Universities have long relied on microgrids—small, on-site power plants—to reliably power their campuses. As the need to reduce carbon emissions increases, institutions, including MIT, are leading the charge by improving the efficiency of their energy systems.
MIT sees the upgrades to its cogeneration plant—currently underway—as a bridge to the future. By doubling its turbine capacity to 42 megawatts, the plant is projected to meet all of the Institute’s energy needs by 2020. The upgraded plant will emit 10% fewer greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 than it did in 2014, and help MIT meet its goal to reduce overall emissions 32% by 2030.
The plant will also safeguard against the effects of extreme storms, like those seen during Superstorm Sandy in 2012: its turbines can be restarted without external power, and key components are situated above the anticipated 500-year flood level.
“There’s an emerging movement in higher education towards resiliency,” Julie Newman, director of MIT’s Office of Sustainability, told National Geographic, noting that MIT will eventually be able to “withstand anything that happens around us.”
Read more about how MIT and other universities are developing innovative ways to efficiently power their campuses at National Geographic.