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AI is taking energy management to the next frontier

Five global energy trends were unveiled at our annual Global Energy Outlook (GEO) webinar, stirring up dialogue on current and next-generation energy transition opportunities. This blog is the first in a series of ‘Q&A roundups’ from the webinar. Did you miss the webinar? Download the on-demand recording here.

Jeff Willert, Director of Data Science, Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Business, weighs in to address the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in advancing sustainability and energy management.

How can AI support Sustainability and what are some use cases?

We believe the confluence of sustainability and AI must be approached holistically. Before thinking about how AI can decarbonize operations, a baseline must be established to understand how energy resources are being used today – and how much the operations impact energy consumption.

Schneider Electric’s solutions feature machine learning algorithms to analyze large data sets and identify patterns to pinpoint how energy is being consumed at sites across the globe. Understanding what drives an organization’s energy use is paramount: is it due to building occupancy, weather, production, and customer visits? When answers to such questions are unlocked, organizations can identify ways to reduce consumption by targeting the root causes. 

Energy Management and Decarbonization: once a baseline is established, AI algorithms can optimize the use of energy to decarbonize operations. For instance, an optimal schedule for heating and cooling can be assessed, minimizing the carbon footprint and costs.  AI can also be used to analyze weather patterns and satellite imagery to determine which sites (or locations for future sites) would be most conducive to installing renewable energy assets. Additionally, microgrids can enhance decarbonization initiatives by drawing power from the grid when it primarily consists of low-carbon sources, and utilizing onsite renewable energy or stored power when the grid's energy is less green. 

Schneider Electric’s Resource Advisor is a cloud-based energy and sustainability platform that manages over 240,000 sites globally, helping clients identify energy consumption patterns at site or meter levels to manage energy efficiency. Recently, we added a conversational AI tool to Resource Advisor (Resource Advisor Copilot) that features GenAI-based Natural Language Processing technology. Through a chat interface, clients can prompt Copilot to retrieve real-time data, perform enhanced analytics and visualization, and access industry knowledge and system information to reduce time to insights on queries such as: What are the total Scope 1 emissions for a particular site over a specific period of time? What do Scope 3 emissions include?

Oftentimes, businesses have many levers for decarbonizing their operations – deciding which lever to pull at what time can be a monumental undertaking. Future versions of Resource Advisor Copilot will have the ability to recommend a decarbonization plan for businesses to reach set emissions goals over a designated period of time, taking into account unique client portfolios, client preferences, and constraints. 

Demand Forecasting: AI can be leveraged to predict energy demand patterns with high accuracy. Schneider Electric’s digital solutions help clients forecast energy demand at a national, regional or site level. In some regions of North America, we send clients pre-emptive alerts when high system peaks are expected and recommend times to limit energy use to curtail energy costs and consumption. Clients can process and analyze large volumes of historical data, including market trends, seasonal patterns, and consumer behavior to identify patterns and correlations. Understanding future demand cycles helps clients minimize costs and carbon emissions, while effectively managing their inventory, production, workforce allocation, and financial planning.

Sustainable Networks: the power of AI transcends energy management requirements by bringing communities of organizations together. Schneider Electric’s Zeigo Network uses AI to provide users with access to educational resources, community connections, and a marketplace for renewable energy and technology solutions.

The Next Frontier

AI technology has only scratched the surface – the opportunities for AI in energy management are limitless. As we look to the future, there will be more and more applications of AI to help clients understand their energy portfolio, streamline energy sourcing, and adopt customized, optimal decarbonization roadmaps to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Want to learn more? Contact us today and let our global experts help guide you to a net-zero future with strategy and technology that drives action and impact.

Related resources

Podcast: AI's Role in the Future of Sustainability Reporting

Building Sustainability’s Digital Future with EcoStruxure™ Resource Advisor Copilot: Schneider Electric’s Latest AI Advancement

How different AI solutions support sustainability

Schneider Electric Issues Industry-First Blueprint for Optimizing Data Centers to Harness the Power of Artificial Intelligence