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Green energy has been increasingly demanded with the rapid development of economy and population. The electrochemical performance of energy storage devices could be improved by using nanomaterials, but their fast capacity fading is still one of the key limitations. The intrinsic reasons of capacity fading need to be further understood. Here, we review some single nanowire electrode devices designed as a unique platform for in situ probing the direct relationship between electrical transport, structure, and other properties of the single nanowire electrode before and after cycling. It is found that the conductivity decrease of the nanowire electrode and the structural change during electrochemical reaction limited devices' lifespan. Some strategies, such as prelithiation, conductive coating and structural construction, are designed and used to restrain the conductivity decrease and structural disorder/destruction, which improve the lifespan and rate capability of energy storage devices. Further, the stand-alone rechargeable nanobatteries built up by nanowires are able to meet the needs of energy storage in self-powered nanosystems.