26/03/2019 14:00:00

AI Saving Money and Promoting Efficiency in Energy Sector

POINT ROBERTS, Wash. and VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Investorideas.com, a global investor news source covering Artificial Intelligence issues a special edition of The AI Eye, looking at how AI will play a significant role in clean energy and energy efficiency.

As clean and efficient energy becomes increasingly important to consumers from ongoing environmental concerns, and in the interest of affordability, more and more companies look to employ AI and machine learning technology to keep abreast with demand.

Veteran multinational General Electric (NYSE:GE), through its utility analytics digital energy solutions combines AI with state-of-the-art machine learning capabilities to “deliver predictive and prescriptive insights.” In an article on Utility Dive on data analytics in the power sector, GE Power Digital Senior Director of Data and Analytics, Matt Schnugg said: "Data is a linchpin of our collective energy future.”

“Data analytics is already improving utilities' asset performance and is beginning to improve customer engagement. But the automated and integrated system that will enable peak performance, energy networks, and connected communities are still to come. The next step is "enabling advanced analytics" and incorporating it into AI processing "at hyperscale," GE's Schnugg said.

Another way AI technology is being leveraged is in the streamlining of alternative sources of energy, such as wind. Analytics India quotes Google DeepMind researchers in a recent article, on how they have increased efficiency through machine learning:

“Although we continue to refine our algorithm, our use of machine learning across our wind farms has produced positive results. To date, machine learning has boosted the value of our wind energy by roughly 20 percent, compared to the baseline scenario of no time-based commitments to the grid.”

Similar innovation can be seen by Universal mCloud Corp., (TSXV:MCLD) (OTCQB:MCLDF) which was recently named as one of TSX Venture Exchange’s top performing startups in the technology sector. The company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ecotricity affiliate Britwind Ltd. which will see Universal mCloud upgrade the latter’s wind turbines with AI and analytics. Called rEsolve, the upgrade enhances the operation of Britwind’s 1,000 Endurance E-series turbines alongside a 5-year warranty. mCloud’s Chief Growth Officer, Costantino Lanza commented:

“mCloud’s expertise in AI and analytics for wind applications complements Britwind’s strengths in the manufacturing and maintenance of wind turbines,” said Costantino Lanza, mCloud’s Chief Growth Officer, who is also leading mCloud’s activities in the Smart Wind segment. “Our AssetCare™ for Wind solution will connect Britwind turbines to help their customers achieve peak performance.”

But it’s not only wind energy that is benefiting from the application of AI capabilities. A report from Research and Markets projects that the solar power market in the Americas, for instance, is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.2 percent between 2018-2022 in terms of total installed capacity in select countries. A piece from nanalyze looking at AI in renewable energy highlights SunPower Corporation (NasdaqGS:SPWR), and how it is leveraging AI and other technologies:

“The Silicon Valley-based company recently built a new solar research facility. One of the key tools at the new $25 million facility involves quality control over the photovoltaic cell manufacturing process. AI is used to analyze the process to not only ensure a quality product, but to provide new insights to improve the technology over time. Incidentally, SunPower is embracing all kinds of emerging technology, including the use of drones to survey potential solar power farm sites in order to create more efficient designs. No doubt engineers will employ machine learning there as well, maybe through HST Solar or just buy the startup outright.”

Elsewhere, Constellation, an Exelon Corporation (NYSE:EXC) employs third-party Pear.ai’s “virtual energy agent”, Sam, to converse with customers, allowing them to ask questions and gain insights regarding energy costs. Chris Buzby, Senior Manager of Corporate Strategy, Innovation, and Sustainability at Exelon wrote in a Constellation blog post earlier this year:

“Constellation is looking at AI to decrease our customers’ energy costs and to optimize the many tasks they perform on a regular basis. As we think about the cost for our customers, it is easy to just think about the price per kilowatt-hour, but we know our customers think about more than just that number. They are interested in ways to be more efficient or to decrease capacity costs and other energy-related costs.”

Though surely still in the earliest stages of adoption, AI can already be seen to have made gains for both wind and solar energy markets with data analytics, as well as on the consumer-end, helping to both reduce costs and promote greater energy efficiency.

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