Research

Utility of the Future

The Utility of the Future brings together a diverse consortium of leading international companies to address emerging issues in the electric power sector, and provides a neutral framework within which to evaluate the economic, regulatory, and technological impacts of the ongoing evolution of the power sector worldwide. The study team from MIT and IIT-Comillas combines a breadth of skills in quantitative economic and engineering modeling, with a sophisticated understanding of the complex interactions in the electric power industry. The team includes faculty with decades of experience in advising governments, corporations, and institutions on regulation and market design. The consortium members—industry stakeholders and other market participants—bring valuable real-world expertise and experience to the study.

The MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) has a long history of identifying research topics that lend themselves to a consortium approach. Such topics benefit from aggregating a diverse set of perspectives on a set of critical issues facing the industry at large. This “commons” approach benefits all of the partners, while enabling each member to individually benefit from an increased understanding of the unique implications to their organization.

This comprehensive study has sought to address the technology, policy, and business models shaping the evolution of the delivery of electricity services. It examines several possible scenarios of the future of the electricity sector in order to inform utilities, regulators, policy makers, and new market actors attempting to navigate a rapidly changing industry.

Our objective is to evaluate new and emerging technologies and combinations of these technologies, such as rooftop solar, distributed generation, and demand response implemented in the distribution sector. In addition, we look at how the distributed and the centralized power systems will be coordinated in the delivery of energy services.

Over the course of the multi-year study, we have sought to answer key questions such as: