AI seen as key in net zero ambitions – but what of the risks?

The potential for the use of artificial intelligence is significant and, in the UK, plans have been announced to turn its power to the fight against climate change.

The UK government has said it is to engage with innovators at the cutting edge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and will back their tech to cut carbon emissions across key sectors in a bid to help make the best use of renewables and increase efficiency.

The funding is part of the government’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme, which supports the development of AI technologies in the UK’s transition to net zero. The programme forms part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and further cements the UK’s position at the forefront of AI and decarbonisation.

Indeed the minister for affordability and skills, Amanda Solloway said: “The UK continues to push the boundaries in how advanced AI can help tackle some of the most important challenges facing our nation.

“These projects will use our world-leading research and scientific expertise to enhance our renewables sector and boost our energy efficiency through the use of AI in the transport, land use, and electricity space.

“Cutting edge innovation like this will help ensure our energy security for decades to come and create hundreds of jobs in the process.”

Projects have been chosen and range from improving weather forecasting for solar energy production, to helping consumers and businesses improve their energy efficiency and cut energy costs through AI-optimised energy efficiency software.

UK AI minister Viscount Camrose explained the use of AI had the potential to make significant advances in the UK path to net zero.

“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,” he said. “This funding backs brilliant British innovation to drive forward new AI solutions which will help us reach our net zero ambitions.

“Our wider £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio cements our position as a leader in the fight against climate change, and I’m delighted to see the UK continuing to tap into emerging technologies to ensure a greener future for all.”

Professor Adam Sobey, programme director of Data Centric Engineering at The Alan Turing Institute, added: “AI has an important role to play in helping us understand our transport systems, energy infrastructure, farms and buildings. These projects will allow the UK to reduce emissions from operations and embedded carbon in production, helping the nation meet challenging climate change targets. We look forward to working with these innovative new projects through the AI for Decarbonisation Virtual innovation Centre of Excellence.”

The positivity from the government is to be applauded and if the experts are to be believe the AI initiatives have the potential to play a real role in the fight against climate change.

However, just two months ago the UK was warning of the threat of AI amid fears it may well create mor problems than it solves. You have to hope the risks have been assessed before the funding was agreed.

Jon Guy, 

Editor, EmergingRisks