Apr 2, 2020
TIL about wind and solar
Play • 12 min

What will it take to generate the electricity our society needs, without generating carbon emissions? In this episode of TILclimate (Today I Learned Climate), Dr. Magdalena Klemun at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems and Society joins host Laur Hesse Fisher to begin exploring this question, starting with wind and solar power. What exactly are wind and solar power? What challenges do we currently face when trying to use wind and solar to generate most of our electricity? What’s the role of energy storage, and what could our future zero-carbon energy mix look like? 

Dr. Magdalena Klemun, a postdoctoral associate at the Trancik Lab at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems and Society, works on understanding how the economic and environmental performance of technologies evolve in response to different innovation efforts, with an emphasis on the cost evolution of photovoltaic systems and nuclear power plants, and on the environmental performance evolution of natural gas technologies. She has degrees from MIT, Columbia University, and Vienna University of Technology.

TILclimate is produced by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative.

Season two of TILclimate focuses on our global energy system, its relationship to climate change, and what our options are for keeping the lights on while creating a clean energy future. We're partnering with the MIT Energy Initiative, which will air longer interviews with each guest to take a deeper dive into these topics.

For more episodes of TILclimate by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, visit tilclimate.mit.edu

For related podcasts from the MIT Energy Initiative, visit:

Energy technology evolution: http://energy.mit.edu/podcast/21

Firm low-carbon energy resources: http://energy.mit.edu/podcast/firm-low-carbon-energy-resources/

Batteries & storage: http://energy.mit.edu/podcast/batteries-and-storage/

Game-changing solar: http://energy.mit.edu/podcast/game-changing-solar/

For more information on the world’s current energy breakdown, visit: https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics?country=WORLD&fuel=Energy%20supply&indicator=Total%20primary%20energy%20supply%20(TPES)%20by%20source

For the full break-down of where the US gets its energy:


Check out this selection of Dr. Klemun’s research:

Mitigating Methane Emissions of Natural Gas: 


Intersection between Emissions Reductions and Technological Innovation in Wind and Solar:


For a more in-depth analysis of storage requirements for decarbonization, check out this study:


For a closer look at potential low-carbon energy mixes for future decarbonization, check out this study: 



Produced by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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