• Comment |

    Energy plays a central role in responding to emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, from ensuring adequate healthcare services to supporting households during lockdowns. Protecting the renewable energy industry and its contribution to providing sustainable energy access for all must be an urgent priority in the current crisis.

    • Vanesa Castán Broto
    •  & Joshua Kirshner
  • Comment |

    Digital and physical games are now widely used to support learning and engagement, including in the domains of climate change and energy. We believe games have a further, underappreciated role: helping us as researchers to reflect on our own research, generating deeper understanding and, hopefully, more impactful research projects.

    • Michael J. Fell
    •  & Alexandra Schneiders
  • Comment |

    The COVID-19 pandemic and associated changes in social and economic conditions may affect the prevalence of energy insecurity. Essential relief must be provided to the growing number of households that are energy insecure and protect them from even more dire circumstances caused by utility disconnections and unpaid energy bills.

    • Michelle Graff
    •  & Sanya Carley
  • Comment |

    The smart home technology industry promises energy savings and lifestyle improvements. However, there is little evidence that smart home technologies will reduce home energy use overall, and there are a range of emerging detrimental social impacts that require further attention from researchers, policymakers and practitioners.

    • Larissa Nicholls
    • , Yolande Strengers
    •  & Jathan Sadowski
  • Comment |

    The number of plaintiffs taking energy firms to court for ignoring climate-related risks is growing. By revealing how the sector is not prepared — and not preparing — for what is coming, their cases are pressing the energy sector to treat those risks as a cost of doing business.

    • Justin Gundlach
  • Comment |

    Energy firms struggle to incorporate climate risks in their planning and public disclosures. This lack of information is increasing the chances that herd behaviour in finance could potentially lead to sudden disruptions in energy supply and exacerbate consequences of climate-related extreme events.

    • Amy Myers Jaffe
  • Comment |

    Anomalous seasons such as extremely cold winters or low-wind summers can seriously disrupt renewable energy productivity and reliability. Better seasonal forecasts providing more accurate information tailored to stakeholder needs can help the renewable energy industry prepare for such extremes.

    • Anton Orlov
    • , Jana Sillmann
    •  & Ilaria Vigo
  • Comment |

    Despite increased awareness among investors, physical climate risk from extreme weather remains surprisingly unaccounted for in financial markets. Without better knowledge of this risk, the average energy investor can only hope that the next extreme event will not trigger a sudden correction to the market values of energy firms.

    • Paul A. Griffin
  • Comment |

    Scenarios are the primary tool for examining how current decisions shape the future, but the future is affected as much by out-of-ordinary extremes as by generally expected trends. Energy modellers can study extremes both by incorporating them directly within models and by using complementary off-model analyses.

    • David L. McCollum
    • , Ajay Gambhir
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    •  & Charlie Wilson
  • Comment |

    Climate change entails an intensification of extreme weather events that can potentially trigger socioeconomic and energy system disruptions. As we approach 1 °C of global warming we should start learning from historical extremes and explicitly incorporate such events in integrated climate–economy and energy systems models.

    • Christian Otto
    • , Franziska Piontek
    • , Matthias Kalkuhl
    •  & Katja Frieler
  • Comment |

    Energy interventions can improve the lives of crisis-affected populations and the efficiency and performance of humanitarian operations. However, there is little existing data around humanitarian energy interventions, and little coordination around how this data can or should be collected, used and shared.

    • Owen Grafham
    •  & Phil Sandwell
  • Comment |

    Energy is a priority for refugees yet traditional approaches for its delivery are costly and ineffective, while energy access often falls away once aid is withdrawn. By adopting a market systems approach, aid can do more to ensure access to energy in fragile places is more effective and sustainable.

    • Anoushka Boodhna
    • , Corrie Sissons
    •  & Jessica Fullwood-Thomas
  • Comment |

    Humanitarian organizations are increasingly incorporating sustainable energy practices into programming. Policies that are clear and coherent need to be put in place so that the private sector can be progressively engaged and energy services can be scaled-up.

    • Suzanna Huber
    •  & Eva Mach
  • Comment |

    Delivering renewable energy solutions in humanitarian settings that meet the needs of refugees is highly challenging. Inclusive design — engaging refugee communities, humanitarian agencies and the private sector — is a promising approach that offers substantial improvements in delivering energy access for refugees.

    • Sarah Rosenberg-Jansen
    • , Tracy Tunge
    •  & Timothy Kayumba
  • Comment |

    Different energy sources have different spillovers on economic development and industrialization. Pathways of economic development based on renewable energy sources might require additional policies to support industrial development.

    • Matthias Kalkuhl
    • , Jan Christoph Steckel
    • , Lorenzo Montrone
    • , Michael Jakob
    • , Jörg Peters
    •  & Ottmar Edenhofer
  • Comment |

    The world is becoming more complex for policymakers and researchers alike as climate change, new technology and digitalization drive unprecedented energy-system change. Understanding one another is paramount if we are to address the challenges they present.

    • Jack Miller
  • Comment |

    UK policy on decentralized energy has shifted from community energy to local energy. This signals reduced support for grassroots, citizen-led action in favour of institutional partnerships and company-led investments, which puts at risk the urgent, long-term social and technological transformations required in a climate emergency.

    • Patrick Devine-Wright
  • Comment |

    Access to rich, high-quality datasets is widely considered to be vital for energy research and public policy. While smart metering has the potential to revolutionize access to energy consumption data, coordinated efforts are needed from government, funding bodies and researchers to overcome the barriers to data access.

    • Ellen Webborn
    •  & Tadj Oreszczyn
  • Comment |

    A wealth of candidates are being investigated to improve the catalysts found in acidic and alkaline electrolysers. However, attention should be focused on developing stable water oxidation catalysts with improved intrinsic activity — not only increased geometric activity — alongside best practice for data collection.

    • Jakob Kibsgaard
    •  & Ib Chorkendorff
  • Comment |

    New scientific findings cataloguing the need for a rapid renewable energy transition are most often met with calls for innovation. Our failure to address climate change and thereby avoid the socioeconomic crises it foretells will not be attributed to a lack of innovation, however, but rather to a lack of exnovation.

    • Debra J. Davidson
  • Comment |

    Energy return on investment (EROI) is a critical measure of the comparative utility of different energy carriers, including fossil fuels and renewables. However, it must not be used to compare carriers that cannot be put to similar end-use. In addition, combining carriers to arrive at estimates of ‘average’ or ‘minimum’ EROIs can be problematic.

    • Marco Raugei
  • Comment |

    Energy poverty in the European Union poses a distinct challenge across member states and requires tailored, targeted action. EU policymakers need to strengthen the response to energy poverty and engender action across member states, moving beyond the focus on vulnerable consumers in energy markets.

    • Audrey Dobbins
    • , Francesco Fuso Nerini
    • , Paul Deane
    •  & Steve Pye
  • Comment |

    Smart in-home devices, if integrated with the capability to transact energy with one another and with the electric grid, can offer a disruptive solution to managing energy supply and demand. Such transactive energy networks could turn homes from passive energy consumers into intelligent, active energy storage and service providers for the future grid.

    • Na (Nora) Wang
  • Comment |

    The need to include gender in energy policy, practice and research is largely accepted. However, when research that merely disaggregates by sex is used to inform energy efficiency initiatives, it often reproduces stereotypical understandings of sex differences, which can harm rather than promote gender equality.

    • Sarah Bradshaw
  • Comment |

    The photovoltaics industry has grown remarkably in recent decades but as it has grown, quality assurance during the manufacturing and installation processes has become increasingly important. There is often a cultural divide between those who develop and those who implement the designs, motivating partnering of these efforts.

    • Sarah Kurtz
  • Comment |

    In Aesop’s fable, a swift hare races with a deliberate tortoise. In the end, the tortoise wins by taking a slow and steady approach. We argue that, given the economic constraints on US deployment of nuclear power, a ‘tortoise strategy’ is more prudent for US government nuclear R&D efforts.

    • Michael J. Ford
    •  & Daniel P. Schrag
  • Comment |

    The lack of electrification in parts of the world leaves many healthcare facilities with inadequate power provision for even basic services. Pilot projects show that solar power can overcome this but, to expand further, more careful trials measuring health outcomes and better integration of energy and health policy are required.

    • Hem H. Dholakia
  • Comment |

    Fuel poverty is a highly-complex social problem that is currently defined in technical and economic terms that prioritize energy performance measures as solutions. Yet considering the wider societal aspects of the condition demonstrates how adopting dynamic risk-based metrics can drive tailored and holistic folk-first outcomes.

    • Keith J. Baker
    • , Ronald Mould
    •  & Scott Restrick
  • Comment |

    The ability to collect fine-grained energy data from smart meters has benefits for utilities and consumers. However, a proactive approach to data privacy is necessary to maximize the potential of these data to support low-carbon energy systems and innovative business models.

    • Carissa Véliz
    •  & Philipp Grunewald
  • Comment |

    Low photovoltaic module costs imply that increasing the energy yield per module area is now a priority. We argue that modules harvesting sunlight from both sides will strongly penetrate the market but that more field data, better simulation tools and international measurement standards are needed to overcome perceived investment risks.

    • R. Kopecek
    •  & J. Libal
  • Comment |

    Recent developments in photovoltaic technologies enable stimulating architectural integration into building façades and rooftops. Upcoming policies and a better coordination of all stakeholders will transform how we approach building-integrated photovoltaics and should lead to strong deployment.

    • Christophe Ballif
    • , Laure-Emmanuelle Perret-Aebi
    • , Sophie Lufkin
    •  & Emmanuel Rey
  • Comment |

    Nation states need to incentivize negative emissions technologies if they are to take the decarbonization of whole energy systems seriously. This incentivization must account for public values and interests in relation to which technologies to incentivize, how they should be incentivized and how they should be governed once incentivized.

    • Rob Bellamy
  • Comment |

    Most scenarios to meet the Paris Agreement require negative emissions technologies. The EU has assumed a global leadership role in mitigation action and low-carbon energy technology development and deployment, but carbon dioxide removal presents a serious challenge to its low-carbon policy paradigm and experience.

    • Vivian Scott
    •  & Oliver Geden
  • Comment |

    Although nearly all 2 °C scenarios use negative CO2 emission technologies, only relatively small investments are being made in them, and concerns are being raised regarding their large-scale use. If no explicit policy decisions are taken soon, however, their use will simply be forced on us to meet the Paris climate targets.

    • Detlef P. van Vuuren
    • , Andries F. Hof
    • , Mariësse A. E. van Sluisveld
    •  & Keywan Riahi
  • Comment |

    President Trump has proposed severe cuts to US government spending on energy research, development and demonstration, but Congress has the ‘power of the purse’ and can rescue US energy innovation. If serious cuts are enacted, the pace of innovation will slow, harming the economy, energy security and global environmental quality.

    • Laura Diaz Anadon
    • , Kelly Sims Gallagher
    •  & John P. Holdren
  • Comment |

    The Trump administration's domestic plans would have curtailed the nation's climate action even if it had stayed in the Paris Agreement. Yet, the decision to leave the agreement undermines US international energy and climate leadership and the prospects of ramping up global climate policy ambition.

    • Jason Bordoff
  • Comment |

    The structure of active sites of enzymes involved in bioenergetic processes can inspire design of active, stable and cost-effective catalysts for renewable-energy technologies. For these materials to reach maturity, the benefits of bioinspired systems must be combined with practical technological requirements.

    • Vincent Artero
  • Comment |

    The UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 aims to deliver affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Tracking progress towards the targets under this goal can spur better energy statistics and data gathering capacity, and will require new indicators that also consider the interplay with other goals.

    • Peter G. Taylor
    • , Kathleen Abdalla
    • , Roberta Quadrelli
    •  & Ivan Vera
  • Comment |

    Beyond-intercalation batteries promise a step-change in energy storage compared to intercalation-based lithium-ion and sodium-ion batteries. However, only performance metrics that include all cell components and operation parameters can tell whether a true advance over intercalation batteries has been achieved.

    • Stefan A. Freunberger
  • Comment |

    Technological innovation, often induced by national and subnational policies, can be a key driver of global climate and energy policy ambition and action. A better understanding of the technology–politics feedback link can help to further increase ambitions.

    • Tobias S. Schmidt
    •  & Sebastian Sewerin
  • Comment |

    Private sector investments in African power generation play an increasingly important role in addressing the continent's electricity supply shortages. Our analysis of investment trends in sub-Saharan Africa reveals some key success factors.

    • Anton Eberhard
    • , Katharine Gratwick
    • , Elvira Morella
    •  & Pedro Antmann
  • Comment |

    The US plays a key role in shoring up European energy security and this is unlikely to change dramatically after the November 2016 elections. However, the outcome could compound longer term risks to an internationally engaged US energy policy, affecting European energy security and diplomacy.

    • David Koranyi
  • Comment |

    In terms of energy policy, the Trump presidential campaign is largely aligned with mainstream Republican positions, evoking independence and deregulation. However, Trump's rhetoric and personality might inject uncertainties into long-term energy policies, increasing the risk inherent in energy related businesses.

    • Michael Giberson
  • Comment |

    Hillary Clinton's campaign has stressed her continuity with Obama's energy policy on key aspects such as decarbonization of the US economy, technological innovation and global cooperation. However, policy reforms to deliver long-term climate goals might be out of reach in a highly divided Congress.

    • Joseph E. Aldy
  • Comment |

    Combining silicon and other materials in tandem solar cells is one approach to enhancing the overall power conversion efficiency of the cells. We argue that top cell partners for silicon tandem solar cells should be selected on the basis of their spectral efficiency — their efficiency resolved by wavelength.

    • Zhengshan (Jason) Yu
    • , Mehdi Leilaeioun
    •  & Zachary Holman
  • Comment |

    Solid-state batteries have recently attracted great interest as potentially safe and stable high-energy storage systems. However, key issues remain unsolved, hindering full-scale commercialization.

    • Jürgen Janek
    •  & Wolfgang G. Zeier
  • Comment |

    The framing of funding programmes can sustain existing ways of conceptualizing particular problems, as well as create new ones. Yet, without more prominent roles for social sciences and humanities, the techno-economic conceptualization of energy consumers could hinder long-term low-carbon aspirations.

    • Chris Foulds
    •  & Toke Haunstrup Christensen
  • Comment |

    Scholars and practitioners have advocated for greater public participation in decisions about renewable energy technologies. Nonetheless, many questions remain regarding the role of the public and the scope, purpose and openness of these decision processes.

    • David Bidwell
  • Comment |

    Solar power is increasingly economical, but its value to the grid decreases as its penetration grows, and existing technologies may not remain competitive. We propose a mid-century cost target of US$0.25 per W and encourage the industry to invest in new technologies and deployment models to meet it.

    • Varun Sivaram
    •  & Shayle Kann