Photo‐electrochemical (PEC) solar energy conversion offers the promise of low‐cost renewable fuel generation from abundant sunlight and water. In this Review, recent developments in photo‐electrochemical water splitting are discussed with respect to this promise. State‐of‐the‐art photo‐electrochemical device performance is put in context with the current understanding of the necessary requirements for cost‐effective solar hydrogen generation (in terms of solar‐to‐hydrogen conversion efficiency and system durability, in particular). Several important studies of photo‐electrochemical hydrogen generation at p‐type photocathodes are highlighted, mostly with protection layers (for enhanced durability), but also a few recent examples where protective layers are not needed. Recent work with the widely studied n‐type BiVO4 photoanode is detailed, which highlights the needs and necessities for the next big photoanode material yet to be discovered. The emerging new research direction of photo‐electrocatalytic upgrading of biomass substrates toward value‐added chemicals is then discussed, before closing with a commentary on how research on PEC materials remains a worthwhile endeavor.