The MIT Energy Initiative

Linking science, innovation, and policy to transform the world's energy systems


Energy Research Council Report

Download the Energy Research Council Report (pdf) — the foundation document for the MITEI structure and programs.

The MIT Energy Initiative is MIT’s hub for energy research, education, and outreach. Through these three pillars, we help develop the technologies and solutions that will deliver clean, affordable, and plentiful sources of energy. Our mission is to create low- and no-carbon solutions that will efficiently meet global energy needs while minimizing environmental impacts and mitigating climate change.

Our first pillar—research—pairs world-class research teams from across the Institute with MITEI's government and industry members to respond to specific energy challenges. Through our Low-Carbon Energy Centers, currently under development, companies and government entities can join to advance research through these consortia focused on particular technology areas: solar; energy storage; nuclear fission; nuclear fusion; advanced materials for extreme energy environments; carbon capture, use, and storage; energy bioscience; and the electrical grid. MITEI’s Low-Carbon Energy Centers are a part of MIT’s Plan for Action on Climate Change.

Our second pillar is education. MITEI created and administers the interdisciplinary Energy Studies Minor for undergraduates. Through this program and other initiatives such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in energy, MIT educates the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and policymakers who will help solve our energy challenges.

MITEI’s third pillar is outreach—providing in-depth, high-quality analysis about current energy topics for policymakers and industry leaders. Our “Future of” studies are produced by multidisciplinary teams of MIT faculty and researchers, and are an integral part of MITEI’s outreach activities. In May 2015, we released The Future of Solar Energy, the seventh report in the “Future of” series. Each report examines the role of a specific energy source in meeting future energy demand under carbon dioxide emissions constraints.

History

The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) was built according to a template laid out in the 2006 Report of the Energy Research Council commissioned by President Hockfield. The report called for new approaches to multidisciplinary research, education across school and department boundaries, a more energy efficient campus reached in part through student-led projects, and outreach to the policy world through technically grounded analysis. It also emphasized the importance of another MIT strengthpartnering with industry as a prime locus for the clean energy transformation needed to address economic, environmental, and security concerns associated with the current energy system.

Drawing on the recommendations in that report, MITEI was launched in the fall of 2006, creating a new platform for highly focused energy-related activity at MIT.

In addition to the current areas of focus on research, education, and outreach, MITEI was also responsible for creating the campus energy program, which sought major reductions in campus-wide energy use, utilizing the campus as a learning laboratory. Among the activities MITEI facilitated were energy system upgrades, student-run projects to reduce energy use and emissions, on-campus testing of specific innovative measures, a major study to look at all options and web postings of resulting guidelines for use by other universities and institutions. The MIT Office of Sustainability, launched in 2014, now leads campus energy efforts.

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