The AI innovations progressing industrial decarbonisation
The UK government recently awarded £4M in funding to companies harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) to advance industrial decarbonisation.
From energy and agriculture to ensuring AI technology itself is sustainable, here are some of the interesting businesses and projects selected and the problems they are setting out to solve.
Empowering key players in climate tech
As demonstrated by last year’s upheaval in the global energy industry, the ability to produce and distribute power underpins every aspect of society, highlighting the importance of renewable energy for building a supply that is both reliable and sustainable.
One organisation receiving funding from the UK government is non-profit research and development lab Open Climate Fix. The organisation is developing an AI solution that enables ESO, the operator for the UK’s electric grid, to more accurately predict weather conditions over solar panels.
When unexpected cloud cover impacts solar power generation, power networks fall back on fossil fuels to ensure a consistent supply of energy. The challenge here is that solar power generation can change in minutes, but fossil fuel power plants cannot boost their output quickly enough to compensate for a sudden drop in supply. These power plants must therefore produce surplus energy in advance “just in case,” leading to additional energy production that causes carbon emissions.
Open Climate Fix’s AI solution uses satellite images, weather data, and real-time solar generation data to improve forecasting capabilities. With it, ESO could reduce the amount of reserve fossil fuel energy needed, increasing efficiency and lowering the carbon footprint of energy production.
Not only is agriculture responsible for 10-12% of global greenhouse emissions, but it is itself impacted by climate change, which has direct implications for UK food security as the country imports 40% of the food it consumes.
As such, the UK government is investing in listt.io, a company founded to create solutions to help build regenerative natural systems. Its AI project is developing agricultural robotics that automate the monitoring of soil and crop health, which will contribute to the decarbonisation of crop management and dairy farms. Properly managing soil is an integral part of climate regulation, as soil is vital for carbon storage, and safeguarding food production and quality, which depends on soil carbon levels.
As innovators seize the advantages of AI and machine learning to reduce carbon emissions, boost efficiencies, and achieve sustainability, the technologies themselves have also come under scrutiny for their own carbon emissions. For AI-powered solutions to propel industries towards their sustainable future, it is imperative that they are built to be sustainable.
In light of this, the government fund is also supporting SECQAI to develop ultra-low-power AI hardware modelled on the structure of the human brain. This will significantly reduce the energy that AI technologies require and minimise the carbon footprint of existing AI solutions. By addressing the environmental impact of these technologies, SECQAI is helping to future-proof the UK’s approach to industrial decarbonisation.
Collaboration, not carbonisation
With many innovative projects and AI experts working in parallel, collaboration is key for consolidating efforts towards industrial decarbonisation. The UK government is facilitating this collaboration by supporting the launch of the AI for Decarbonisation’s Virtual Centre of Excellence (ADViCE).
This centre aims to unite experts, academics, and businesses to accelerate industrial decarbonisation and reduce global emissions through AI solutions. By bringing together carbon-heavy sectors with innovators from climate tech industries, the project looks to support organisations in meeting the UK’s net zero target through the integration of AI, data, and expertise.
Events such as the upcoming London Climate Technology Show on 26 and 27 September provide a vital platform for cutting-edge technology solutions like these to raise awareness with change makers, from global investors and government representatives to the media.
GingerMay is committed to supporting climate tech businesses in promoting the part they play in creating a sustainable future, so we’re looking forward to making new connections at the London Climate Technology Show. Hope to see you there!
If you want to share your climate tech story with the world, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.