Floating solar farms have been installed on reservoirs in Great Britain and Japan, but have been slow to gain a foothold in the United States. Why?
Dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy production and use and transitioning from a petroleum-based global transportation system will require significant innovation. There is much focus on research, development and demonstration of new and improved energy technologies that may be deployed in the relatively near future. However, it is crucial that we also nurture basic research that can generate breakthrough concepts and accelerate the development and broad application of cutting-edge scientific, engineering and analytical tools to energy challenges. MITEI will capitalize on the MIT faculty's strengths across the research frontier by seeding research projects that apply the most advanced tools and capabilities from multiple disciplines to energy transformational opportunities. Challenges such as very large-scale "carbon-free" energy will persist for a long time and incremental advances will not sustain the needed energy system transformation deep into the 21st century. Strategically directed basic research will be key.