Is Artificial Intelligence the future of Renewable Energy?
With net zero targets fast approaching and a global energy crisis unfolding by the day, the transition away from fossil fuels has never been so critical. As a result, there is greater pressure than ever before on the renewable energy industry to transform practices for maximised efficiency – and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence are helping them on their way.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
AI refers to the science and engineering of making intelligent, human like machines. Specialised computer systems and robust datasets are combined to enable the problem solving and decision-making capabilities of a human mind. AI uses algorithms to collect and parse data, learn from it, and make predictions for the future.
How is it advancing the renewable energy industry?
The reflective and predictive capabilities of AI are invaluable to renewable energy. A significant benefit of AI in renewable energy is the ability to collect real world data – including historic weather and energy demand patterns so that organisations can make well-informed decisions about future energy needs. Here are some of the ways that AI is transforming the future of renewable energy.
Stabilising Electric Grids
There is a worry that replacing the energy distributed by national grids with renewable sources could make them unreliable and prone to blackouts. Electric grids run from a baseload of energy provided by heavy rotating equipment such as gas and steam turbines which provide a stable source of energy. As renewable energy production is variable – as a result of fluctuating weather conditions – concerns about the consistency of renewable energy input have led to resistance to transitioning. This is where AI can help.
AI programs combine ‘self-learning’ weather models, historical weather datasets and real time local weather information to predict power generation and communicate with grid capacity levels. Therefore, operators and grids can make the necessary modifications to power input and output as a result of the weather data they receive.
Smart grids and smart meters centre around powerful AI technology and are increasingly being adopted across the energy sector. Data is exchanged from smart grids to consumers to help them manage their supply and energy bills, as well as inform the grid on upcoming demand to help optimise energy storage.
The predictive capabilities that AI affords the renewable energy sector doesn’t only benefit when it comes to supply and demand. It is also really useful for the maintenance of infrastructure. AI technologies are able to identify areas of energy leakage as well as examine the health of devices.
For example, AI-powered predictive analysis collects data from wind turbine sensors, monitoring the infrastructure for wear and tear and alerting the operator when maintenance is needed. In addition to this, AI can also help identify patterns from the data collected to anticipate similar failures and performance constraints within the future.
The ability to make accurate weather predictions also comes in handy here too, so that maintenance work can be scheduled. An AI system developed by DeepMind and Google predicts exact wind power production 36 hours before generation allowing good time for operators to schedule wind turbine technicians to attend and perform their maintenance during the machine’s downtime without disrupting power generation.
Intelligent Energy Storage
AI is playing a huge part in maximising efficient energy storage, which in turn is helping to speed up the green energy transition. Combining historical electricity demand and weather data, AI technologies can predict future surges and troughs in demand and ensure that reserves of green energy is consistently available. It also means that commercial and industrial operators are able save and distribute energy more effectively in preparation for upcoming demand.
Renewable energy storage is vital for the carbon neutral future. By harvesting surplus solar energy on days of sunshine, and wind energy on breezier days, the energy can be saved and distributed at times where these natural sources can’t be generated. This is important for the longevity of renewable energy as a consistent, reliable source that will overtake fossil fuels. Traditionally, fossil fuel plants have been used as back-up to provide a steady supply of energy in case of a failure, but by storing energy from carbon neutral resources, fossil fuels can gradually be phased out – and the UK energy system could save up to £40 billion at the same time. Intelligent energy storage, with the help of AI, means that we can be confident with our supplies and plan for a future that is increasingly energy secure.
Renewable energy is the future – join the industry
Advancements are happening every day in the renewable energy industry. It is an important and exciting time to be involved – and you can be too. Our renewable energy recruitment team are specialists in placing candidates in renewable energy jobs in innovative, ground-breaking projects across the world. Search for your next renewable energy job here or reach out to the team today.