Can AI transform our energy solutions and catalyse sustainable growth?

During the pandemic, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in terms of lifestyle practices and energy consumption patterns, with national lockdowns and travel restrictions temporarily reducing global carbon emissions. However, with more and more people receiving vaccines every day, and trade networks re-opening, we must level-up efforts to identify long-term sustainable solutions for our energy systems.

Artificial intelligence (AI) enables computers and machines to mimic learning, problem-solving and decision-making capabilities to rapidly process data, offer key insights, and provide informed strategic decisions. AI can be an enabling tool in the energy sector, and can complement human efforts to identify new sustainable sources and reduce its environmental impact. In this digitalised era, data is recognised as the “new oil”, and AI’s ability to provide actionable insights for data makes it an indispensable tool in our efforts to transform our energy sector whilst accelerate our climate change strategy.

Revolutionising renewable energy

Access to energy is the bedrock of inclusive economic growth, and it’s been incredible to witness the proliferation of renewable energy sources across the world, particularly in the developing world. However, the potential of the renewables sector remains restricted by unpredictable weather patterns and sporadic climates. Such variability highlights the importance of accurate weather prediction and power generation forecasts, to ensure system reliability.

This is where AI comes in. I’ve seen an array of interesting examples where AI has been deployed to pre-empt sunshine and wind levels, providing a reliable estimate for electricity generation. One of the first announcements we saw was from Google’s DeepMind in 2019, which stated that the company could calculate wind power output 36 hours ahead of actual generation.

Following this, there has been an abundance of new projects, including IBM and the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative which combines predictive weather models, historical weather data, real-time data insights as well as cloud information derived from satellite imagery. IBM reported that this initiative has improved accuracy in solar forecasting by over 30%, which has proven incredibly cost-effective.

Enhancing e-mobility

The transport sector is arguably where AI’s incredible potential is most visible. Through catalysing electric vehicle (EV) innovation, streamlining manufacturing processes, and even forecasting traffic and reducing congestion, AI is having a profound impact across the whole value chain.

Using AI, research teams are able to fast track their development process and produce improved batteries which deliver better performance and quicker charging times. My VC fund, Singulariteam, focuses on the development of technology based companies by providing capital and additional support services. We came across StoreDot several years ago, and after seeing the pioneering vision of the company and their impressive technological development, we participated in its first round of funding. Since then, the company has made considerable progress, and earlier this year announced the commercial viability of their EV batteries which can charge in just 5 minutes. AI has been instrumental in StoreDot’s operations, enabling the team to test in a few weeks the efficacy of various battery models and material formulations that would usually take several years.

Harnessing AI, StoreDot is undoubtedly paving the way for mainstream EV adoption by producing efficient batteries, reducing range anxiety, and thereby helping the world meet climate change goals.

Using AI to shape a sustainable future

Technology is continually evolving, and we’re increasingly finding new and practical applications for AI to help improve the efficiency and reliability of many of our sectors. As we overcome the coronavirus pandemic and begin to “build back better”, harnessing the best technology at our disposal must be a top priority, so that we not only craft a future that is not only prosperous but also sustainable.