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Volume 1 Issue 3, March 2016

Driving change

Development of alternative fuel technologies to decarbonize transport requires support from industry, policy and society, yet their interest in specific options has changed over time. Melton et al. analyse data on media, innovation and funding attention for a range of alternative fuels to assess how their adoption might be better supported.

See Melton et al. 1, 16013 (2016).

Image: © EyeEm / Alamy Stock Photo. Cover design: Alex Wing.


  • The European Commission's energy security package lays out the EU's commitment to the Energy Union but leaves some doubt about its commitment to the clean energy transition.



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Comment & Opinion

  • Energy modelling has a crucial underpinning role for policy making, but the modelling–policy interface faces several limitations. A reinvention of this interface would better provide timely, targeted, tested, transparent and iterated insights from such complex multidisciplinary tools.

    • Neil Strachan
    • Birgit Fais
    • Hannah Daly
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Books & Arts

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  • Could a partnership between a small town and a large utility help to transform the Australian electricity grid?

    • Michael Green
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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • The performance of CdTe solar cells — cheaper alternatives to silicon photovoltaics — is hampered by their low output voltages, which are normally well below the theoretical limit. Now, record voltages of over 1 V have been reported in single-crystal CdTe heterostructure solar cells, which are close to those of benchmark GaAs cells.

    • Jonathan D. Poplawsky
    News & Views
  • The chemistry of the discharge products of metal–oxygen batteries is related to the battery's efficiency but knowledge of their formation mechanism is incomplete. Now, the initial discharge product in sodium–oxygen batteries is shown to be sodium superoxide, which undergoes dissolution and then transforms to sodium peroxide dihydrate.

    • Sampson Lau
    • Lynden A. Archer
    News & Views
  • The transport sector must undergo radical changes if it is to reduce its carbon emissions, calling for alternative vehicles and fuel types. Researchers now analyse the expectation cycles for different fuel technologies and draw lessons for the role of US policy in supporting them.

    • Kornelia Konrad
    News & Views
  • The oxidation of water is essential to the sustainable production of fuels using sunlight or electricity, but designing active, stable and earth-abundant catalysts for the reaction is challenging. Now, a complex containing five iron atoms is shown to efficiently oxidize water by mimicking key features of the oxygen-evolving complex in green plants.

    • Julio Lloret-Fillol
    • Miquel Costas
    News & Views
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  • The use of doped-silicon contacts in silicon solar cells adds cost and complexity to the fabrication process. These issues can now be circumvented by using dopant-free carrier-selective interfaces on silicon, realized by alkali metal fluorides and metal oxides.

    • James Bullock
    • Mark Hettick
    • Ali Javey
  • Alternative fuel technologies are crucial to decarbonize transport, but attention has shifted among options over time. This study presents an analysis of media, innovation and funding data for these different options and recommends actions to help move beyond hype to support technology adoption.

    • Noel Melton
    • Jonn Axsen
    • Daniel Sperling
  • Solar cells based on CdTe are a promising low-cost alternative to mainstream Si devices, but they usually produce voltages below 900 mV. Burst et al. now show that open-circuit voltages greater than 1 V can be achieved by doping the CdTe with a group V element.

    • J. M. Burst
    • J. N. Duenow
    • W. K. Metzger
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