Podcast: How is AI answering the call for greater sustainability?

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Image of forest which can be preserved using AI for greater sustainability

As more data emerges about the potential fate of our planet, it’s increasingly obvious we need new solutions to the climate change crisis. How is AI facilitating more sustainability measures?

As governments and organisations all over the world look for new ways to make operations more sustainable, AI could be an opportunity for reducing inefficiency, identifying new ways of generating power and connecting users to the energy grid in ways never before possible.

Hege Skryseth, Kongsberg’s Chief Digital Officer, Shell’s Dan Jeavons and Junta Nakai, VP of Sustainability and Financial Services at Databricks, joined us to discuss the innovations set to transform the energy landscape.

Transforming our environmental impact today

“AI is one of the core technologies that will have an impact on sustainability and in particular on carbon dioxide levels,” said Dan. He went on to elaborate that this is down to the “two applications of AI … the first that the energy system of today requires optimisation to minimise the amount of carbon dioxide emitted. There’s a huge opportunity to leverage AI in that space.”

Dan discussed how AI can be used to track and predict emissions from processes, to help businesses and governments assess how they can cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide gas released into the atmosphere.

Hege expanded on this, saying that AI is the perfect solution for creating a system that delivers information in real time to industry leaders. She added that AI can help to generate potential responses to this data, “you need transparency, you need good insight, you need to be able to transform insight into actions, and then automate actions as much as possible.” This helps those in power make informed decisions about leading long-term transformation.

Energy grid - which can deploy AI for greater sustainabilityImage: mr. teerapon tiuekhom/Shutterstock

Building an effective energy system for tomorrow

Junta said that sustainability as a concept was developed with long-term change in mind, “it’s thinking about not just about the next quarter, but the next quarter century.” Over this span of time, society needs to turn to using alternative energy sources to power our technology. We also need to address inefficiencies and waste in our existing grid systems to reduce losses.

But without the right data-driven approach to transforming our energy system, any attempts are likely going to be ineffective. Junta summed this up as “sustainability exists in the first place to do good. Without data and AI, it’s hard to know if you’re actually doing good.”

This is a point Dan agreed with, saying “there are no silver bullets. It’s not an easy problem … to transform a complex energy system.” But, when referencing his earlier point about the applications of AI in improving sustainability, Dan said “as we anticipate and design the future energy system … which will be more diverse, more distributed, more complex than before … AI will have a big role to play.”

Check out the newest episode of 🎙️ The Next Stage 🎙️ podcast. If this episode filled you with inspiration, don’t miss Web Summit this November. You can still get half-price tickets if you sign up before May 19!

Main image of dense forest: zlikovec/Shutterstock

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