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This April MIT announced two major solar-research initiatives totaling $20 million.

The Solar Revolution Project, started with $10 million in unrestricted funding from the Chesonis Family Foundation, will offer 30 five-year energy fellowships for graduate students and provide seed funding for the MIT Energy Initiative. Its goal is to change the way we use energy by 2018.

The other new solar initiative, the MIT-Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, is a collaboration with a major German research institute; it aims to develop green building technologies and solar technologies that can be put in place within the next five years. Funded with $10 million from donors including the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and National Grid, the center will be housed in a building adjacent to campus.

Solar power that relies on current technologies is too expensive to displace cheap but dirty energy sources such as coal. Through these initiatives and other ongoing solar research on campus, MIT hopes to develop novel ways to capture, convert, and store the sun’s energy at low cost.

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Credit: Rainer Dittrich

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