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Addressing the challenge of carbon-free energy

Eisenberg, Richard and Gray, Harry B. and Crabtree, George W. (2020) Addressing the challenge of carbon-free energy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117 (23). pp. 12543-12549. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC7293696. doi:10.1073/pnas.1821674116.

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This century will witness a major transformation in how energy is acquired, stored, and utilized globally. The impetus for this change comes from the deep impacts that both developed and developing societies have had on our planet’s environment during the past century, and the projections going forward of what will happen if we do not act transformatively within the next 2 decades. This paper describes the basis for a meeting held in October 2018 on the need for decarbonization in our energy landscape, and specifically the status and challenges of the science that provides the foundation for such technology. Within the realm of decarbonization in energy generation lies the science of solar energy conversion using new or improved photovoltaic materials and artificial photosynthesis for water splitting and other energy-storing reactions. The intimately related issue of renewable energy storage is being addressed with new strategies, materials, and approaches under current investigation and development. The need to improve the interactions between scientists working on these connected but separately considered challenges and on the transition of scientific achievement to practical application was also addressed, with specific efforts enumerated.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Gray, Harry B.0000-0002-7937-7876
Crabtree, George W.0000-0002-8494-4468
Additional Information:© 2019 National Academy of Sciences. Published under the PNAS license. Edited by David A. Weitz, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and approved August 19, 2019 (received for review April 4, 2019). PNAS first published October 7, 2019. R.E., H.B.G., and G.W.C. contributed equally to this work. Author contributions: R.E., H.B.G., and G.W.C. analyzed data and wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This paper results from the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences, “Status and Challenges in Decarbonizing our Energy Landscape,” held October 10–12, 2018, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, CA. NAS colloquia began in 1991 and have been published in PNAS since 1995. From February 2001 through May 2019 colloquia were supported by a generous gift from The Dame Jillian and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, & Humanities, in memory of Dame Sackler’s husband, Arthur M. Sackler. The complete program and video recordings of most presentations are available on the NAS website at This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
Subject Keywords:climate changede; carbonization; energy; solar energy; renewable energy
Issue or Number:23
PubMed Central ID:PMC7293696
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20191007-142915530
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Addressing the challenge of carbon-free energy. Richard Eisenberg, Harry B. Gray, George W. Crabtree. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2020, 117 (23) 12543-12549; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1821674116
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:99123
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:07 Oct 2019 22:17
Last Modified:15 Feb 2022 20:14

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