Call for action: using UK’s AI expertise in the energy sector can help reduce carbon and open markets, say representatives


Government should support the UK’s new artifical intelligence (AI) industry as a growth industry for the UK and an opportunity to switch to low-carbon energy, by setting up an International Centre for AI, Energy and Cimate, and removing barriers for its use in the energy sector.

The recommendation came in a letter to ministers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Efficiency from TechUK, E3G and the Aldersgate group, along with companies, universities and other organisations in the sector. It said that AI can help reduce global emissions by up to 4% against business as usual by 2030, and increase global GDP by 4.4%. As well as managing and optimising existing energy systems, AI also offers opportunities to allow for more fundamental shifts to new system designs.

The group says the UK is an AI leader, with one of the strongest and largest communities of machine learning talent globally. But it warns that to maintain its lead, the UK must turn general AI support into joined-up sector-specific propositions.

On energy, the letter says, “the regulated nature of energy systems creates barriers to the application of AI. Data sharing models and market structures developed for an analogue system need updating. Overcoming these challenges could unlock the potential for AI to systemically improve the efficiency of energy systems worldwide and help address wider climate challenges.”

To help the new centre address these challenges and open up new markets for UK-based businesses government should provide bespoke innovation funding to accelerate deployment and to support and develop the nascent ecosystem of start-ups in this space. “Whilst private companies will develop the solutions we need in this sector, governments need to lead to ensure that AI-friendly policy frameworks and funding are designed for the public good, taking into account any social implications of the adoption of AI technology,” they said.

Read the letter in full