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Sunlight to Electricity: Navigating the Field

Solar power plant capacity increased fifty-fold between 2006 and 2016, dominated first by expansion in Europe then in Asia. Comparatively, the Americas have been small players. Looking ahead, it is possible that solar power will become a primary contributor to the world’s electric power system by mid-century, but there is still a long way to go. In 2016 about 1.5 percent of total global electricity came from solar power. In the U.S. the percentage was about the same.

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Welcome
Article 1: Overview
Article 2: Key concepts and Vocabulary
Article 3: From the Sun to the Solar Project
Article 4: Solar Cell Technology
Article 5: Grid Integration and Policy
Appendix: The Princeton University Solar Project

Fusion Energy via Magnetic Confinement

Nuclear fusion has enormous promise as a global energy source. The fuel is nearly inexhaustible and the waste products have less environmental impact than the wastes associated with fossil fuels and nuclear fission. Making affordable fusion energy would be a remarkable human achievement. To appreciate some of the key challenges, we examine magnetic confinement fusion energy from four perspectives: Technology, Economics, Fusion and Fission, and Politics and Progress.

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Prologue and Article 1: Overview
Article 2: Key Concepts
Article 3: Technology
Article 4: Economics
Article 5: Fusion and Fission
Article 6: Politics and Progress

Small Modular Reactors

The future of nuclear power over the next few decades is murky everywhere. Today, nuclear power provides about 10 percent of the world’s electricity, down from its historical maximum of nearly 18 percent in 1996. In the U.S. and other industrialized countries, a looming question is whether, when the current nuclear power plants are retired, they will be replaced by other nuclear plants. In China and other industrializing countries, the central question is how much nuclear power will be built. Both a continuation of the current steady decline and an expansion driven by the developing world are conceivable.

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Article 1: Overview
Article 2: Families of small modular reactors
Article 3: Safety
Article 4: Linkages to nuclear weapons
Article 5: Siting flexibility
Article 6: Economics
Article 7: Policy
Appendix: Key concepts and vocabulary

Grid Scale Electricity Storage

The future of renewable energy, primarily wind and solar, is intertwined with the development and deployment of energy storage technologies. This Energy Technology Distillate describes the fundamentals of energy storage, including leading technologies and their challenges, key costs, and important regulatory initiatives that are acting to drive commercial deployment.

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Article 1: Overview
Article 2: Key concepts in electricity storage
Article 3: The economics of multi-hour electricity storage
Article 4: The technological frontier of electrochemical energy storage
Article 5: Storage for grid reliability under variability and uncertainty
Article 6: Multi-hour electricity storage and climate change
Article 7: Supporting innovative electricity storage with federal and state policy