Making Energy and Cutting Carbon

The global demand for energy is expected to double from current levels by 2050. Yet current energy production is already releasing dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide (CO₂) into the atmosphere. In order to provide for future energy needs without further jeopardizing the health of the planet, academia, industry, and policy makers need to transform the global energy system so that it emits far less carbon.

MIT will spearhead that effort with the creation of eight Low-Carbon Energy Centers. Launched by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), the advanced research centers are a priority of the MIT Climate Action Plan. Each of the eight will focus on a technology area key to addressing climate change: solar; energy storage; materials for energy and extreme environments; carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration; advanced nuclear energy systems; nuclear fusion; energy bioscience; and electric power systems.

MIT has a deep pool of talent in the field. Approximately one-third of MIT’s faculty already work with MITEI on energy and climate problems. For example, Yang Shao-Horn, W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, has explored a wide range of chemical, photochemical, and surface materials for energy conversion and storage. And Anne White, Cecil and Ida Green Associate Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering, is an expert in plasma turbulence, a key obstacle in realizing fusion’s potential as a clean, economical energy source; her lab is an international leader in fusion reactor design.

Published in April 2016.