Achieving AI and Machine Learning to accelerate the energy transition

A successful and timely energy transition needs Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI\ML ) to accelerate change. 
The transition to sustainable construction could well be at the forefront of such a transition.  

Achieving AI and Machine Learning to accelerate the energy transition

Reducing costs, enabling more performant (new) energy businesses and the complex coordination of multiple energy players are crucial in this transformation. However we’re still in the early stages of AI\ML, how can we achieve AI\ML rapid adoption at scale?

Why there is no energy transition without Intelligence Intensity

For the green deal to succeed, we need to start moving towards a whole system approach, interconnecting sectors from diverse energy carriers to industries, transport, and buildings, driving Power-to-X, industrial clusters, industrial smart steering, 24 by 7 green energy matching, hybrid energy parks, and new low-carbon energy value chains leading to billions of networked “things”. Flexible yet complex coordination is required that is close to real-time and optimised for multiple, varying stakeholder interests – impossible to be done by humans.

The key role AI/ML plays in reducing the gigantic investments required for the energy transition can lower the levelised costs of energy, accelerate the issuing of permits and grid connections, and optimise yield, thus speeding up the deployment of the massive renewable generation required. Grid capacity can be expanded digitally, avoiding traditional grid reinforcements that are expensive and time-consuming to build. AI\ML also enables flexibility services coordination for maximum DERs value and infrastructure usage.

Microsoft is fully committed to a rapid AI\ML adoption at scale which is already evolving into a technical reality with higher use than anticipated. Partnerships and co-innovation with clients and partners and the wider ecosystem accelerate the creation of missing digital solutions and the development of digital accelerators for wider, faster, and simpler adoption of digital.

Accelerating AI\ML innovation through open data platforms, open ecosystems, open-source

AI\ML needs a lot of data! Strengthened open energy data platforms give innovators in the ecosystem access in a safe, scalable and performant way to vast volumes of quality data essential to train AI models. Microsoft joined OSDU (Open Subsurface Data Universe) to create an open-source, cloud-agnostic platform to collect subsurface data from O&G operations valuable to O&G but also to renewable offshore players.

Energy Datahubs in Europe also play a vital role in driving innovation. This is why Microsoft and Energinet partnered to co-create the open-source Green Energy Hub blueprints on GitHub for experts to contribute and for others to develop their own data hubs, creating an accelerator for the future smart green solutions.

With AI still in its early stages, it is key to inspire energy players of its successful, tangible impact and to facilitate access to solutions. Microsoft launched the Open AI Energy Initiative (OAI), an open ecosystem for operators, independent software vendors, and equipment providers to offer additional solutions, and the global AI Centre of Excellence for Energy called Microsoft Energy Core features over 40 partner solutions.

The driving co-innovation force of strategic partnerships with energy leaders

Strategic partnerships with market makers enables the acceleration of transformation but also to co-invest deeper and wider in the creation of leading-edge digital solutions for current operations and for the complex chain orchestration needed for a successful energy transition. Foundational research for AI in energy and energy-specific platform-based capabilities are not only developed faster.

These intelligence-intense, leading-edge lighthouse use cases inform the industry for fast followers and create digital optimism for speed. Together we become a driving force for the formation of new value chains, ecosystems, and business models that accelerate meeting the goals of the green agenda.

Utilities specific digital accelerators for wider, faster, and simpler adoption

Energy players want more pre-built capabilities specific to utilities for faster time to market AI\ML models. The 15 years of enhanced utilities-specific industry data models acquired from ADRM exemplify the current enrichment with automation of data ingestion from multiple sources, addressing a major hurdle on data.

Another example is the common domain-specific ontologies that are fundamental to accelerating the development of digital twin solutions. Microsoft, together with Agder Energi, launched the open-source Energy Grid Ontology to be added by others for smart cities and smart buildings.

More broadly, the road ahead is for industry clouds. Energy players can focus much higher in the technology stack at the business applications layer, thus shortening innovation cycles, getting faster into the predictive era, and simplifying adoption.

Through co-investment, Microsoft is accelerating the development of energy-specific platform-based capabilities allowing energy players to focus their AI efforts at the business applications level such as for portfolio optimisation, risk management, and also trading.

WATCH: Why AI is key in solving complex energy transition challenges

Learn more about Microsoft

The above-featured image is of Shell on the very subject of Energy Transition through AI, etc.

Russia’s war will hasten the
drive for clean energy security


But what’s in it for those countries of the MENA region? We’ll have to hang on some time to see the impacts on their grains imports. After over a Century of Burning Fossil Fuels, this drive towards clean energy seems perhaps overdue. Meanwhile let’s see The Interpreter‘s :

Russia’s war will hasten the drive for clean energy security


Wind and solar is not only zero-emissions – it’s local. And that will cut Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil.

Russia is a huge producer and exporter of fossil fuels, especially oil and gas. By waging war on Ukraine and all this brings with it for geopolitics, its energy trade will change. It will be a short-term boost to other energy exporters, but the bigger effect will be a fundamental re-think on energy security which will accelerate decarbonisation.

Russian gas supplies to Europe will fall, more immediately as a result of trade sanctions and Russian countermeasures, and over the longer term because European countries will no longer want to be hostage to Russian energy supplies. The new Nordstream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany is dead in the water for now. Russia could gradually supply more gas to China and some other markets, but most of its gas is transported in pipelines not on tankers so it is not easy to change destinations. It’s a similar story for much of Russia’s oil exports.

For other gas and oil producers this is good news. Oil prices have already jumped up as they usually do in times of crisis. Prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) are on the rise too, as are coal prices. Exporters with spare capacity will fill the gaps left by Russia, to the extent of spare capacity in Europe’s LNG import terminals.

The way Russia acts now is triggering a fast and fundamental re-think of European energy strategy.

Australia’s gas export facilities operate near full capacity so don’t expect greater exports. The higher prices are an incentive to invest in extra supply capacity but this is not straightforward, and building or expanding LNG processing plants takes a long time. The main effect for now will be higher prices benefitting gas companies and hurting domestic consumers.

Some big changes however are afoot in energy importing countries, and they go against fossil fuels. Western Europe’s energy system depends heavily on gas and oil imports. More than half of Germany’s gas supply is from Russia.

This has been a strategic vulnerability for a long time, while European governments and industry by and large choose to hope for the best and trust Russia. The way Russia acts now is triggering a fast and fundamental re-think of European energy strategy.

Europe will be in a hurry to stop its reliance on Russian gas. In Germany for example, the need to supply gas for heating next winter will drive change fast. European heavy industry also relies heavily on imported gas. Europe will expand gas import infrastructure to be able to land more LNG, wherever it may come from. In some countries, coal power plants will be running harder or kept running longer before planned closure, to save gas. A similar consideration goes for nuclear power though little can be done short term.

Germany’s conservative pro-business finance minister spelt it out in a special weekend parliamentary session on Ukraine and Russia: “Renewable energy resolves dependencies. Renewable energy is freedom energy.”

Europe will be in a hurry to stop its reliance on Russian gas (Marijan Murat via Getty Images)

The big and lasting effect will be to greatly accelerate investment in renewable energy, with much more solar power and wind power both on land and offshore. Seaborne imports of fuels based on clean hydrogen are also likely to play a role, with Australia a potential supplier. Previous crises that affected oil supply (other than the 1970s oil crisis) did not have a huge effect, but this one is about gas, and the clean energy alternatives are now affordable. Europe’s heating systems are slated to be converted to electric heat pumps, and this will make efficient electric heating cheaper everywhere, driving uptake globally in future.

The fact that it has zero emissions has usually been seen as the main advantage of renewable energy. From here on, energy importing countries will also place great value on the fact that renewable energy is local energy. A zero-emissions energy system in most countries is by and large a domestic energy system. It is safe when geopolitics fray, an aspect that many now feel is worth paying a premium for.

European governments and industry will push aggressively on investments for clean energy independence. Japan, South Korea and other large fossil fuel importers may feel similarly.  By waging war on its neighbour and confronting the West, Russia will hollow out its own position as an energy exporter.

Russia’s war will therefore accelerate the global shift to clean energy. After an initial rebound in coal and diversification of gas trade, it will drive decarbonisation in electricity supply and in industry. In countries that have already subscribed to energy transition in the name of climate action, things will happen even faster. It will also extend to displacing oil imports by accelerating the electric vehicle revolution. Why be beholden to energy imports when you can run your transport system largely on electricity produced cleanly at home?

It means massive investments. They will underpin a new energy system that will be very low in emissions and very resilient against external threats. It won’t necessarily be the cheapest way to supply energy right now, but spending is not the constraint when nations are faced with what looks like near existential problems. “In the end it is only money … when the situation demands it, the necessary funds will be made available”, said Robert Habeck, Germany’s deputy Chancellor and Minister for Economy and Climate Protection.

In future, it could be that the global climate change problem will be seen that way. In the meantime, the horror of Russia’s war on Ukraine, among all the suffering and economic waste that it will bring, will promote the shift to cleaner energy. It will be painful but effective.