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The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, John Reilly, co-director emeritus of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, outlines a roadmap for how the U.S. can meet the Biden administration’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions 50% by 2030 below 2005 levels. “By exploiting declining costs of zero- and low-carbon energy sources in a more aggressive and focused way, the U.S. can meet its target within eight years,” writes Reilly, “all while substantially reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, including high-priced gasoline, and cutting back the air pollution, climate and health impacts resulting from their combustion.”

Scientific American

In a recent case study, Steven Gonzalez Monserrate PhD ’22 makes the case that the environmental cost of computer science, specifically computer cloud storage and data centers, are huge and will only continue to rise, reports Naomi Oreskes for Scientific American. “The cloud, he [Monserrate] contends, is a ‘carbonivore’: a single data center can use the same amount of electricity as 50,000 homes,” writes Oreskes. “The entire cloud has a greater carbon footprint than the entire airline industry.”

Popular Mechanics

Researchers from MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) are working on making commercial nuclear fusion a reality, reports Juandre for Popular Mechanics. “CFS will build [the tokamak] SPARC and develop a commercial fusion product, while MIT PSFC will focus on its core mission of cutting-edge research and education,” says Prof. Dennis G. Whyte, director of the PSFC. 

Radio Boston (WBUR)

Associate Provost Richard Lester and Prof. Noelle Selin speak with Tiziana Dearing, host of Radio Boston, about MIT’s Climate Grand Challenges. “To me, the Climate Grand Challenges effort really represents that we’re kind of at a frameshift when thinking about the climate problem. It’s not just a problem that some people can work on,” says Selin. “A climate challenge is a whole of society challenge, and therefore it really has to be a whole of MIT challenge.” Lester adds he hopes the challenges will “inspire a new generation of students to roll up their sleeves, put their shoulders to the wheel and help us solve this problem.”

Forbes

Prof. Jessika Trancik speaks with Forbes contributor Peter Cohan about the carbon emissions associated with gas, hybrid and electric vehicles, and the site she and her research group developed to allow consumers to compare personal vehicles against climate change mitigation targets. “In most locations, compared to [gas-powered vehicles], EVs produce emissions savings greater than 30%,” says Trancik. "Most savings are greater depending on the geographic location, the electricity supply, and the vehicle model.”

WBUR

WBUR reporter Bruce Gellerman spotlights a new report by MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) researchers that emphasizes the importance of developing and deploying new ways to store renewable energy in order to transition to clean energy. “There are a variety of technologies and if we can develop [them] and drive those costs down, it could make getting to net-zero or zero in the electricity sector more affordable,” says Prof. Robert Armstrong, MITEI director.

The Boston Globe

A new report by researchers from MIT’s Energy Initiative (MITEI) underscores the feasibility of using energy storage systems to almost completely eliminate the need for fossil fuels to operate regional power grids, reports David Abel for The Boston Globe. “Our study finds that energy storage can help [renewable energy]-dominated electricity systems balance electricity supply and demand while maintaining reliability in a cost-effective manner,” says Prof. Robert Armstrong, director of MITEI.

Gizmodo

Researchers at MIT have built a highly efficient thermophotovoltaic cell that converts incoming photons to electricity, reports Kevin Hurler for Gizmodo. “We developed this technology—thermal batteries—because storing energy as heat rather than storing it electrochemically is 10 to 100 times cheaper," explains Prof. Asegun Henry. 

CBS

“MIT researchers concluded wood burns dirtier than coal, and determined it takes at least 44 years for replanted trees to adsorb the carbon released from burning the ones they replaced,” reports CBS News correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti.

Bloomberg

Bruce Anderson ’73, founder and CEO of MIT spinout 247 Solar, speaks with Bloomberg Baystate Business Hour host Janet Wu about the power of solar energy and growing climate concerns for the future. “We are facing dire circumstances here,” says Anderson. “We have no clue what the climate’s tipping point is where it all of sudden goes in a direction that we cannot recover from, no matter how much carbon we remove from the air."

State House News

MIT President L. Rafael Reif and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry discussed the urgency of addressing climate change during the Climate Grand Challenges Showcase event, reports Chris Lisinski for the State House News Service. “Climate change has been called a ‘super wicked’ problem. In Boston, that might sound like a local way of saying ‘really hard,’ but this phrase is actually a technical term,” Reif said. “It describes any enormously complex societal problem that has no single right answer and no clear finish line as well as multiple stakeholders with conflicting priorities and no central authority empowered to solve it.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Connie Lin spotlights how Algorand, an MIT startup founded by Prof. Silvio Micali, dimmed the lights in Times Square on April 21 to help conserve energy and demonstrate how cryptocurrency could reduce energy consumption. Algorand has developed a carbon-negative blockchain protocol and “utilizes a pure proof-of-stake consensus mechanism to verify authentic transactions.”

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News reporter Janet Wu speaks with President L. Rafael Reif and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry during the Institute’s Climate Grand Challenges showcase event. “If you can capture the emissions -- literally, genuinely -- then you’re reducing the problem,” said Kerry of the importance of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

ABC News

Prof. Jessika Trancik speaks with ABC News about the urgent need to transition to renewable energy sources, and how we can build a future powered by alternative energy. “Up until recently there were really significant questions about whether we could transition to another [energy] foundation,” says Trancik. “This question has now been answered in that we now have cost competitive renewable primary energy in the form of solar and wind energy and also in other types of renewable energy.”

Science

A team of researchers from MIT and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory successfully reached a 30% jump in thermophotovoltaic (TPV) efficiency, reports Robert F. Service for Science. “[TPV] is a semiconductor structure that concerts photons emitted from a heat source to electricity, just as a solar cell transforms sunlight into power,” explains Service.