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MIT Utility of the Future Study Nears Completion

Distributed energy is transforming the power system

BOSTON - A massive study of the future of the world’s utilities, rapidly nearing completion, will point the way to engineer an ever more efficient, sustainable and resilient grid, according to one of the study’s principal architects.

The effort explores how distributed energy resources are transforming the power system.

“We are examining how to provide signals to the power system to induce the most efficient resources to be allocated,” Raanan Miller, executive director of the MIT Energy Initiative’s Utility of the Future study told The Energy Times in an exclusive interview.

Raanan Miller /// Photo by Martin Rosenberg


“It will be prescriptive in regulatory aspects, market structure and policy recommendations,” Miller said.

It also will be balanced.

 “We will not be taking sides when it comes to distributed energy versus centralized power,” he said. “We want a level playing field.”

The study, which has involved more than 35 authors and contributors at MIT and experts from around the world, is expected to be ready for release in the coming months.

Its authors are thoroughly reviewing energy policy initiatives across the United States and Europe, he said, to identify “the best practices and the worst practices in both locations.”

Similar to MIT’s “Future of…” study series, which includes The Future of Solar and The Future of Natural Gas, the MIT Energy Initiative is releasing another analysis-based report providing policy and regulatory recommendations, this time examining how the existence of distributed energy resources may change the supply and utilization of electricity services over the next decade.  

The Utility of the Future is the first in a new series of MITEI reports based in large part on primary research conducted by MIT and study collaborators, and supported by a consortium of companies and organizations related to the sector.  The Utility of the Future study entails a substantial amount of “primary research, modeling and analysis, leveraging numerous novel models developed by the team,” Miller said.

“Will there be any shocking conclusions?” Miller was asked.

“Nothing shocking,” he said, but “hopefully, impactful analysis-based ideas and recommendations.”

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