Home » Govt looks to AI innovation to deliver green boost

Govt looks to AI innovation to deliver green boost

by Mark Cantrell
If the built environment industry is to deliver on its net zero promise, there must be open access and sharing of decarbonisation data.

The government is betting £1.73m on cutting edge AI technology to deliver greater energy efficiency and reduce the carbon emissions of key segments of the UK economy.

Eight projects are to receive a share of the funding pot to develop and scale up AI technology that is expected to support the UK’s green transition.

The projects range from improving weather forecasting for solar energy production, to helping consumers and businesses improve their energy efficiency and cut energy costs through AI-optimised energy efficiency software.

Announced by the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ), the funding is part of the government’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme, which supports the development of AI technologies in the UK’s transition to net zero.

The programme forms part of the government’s £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.

Amanda Solloway, minister for affordability and skills, said: “The UK continues to push the boundaries in how advanced AI can help tackle some of the most important challenges facing our nation.

“These projects will use our world-leading research and scientific expertise to enhance our renewables sector and boost our energy efficiency through the use of AI in the transport, land use, and electricity space.

“Cutting edge innovation like this will help ensure our energy security for decades to come and create hundreds of jobs in the process.”

Minister for AI, Viscount Camrose added: “AI is the defining technology of our generation and the UK is harnessing its enormous potential to improve public services, ramp up productivity and tackle shared global challenges, particularly climate change. This funding backs brilliant British innovation to drive forward new AI solutions which will help us reach our net zero ambitions.

“Our wider £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio cements our position as a leader in the fight against climate change, and I’m delighted to see the UK continuing to tap into emerging technologies to ensure a greener future for all.”

The funding is split across different pots to address decarbonisation challenges in three sectors: The generation, demand, transmission, and distribution of electricity; transport decarbonisation; land use for renewables energy generation.

Addressing barriers

This latest cash follows previous funding provided through the scheme, including £1m awarded to eight winners, and £500,000 awarded last year to set up the UK’s Artificial Intelligence for Decarbonisation’s Virtual Centre for Excellence (ADViCE).

ADViCE aims to understand and address barriers that prevent companies from using AI to decarbonise, bringing together AI developers, investors, local government, and academics.

Dr David Pugh, director of sustainable industry at Digital Catapult, said: “Energy and transportation are just two major areas of UK industry where AI can be leveraged to simultaneously create operational efficiencies and drive decarbonisation efforts.

“The AI for Decarbonisation Virtual Centre of Excellence, delivered by Digital Catapult, Energy Systems Catapult, and the Alan Turing Institute, is playing an important role in driving forward innovation-led collaborations between the technology community and some of our most carbon intensive industries to solve pressing sustainability challenges.

“[T]he newly announced Stream 3 projects will show how innovative approaches using AI can have a profound and positive effect on key parts of the UK economy.”

Professor Adam Sobey, programme director of data-centric engineering at The Alan Turing Institute, said: “AI has an important role to play in helping us understand our transport systems, energy infrastructure, farms and buildings.

“These projects will allow the UK to reduce emissions from operations and embedded carbon in production, helping the nation meet challenging climate change targets. We look forward to working with these innovative new projects through the AI for Decarbonisation Virtual innovation Centre of Excellence.”

Winning projects

AI to accelerate decarbonisation across generation, demand, transmission, and distribution of electricity

  • University of Nottingham isreceiving £263,378 to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting for solar energy, and help manage renewables for the electricity grid. The project will use a combination of ground-based cameras and satellite images to analyse cloud cover and movement, to forecast solar energy production
  • Clio Ventures in London is receiving £133,368 to use AI to help financial institutions identify and validate key projects eligible for green finance funding
  • Carbon Laces Solutions Ltd in London is receiving £342,999 to develop a smart technology that ‘learns’ and adjusts how electricity is used at homes, to improve grid efficiency, and help users reduce their energy costs
  • Optimise-AI in Cardiff is receiving £125,100 to help businesses and industry use AI to optimise energy efficiency in their buildings through the development of a system that optimises energy usage by calibrating it with Internet of Things sensor readings

AI to optimise energy use in decarbonised transportation

  • Flexible Power Systems Ltd in Kent is receiving £209,360 to use AI to optimise electric fleet operations and charging schedules, based on analysing traffic and the locations of chargers. This will help minimise costs and cut transport emissions

AI to optimise and identify land use for renewables generation

  • EDF Energy R&D UK Centre Ltd in London is receiving £23,586 to use AI to determine how to position wind turbines to reduce the space needed for an offshore windfarm without reducing its energy output. The AI technology will look at wind flow interaction between wind turbines and assess where and how to position turbines in relation to each other
  • OnGen Ltd in Edinburgh is receiving £326,371 to build AI software to recommend what low-carbon technologies could be used for buildings, to help consumers improve their energy efficiency and reduce bills
  • Open Power in London is receiving £313,700 to develop an AI system that will streamline selling electricity back to the grid, improving the efficiency of the process and enabling a faster rate of return

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