UK awards AI projects £1.73m to help decarbonise energy and transport

Article by Amanda Jasi

ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) projects that could help optimise renewables and increase industrial energy efficiency have received a £1.73m (US$2.18m) boost from the UK government.

Split into three pots, the funding will support development and scaleup of AI to address decarbonisation challenges in electricity, transport, and renewables.

Winners focussed on generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity include Cardiff-based Optimise AI. The company combines building information modelling and digital twins with building data, using its findings to optimise energy use and reduce emissions. It will use the £125,100 of awarded government funding to develop an AI system that will use data gathered from internet of things sensors to actively manage energy use in buildings.

Meanwhile, the UK’s University of Nottingham has received £263,378 to improve weather forecasting to manage renewables for the electricity grid. The technology will use ground-based cameras and satellite images to analyse cloud cover and movement, and forecast solar energy production.

EDF Energy R&D UK is among those awarded funding to optimise and identify land use for renewables generation. It is receiving £23,586 to use AI to determine how best to position wind turbines to reduce the space requirements for offshore windfarms without reducing energy output.

The sole recipient of funding to optimise energy use in decarbonised transportation is Flexible Power Systems in Kent. The company will use £209,360 to support work that will use AI to optimise electric vehicle fleet operations and charging schedules. By analysing traffic and charger locations, AI technology could help cut transport emissions and minimise costs.

Viscount Camrose, minister for AI and intellectual property, said: “AI is the defining technology of our generation, and the UK is harnessing its enormous potential to improve public services, ramp up productivity, and tackle shared global challenges, particularly climate change. This funding backs brilliant British innovation to drive forward new AI solutions which will help us reach our net zero ambitions.”

The funding is part of the government’s Artificial Intelligence for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme, which is supporting the development of AI technologies in the UK’s transition to net zero. It is the third and final stream of funding in a programme launched in November 2022.

Streams 1 and 2 closed last January.

Stream 2 funding was awarded to eight projects, each winning a share of £1m to support the development of AI approaches to help drive decarbonisation in industry, power, and agriculture. Stream 1 awarded £500,000 to set up the UK’s Artificial Intelligence for Decarbonisation’s Virtual Centre of Excellence (ADViCE). The centre aims to understand and address barriers that prevent companies from using AI to decarbonise. This includes bringing together AI developers, investors, local government, and academics.

The Artificial Intelligence for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme forms part of the UK’s £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, aimed at accelerating commercialisation of low-carbon technologies, systems, and business models for industry, power, and buildings.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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