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Surprising successes helped offset disappointing failures in solar, biofuels, and nuclear power.
The influential biofuels startup failed because its technology proved too expensive.
New technology could tip the balance back in favor of some solar-panel manufacturers outside China.
The approach could boost U.S. lithium production—just as demand is set to soar with increased electric-vehicle usage.
The company had a head start on technology that allows solar cells to be manufactured more cheaply, but lost out to Chinese competitors.