Energy leaders urge government to back international AI climate centre

Leading voices from across the energy sector have this week called for the government to support the creation of an International Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Energy and Climate.

Recent PwC research found that AI could help reduce global emissions by up to 4% by 2030

Recent PwC research found that AI could help reduce global emissions by up to 4% by 2030

Such a centre, which is being developed in collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute and the Energy Systems Catapult, would help manage the transition from a centralised and fossil fuel dominated system to a decarbonised and decentralised one.

It would "advise governments on AI-friendly policy frameworks and data access, facilitate the involvement of the machine learning community in the sector, provide bespoke innovation funding to accelerate deployment and support and develop the nascent ecosystem of start-ups in this space".

Last week the government announced a £250m investment into an AI lab for the health service and it is hoped a similar scheme can be secured to help the decarbonisation of the energy system.

A letter addressed to new business secretary Andrea Leadsom says “bold and urgent action” is needed from governments around the world to achieve the Paris Agreement objective of keeping the average global temperature from rising above 1.5C. 

The signatories include those of Sam Hollister, director of economics and corporate services at Energy UK, as well as Hayden Wood and Greg Jackson, chief executives of mid-tier suppliers Bulb and Octopus Energy respectively.

Specifically, the letter says: “To address these challenges and concurrently open up new markets for UK-based businesses, we are proposing the UK support an International Centre for AI, Energy and Climate to advise governments on AI-friendly policy frameworks and data access, to facilitate the involvement of the machine learning community in the sector, to provide bespoke innovation funding to accelerate deployment and to support and develop the nascent ecosystem of start-ups in this space.

“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.”

It cites recent analysis by PwC, which suggests AI can help reduce global emissions by up to 4% against business as usual by 2030, whilst concurrently supporting an increase to global GDP of 4.4%.

Speaking to Utility Week former Npower boss and current chief executive of Electron Paul Massara, one of the letters’ signatories, said the project has been in the pipeline for the past four months.

Massara also said a number of the UK’s top universities including Oxford and Cambridge, had endorsed the plan.

Utility Week has contacted BEIS for a response to the proposals. 

Adam John

This article first appeared on edie's sister title, Utility Week



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