World Economic Forum said AI can act as an intelligent layer across many applications and has advanced a set of principles for the energy industry to deploy the technology in a safe and trustworthy way.
Digital technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) in particular have tremendous potential to deliver the energy sector’s climate goals more rapidly and at lower cost, according to a new study.
As the impacts of climate change become more visible worldwide, governments and industry face the urgent challenge of transitioning to a low-carbon global energy system.
The World Economic Forum’s report highlights the technologies’ potential to support the energy transition and advances a set of principles for the energy industry to deploy AI in a “safe, fair, and trustworthy way”.
Produced in collaboration with BloombergNEF (BNEF) and German energy agency Deutsche Energie-Agentur (Dena), Harnessing AI to accelerate the energy transition reviews the state of play of AI adoption in the energy sector. It also identifies high-priority applications of AI in the energy transition and offers a road map and practical recommendations for the energy and AI industries to maximise AI’s benefits.
“In energy, we are only seeing the beginning of what AI can do to speed up the transition to the low-emissions, ultra-efficient and interconnected energy systems we need tomorrow”
The report finds that AI has the potential to create substantial value for the global energy transition. Based on BNEF’s net-zero scenario modelling, every one per cent of additional efficiency in demand creates $1.3 trillion in value between 2020 and 2050 due to reduced investment needs. AI could achieve this by enabling greater energy efficiency and flexing demand.
“AI is already making its mark on many parts of society and the economy. In energy, we are only seeing the beginning of what AI can do to speed up the transition to the low-emissions, ultra-efficient and interconnected energy systems we need tomorrow,” said Roberto Bocca, head of energy, World Economic Forum.
“This report shows the potential and what it will take to unlock it – guided by principles that span how to govern, design and enable responsible use of AI in energy. Governments and companies can collectively create a real tipping point in using AI for a faster energy transition.”
High priority applications for how AI can accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy future include:
AI holds far greater potential to accelerate the global energy transition but WEF cautions it will only be realised if there is greater AI innovation, adoption and collaboration across the industry.
The nine principles cited in the report aim to build industry trust in AI technologies so that they can play a greater role in the energy transition. The report notes that as AI tools are increasingly adopted across energy and energy-intensive sectors, companies and policymakers must play an active role in governing and shaping the use of AI in the energy sector, establishing best practices for designing AI systems in a responsible way, and creating an enabling environment to unlock the full potential of AI technologies.
“These principles should ideally create a framework that enables multiple stakeholder groups to work together effectively on a pre-defined set of activities from governance to design, to enabling infrastructure,” added Jon Moore, chief executive officer, BloombergNEF.
“They will enable us to move past the many ‘proofs of concept’ projects towards successful large-scale implementation of solutions.”