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Turn UK into global hub for AI-powered decarbonisation, letter urges

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

AI will be “essential” to managing a decarbonised, decentralised system, according to a letter penned by some of the industry’s leading energy groups.

The letter calls on the government to create an International Centre for AI, Energy and Climate. It has been signed by 27 organisations, including National Grid ESO, Energy UK, OVO Energy, Octopus Energy, the Aldersgate Group, Green Alliance and Verv.

As energy systems worldwide continue to decarbonise and decentralise, there is an increasing need to manage and predict the distributed constituents of the system, such as renewables, EVs and battery storage, the letter says.

AI will be “essential” to managing this system and the data that comes with it, the letter continues, adding that London is “the European capital for AI and acts as a base to 750+ AI companies – double the total of Paris and Berlin combined”.

However, the letter warns that the UK needs to “rapidly” turn general support for AI into “joined-up, sector-specific propositions” if it wants to maintain its position as a leader in AI.

It also points to regulation of energy systems as creating barriers to AI, recommending that data-sharing models and market structures developed for an analogue system are updated.

An International Centre for AI, Energy and Climate would have four main duties:

  • Advise governments on policy frameworks and data access.
  • Facilitate the involvement of the machine learning community in the sector.
  • Provide “bespoke” funding to accelerate deployment and support.
  • Develop the nascent ecosystem of start-ups.

“Whilst private companies will develop the solutions we need in this sector, governments need to lead to ensure that AI-friendly policy frameworks and funding are designed for the public good, taking into account any social implications of the adoption of AI technology,” the letter states.

AI was most recently lauded by National Grid ESO, after a trial using the technology improved the accuracy of its forecasting of solar generation by 33%. Machine learning is gaining traction worldwide, with partnerships such as the memorandum of understanding between Microsoft and Snam for AI and IoT solutions becoming more frequent.

In a separate development in April, a report from PwC found that worldwide AI adoption could add trillions to the global economy.

The letter – as well as a full list of organisations backing the document – can be read here.

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