Liu
    • , Guangmin Zhou
    • , Yufei Yang
    • , Ankun Yang
    • , Xin Xiao
    • , Xin Gao
    • , David Thomas Boyle
    • , Hao Chen
    • , Wenbo Zhang
    • , Sang Cheol Kim
    •  & Yi Cui
  • Perspective |

    Mental accounting refers to the mental budgets people use to organize and track resource use. In this Perspective, the authors demonstrate how principles of mental accounting can be applied to energy behaviour and decision-making, and outline future research directions.

    • Ulf J. J. Hahnel
    • , Gilles Chatelain
    • , Beatrice Conte
    • , Valentino Piana
    •  & Tobias Brosch
  • Article |

    Ensuring both stability and efficiency in mixed lead–tin perovskite solar cells is crucial to the development of all-perovskite tandems. Xiao et al. use an antioxidant zwitterionic molecule to suppress tin oxidation thus enabling large-area tandem cells with 24.2% efficiency and operational stability over 500 hours.

    • Ke Xiao
    • , Renxing Lin
    • , Qiaolei Han
    • , Yi Hou
    • , Zhenyuan Qin
    • , Hieu T. Nguyen
    • , Jin Wen
    • , Mingyang Wei
    • , Vishal Yeddu
    • , Makhsud I. Saidaminov
    • , Yuan Gao
    • , Xin Luo
    • , Yurui Wang
    • , Han Gao
    • , Chunfeng Zhang
    • , Jun Xu
    • , Jia Zhu
    • , Edward H. Sargent
    •  & Hairen Tan
  • Analysis |

    Nuclear and renewable energy are considered two of the most important technologies towards decarbonization though it is not clear how their adoption relates to national emission reductions. Sovacool et al. look at data from 123 countries to examine emission reductions associated with nuclear- or renewable energy-focused strategies.

    • Benjamin K. Sovacool
    • , Patrick Schmid
    • , Andy Stirling
    • , Goetz Walter
    •  & Gordon MacKerron
  • News & Views |

    Government programmes such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) are designed to help cleantech companies overcome startup challenges and bring innovations to market. New analysis shows that support from ARPA-E has led to higher patenting rates but success in winning follow-up funding remains unclear.

    • David M. Hart
  • Article |

    Nickel-rich layered oxide cathodes are at the forefront of the development of automobile batteries. The authors report an atomic and microstructural engineering design for a Li[Ni0.90Co0.09Ta0.01]O2 cathode that exhibits outstanding long-term cyclability and high energy at full depth of discharge in full cells.

    • Un-Hyuck Kim
    • , Geon-Tae Park
    • , Byoung-Ki Son
    • , Gyeong Won Nam
    • , Jun Liu
    • , Liang-Yin Kuo
    • , Payam Kaghazchi
    • , Chong S. Yoon
    •  & Yang-Kook Sun
  • Article |

    While electricity production has a significant impact on air quality, the opposite effect has been suspected but not empirically demonstrated. Now, using pollution and electricity consumption data, He et al. show the impact of air pollution on domestic electricity consumption.

    • Pan He
    • , Jing Liang
    • , Yueming (Lucy) Qiu
    • , Qingran Li
    •  & Bo Xing
  • Article |

    Understanding the severe voltage hysteresis in the first cycle of Li-rich cathodes is essential to realize their full potential in batteries. P. G. Bruce and colleagues report the formation of molecular O2 on charging rather than other oxidized O species is the cause for the voltage hysteresis.

    • Robert A. House
    • , Gregory J. Rees
    • , Miguel A. Pérez-Osorio
    • , John-Joseph Marie
    • , Edouard Boivin
    • , Alex W. Robertson
    • , Abhishek Nag
    • , Mirian Garcia-Fernandez
    • , Ke-Jin Zhou
    •  & Peter G. Bruce
  • Article |

    The impact of energy consumption on air pollution in various forms has been studied extensively though less is known about how ambient air pollution affects energy use. Here, Eom et al. show how ambient air pollution increases domestic energy use in South Korea.

    • Jiyong Eom
    • , Minwoo Hyun
    • , Jaewoong Lee
    •  & Hyoseop Lee
  • 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 |

    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
  • 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