MIT’s Energy at Scale Center seeks to address the massive scaling requirements necessary for low-carbon technologies to make a substantial contribution to future global energy needs, in collaboration with industry, government, and nonprofit members. We examine economic, technical, environmental, political, and public opinion barriers for deployment.

Low‑carbon energy sources require a very large deployment scale in order to make a substantial contribution to future global energy needs (e.g., at a level of the current global contribution of natural gas of 100 or more exajoules [EJ]/year). The potential barriers and impacts of deployment are all interrelated and can be considerable, even for sources like wind, biomass, and solar.

We explore these risks using our Integrated Global System Modeling (IGSM) framework that combines the Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) model, MIT Earth System Model (MESM), as well as a portfolio of impact assessment models that focus on life‑sustaining resources (e.g., managed water systems, crop production, ecosystem/forest services, wind/solar/hydropower, and air quality). These linked computer models allow us to analyze a wide range of development pathways in the global energy, agricultural, transportation, and other key sectors.

Our researchers have substantial experience identifying challenges, hazards, and potential barriers to low‑carbon options deployed at continental to global scales, and can provide expert guidance on economically feasible solutions. The collaborations between our researchers and member organizations will provide the foundation and frontiers of knowledge, strategies, and policies to identify the most viable deployment opportunities of low-carbon energy technologies. By galvanizing stronger connections across the threads of research, we have a unique opportunity to produce quantifiable assessments of trade-offs and opportunities, as well as risk‑based assessments.

The Energy at Scale Center is administered by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and the MIT Energy Initiative.