Utility of the future: An MIT Energy Initiative response to an industry in transition

Last modified: March 17, 2019

The Utility of the Future study is the first of a new series of reports that is being produced by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) to serve as balanced, fact-based, and analysis-driven guides to key topic areas in energy for a wide range of decision makers in government and industry.

This study specifically aims to serve as a guide for policy makers, regulators, utilities, existing and startup energy companies, and other power-sector stakeholders to better understand the factors that are currently driving change in power systems worldwide. The report distills results and findings from more than two years of primary research, a review of the state of the art, and quantitative modeling and analysis.

An important evolution in the provision and consumption of electricity services is now underway, driven to a significant degree by a confluence of factors affecting the distribution side of the power system. A range of more distributed technologies—including flexible demand, distributed generation, energy storage, and advanced power electronics and control devices—is creating new options for the provision and consumption of electricity services. In many cases, these novel resources are enabled by increasingly affordable and ubiquitous information and communication technologies and by the growing digitalization of power systems. In light of these developments, the MIT Energy Initiative’s Utility of the Future study examines how the provision and consumption of electricity services is likely to evolve over the next 10 to 15 years in different parts of the world and under diverse regulatory regimes, with a focus on the United States and Europe.