The Future of the Electric Grid

This report aims to provide a comprehensive, objective portrait of the U.S. electric grid and the challenges and opportunities it is likely to face over the next two decades. It also highlights a number of areas in which policy changes, focused research and demonstration, and the collection and sharing of important data can facilitate meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities that the grid will face.

This study is the sixth in the MIT Energy Initiative’s “Future of” series. Its predecessors have shed light on a range of complex and important issues involving energy and the environment. While the previous studies have focused on particular technologies and energy supply, our study of the grid necessarily considers many technologies and multiple overlapping physical and regulatory systems. Because of this breadth, our efforts were focused on integrating and evaluating existing knowledge rather than performing original research and analysis. In addition, this study’s predecessors focused on implications of national policies limiting carbon emissions, while we do not make assumptions regarding future carbon policy initiatives. Instead, we mainly consider the implications of a set of ongoing trends and existing policies.


Study Participants

Gary Desgroseilliers Executive Director
Timothy Heidel Research Director Postdoctoral Associate MIT Energy Initiative
Khurram Afridi Associate Professor and Werner-von-Siemens Chair for Power Electronics, Lahore University of Management Sciences, School of Science and Engineering, Pakistan; Visiting Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Amro Farid Assistant Professor of Engineering Systems and Management, Masdar Institute, UAE; Research Affiliate, Technology and Development Program, MIT
Jerrold Grochow Research Affiliate, MIT Energy Initiative; Former Vice President for Information Services and Technology, MIT
William Hogan Raymond Plank Professor of Global Energy Policy; Research Director, Harvard Electricity Policy Group, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Ignacio Perez-Arriaga Professor of Electrical Engineering Comillas University, Spain; Visiting Professor, Engineering Systems Division, MIT
Nancy Rose Charles P. Kindleberger Professor of Applied Economics, MIT
Gerald Wilson Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering Emeritus, MIT; Former Dean, MIT School of Engineering

Student Research Assistants

Nabi Abduldah Wageningen University, The Netherlands; Visiting Student, MIT
Minjie Chen Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Pearl Donohoo Engineering Systems Division, MIT
Samantha Gunter Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
P. Jordan Kwok Engineering Systems Division, MIT
Vivek Sakhrani Engineering Systems Division, MIT
JIankang Wang Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
Andrew Whitaker Engineering Systems Division, MIT
Xiang Ling Yap Harvard University Engineering Systems Division, MIT
Richard Zhang Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT

Advisory Committee Members

J. Bennett Johnson - Chair United States Senate (retired)
George Arnold National Institute of Standards and Technology
Lisa Barton American Electric Power
Troy Batterberry and Elizabeth Grossman Microsoft Corporation
William Berry Dominion Resources (Retired)
Clark Gellings Electric Power Research Institute
Robert Gilligan and Larry Sollecito General Electric Company
Laura Ipsen and Paul De Martini Cisco Systems
Paul Joskow Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Elizabeth Anne Moler Former Chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Steven Naumann Exelon Corporation
Pedro Pizarro and David Mead Southern California Edison
Claes Rytoft ABB Group
Miguel Angel Sanchez Fornie Iberdrola S.A.
Basem Sarandah Nexant, Inc.
J. Charles Smith Utility Wind Integration Group
Susan Tierney Analysis Group
Gordon Van Welie ISO New England
Stephen Whitley New York ISO