MIT and Italy’s Eni Sign $50 Million Energy Research Agreement

1/15/08Follow @bbuderi

MIT and the Italian energy giant Eni today announced a five-year, $50 million research agreement focused on a wide array of energy studies and initiatives.

Half the funding will be used to create the Eni-MITEI (for MIT Energy Initiative) Solar Frontiers Research Program, a far-reaching collaboration whose six specific areas of focus will include nano-structured thin-film photovoltaics, self-assembling photovoltaic materials, luminescent solar concentrators, water splitting, materials for solar energy capture and storage, and ways to maximize the return on investment for solar thermal plants.

The other $25 million of Eni’s investment will establish the company as a founding member of MITEI, a separate program that spans research, education, energy security efforts, supply and demand studies, and a variety of other energy-related programs at the university, including research aimed at enhancing oil recovery.

In a statement, MITEI director Ernest J. Moniz depicted the agreement as illustrative of a much-needed type of collaboration between academic institutions and industry. “To meet the world’s energy needs we will likely need partnerships between entrepreneurial energy technology innovation companies and companies with global distribution networks, such as Eni. This investment…could pay big dividends in the future by strengthening a key link in the energy innovation chain,” he said.

MIT President Susan Hockfield also said in the release that “for a global oil and gas company like Eni to invest in renewable energy options speaks volumes about the urgent need for large-scale carbon-free energy options like solar.”

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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