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Updated: December 26, 2022 economic forecast 2023

Energy & environment 2023 economic forecast: Better sources of power

Photo | Courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute Yan Wang first joined Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2011 and is now director of its Electrochemical Energy Laboratory.

Massachusetts has put into place some of the country’s most ambitious climate and energy laws. Massachusetts ranked second, again, in the 2022 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Even with that ranking, there’s still a long way to go to becoming more energy efficient and less reliant on outside forces.

The electric vehicle market will grow

The number of alternative fuel vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles models has risen steadily for years and hit 261 in 2021, and that trend doesn't seem to be slowing down. With all the new models, it’s giving people a choice, and they’re beginning to switch from gas-powered vehicles to electric ones. A new record of more than 200,000 EVs were sold in the third quarter of 2022 in the U.S., and that trend will continue as more EV infrastructure is built thanks to the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Geothermal energy will become more commonplace

While geothermal heat pumps have been available for homes for years, utility companies are now trying to harness the Earth’s energy to create a grid of renewable energy. Eversource Energy has piloted a program in Framingham to complement or replace delivered fuels and natural gas service for heating and cooling. National Grid has plans for its own pilot programs.

Fusion is the new frontier

In December, officials at the U.S. Department of Energy announced a major scientific breakthrough: For the first time, a nuclear fusion reaction had created more power than it needed to start and sustain it. Fusion, which generates energy using the same process as the sun, has the potential for being an emissions-free form of electricity, with zero waste products. One of the main private companies pursuing this work is based in Central Massachusetts: Commonwealth Fusion Systems. This company backed by Bill Gates and spun out of technology developed at MIT is building a $300-million, 47-acre facility in Devens, with the goal of developing and building a power plant that can be hooked up to the electric grid in the early 2030s.

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