Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a bit of a buzzword. From “machine learning” in the latest iPhones to Facebook chat bots that created their own language, AI has entered the mainstream consciousness and applications continue to grow. Just what is AI, and what potential impact could it have on the fields of energy and sustainability?
AI today is not about replicating the human mind inside a computer. Instead it's the ability of a machine to sense, understand, use logic and change over time. I.e., the ability to take data and then form a human interaction or decision. In the medical field, for example, AI is being used to look at different types from tests to deliver a diagnosis1. In the shipping industry, AI-controlled logistics can look at patterns in supply chain and create greater efficiencies2.
AI also has an opportunity to change the way that companies manage and consume energy. AI technology that can process data quickly and efficiently, combined with technologies like blockchain and distributed energy resources, will allow both grid operators and consumers the ability to effectively manage energy in an increasingly decentralized landscape.
Companies collect large amounts of data that can be used to maximize efficiencies, but understanding and applying the information can be difficult. This data can be analyzed by AI, however, to proactively identify consumption trends, see where changes need to be made and automatically fine-tune system to ensure optimum efficiency. Being able to instantly react to demand response opportunities or request maintenance without human involvement will dramatically optimize energy use. The days of an energy manager having to scroll through automated alerts to identify necessary actions could be limited.
AI will help companies drive corporate sustainably. One example is processing the value of energy attribute certificates, such as renewable energy credits, to help companies decide when is the best time to purchase. For those companies with onsite renewables generation, predictive analytics can look at weather patterns such as wind and sunlight to help determine peak times for generation. In addition, AI can ensure distributed energy storage systems or batteries are used effectively — charging and drawing stored electricity in an optimal way.
AI can help companies decide how to best purchase energy by studying complex market trends and dissecting data to create plans to better manage spend and reduce risk in a volatile market. This technology can also look at how and when companies consume energy, and identify the right power source to meet peak demand, base load and all points in between.
The world is becoming more connected. Technologies like AI can be leveraged to help businesses gain a competitive edge. By connecting devices to computers that can spot trends, analyze data and adapt, companies will begin to see greater efficiency, cleaner energy and more savings.
2. https://www.joc.com/international-logistics/logistics-technology/artificial-intelligence-promises-smarter-containerized-supply-chains_20170620.html and https://knect365.com/talentandtraining/article/1149354e-68d9-4e74-9f91-a900ac869526/6-maritime-startups-that-are-changing-the-game