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This contribution was presented as the closing lecture at the Faraday Discussion 155 on artificial photosynthesis, held in Edinburgh Scotland, September 5–7 2011. The world needs new, environmentally friendly and renewable fuels to exchange for fossil fuels. The fuel must be made from cheap and “endless” resources that are available everywhere. The new research area of solar fuels aims to meet this demand. This paper discusses why we need a solar fuel and why electricity is not enough; it proposes solar energy as the major renewable energy source to feed from. The scientific field concerning artificial photosynthesis expands rapidly and most of the different scientific visions for solar fuels are briefly overviewed. Research strategies and the development of artificial photosynthesis research to produce solar fuels are overviewed. Some conceptual aspects of research for artificial photosynthesis are discussed in closer detail.
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