Urge to support the International Centre for AI, Energy and Climate

22 August 2019

Leading trade bodies, energy leaders and green campaigners have joined forces to urge the government to support new Artificial Intelligence focused research centre.

Tiffany Hionas

Energy leaders are pressuring the government to back the development of an International Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Energy and Climate, which has immense potential to change and create value for industries who are working with automation and digitalisation. With the developments achieved over the last decade, AI will be a useful tool to improve the efficiency of energy systems and address the challenges of climate change. This centre would support and guide the government on AI-friendly policy frameworks, data access, and guide businesses on the next steps needed to become fluent in a digital environment, providing innovation funding to accelerate deployment and help start-ups navigate this space.

Realising the potential for AI to support the zero-carbon transition, energy leaders are hopeful that the government will be on board to invest in this centre to support the transition of a fossil fuel dominated system to a decarbonised one. The urgency to keep the average global temperature from rising above 1.5C – a crucial objective of the Paris climate deal means revolutionising the energy system; the urgency for this intervention has been highlighted in a letter directed to the government, addressing the ‘bold and urgent’ action required to invest in such a centre, which can ultimately be used to tackle an array of challenges.

Signatories of this letter addressed to the government include those of Sam Hollister, Director of Economics and Corporate services at Energy UK, Hayden Wood and Greg Jackson, Chief Executives of Bulb and Octopus Energy. As well as receiving backing from leading voices in the energy sector, leading universities including Cambridge and Oxford have also supported the proposals.

Whilst private companies will be developing the solutions and implementing them into the sector, the government will need to ensure businesses are reshaping their models, and to consider any social implications, including the training and reskilling which is a key enabler to digitalization.

Recent analysis conducted by PwC has revealed that AI can be a key component in our battle against climate change. Implementing AI across industries can reduce global emissions by up to 4% by 2030, and simultaneously ensures an increase to the global GDP of 4.4%.

The creation of an International Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Energy and Climate is an opportunity to support smaller manufacturers and SME’s who might face challenges in this space. This centre would not only advise the government on AI-friendly policy frameworks, but also help develop the nascent ecosystem of these type of companies, equipping them with the opportunity to reskill and accelerate through potential innovation funding.

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