Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI could bring much needed efficiencies to the energy sector

Artificial intelligence could help us address climate change by making energy networks more efficient and create value across the energy sector of as much as $5.8 trillion, according to a recent report by management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Rachid Majiti, a senior partner at the US-based firm, is quoted by Arab News that AI and digital analytics are being introduced across the energy industry, from oil and gas to renewables like solar and wind.

He said: “It is now, more than ever, cheaper to capture, process and store data, which means you can use much more complex and advanced algorithms to optimize your oil and gas operations, translating into more production output and lower costs.”

AI is already being used by the oil industry in offshore exploration to help them find new and easier to access sources of fossil fuels and to improve oil exploration safety.

However, as energy firms move towards renewable sources to address the climate crisis, AI will play a key role in stabilising the grid. Renewable energy production is inherently intermittent, with solar only available during the day and wind output needing gusts to blow, so technology is needed to maintain stability across the grid, utilising all the renewable sources and storing excess production in massive batteries for later use.

Indeed, Majiti explained that there are significant opportunities for AI as the world turns increasingly to renewables, as AI pattern recognition will be critical for understanding, monitoring, and adjusting output across the grid.

Globally, electricity demand is forecast to double by 2050, and renewable energy could make up nearly 100 per cent of that energy mix if the right tools are developed, AI is used to effectively and efficiently manage supply and demand, and governments around the world find the political will to make the changes required.

Graphic by Sean Batty