by David Chandler, MIT News Office
Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 5, 2011 — Over the 20 years, the U.S. electric grid will face unprecedented technological challenges stemming from the growth of distributed and intermittent new energy sources such as solar and wind power, as well as an expected influx of electric and hybrid vehicles that require frequent recharging. But a new MIT study concludes that — as long as some specific policy changes are made — the grid is most likely up to the challenge.
Utilities now spend very little on research, the study found, because regulators provide little incentive for them to do so. The report recommends that utilities put more money into research and development — both to make effective use of new technologies for monitoring and controlling the grid, and on customer response to pricing policies or incentives.