Artificial Intelligence will change the way many industries create and deliver their products and services in the future, and energy provision is one of them.
A new study from consultancy Roland Berger predicts that AI can reap efficiency gains of a fifth in utilities within five years, yet less than a quarter of industry respondents said their company had a plan to harness the technology.
Picture the future of energy provision: smart homes to match your smartphones and smart (automated) cars. Wireless washing machines and home heating will learn adapt to what consumers want, optimising energy use and reducing waste. Your home will do the dishes and wash clothes at night to take advantage of lower market prices. At power plants, self-regulating, repairing, and optimising turbines will utilise AI to enhance performance, reduce wear and tear, and lower emissions. Smart grids will be able to control supply and demand by monitoring power consumed in real time. AI will take on tasks in utilities and learn to do them more efficiently. And indeed, these technologies are already being piloted by first movers in a cautious industry.
The utilities sector is currently undergoing a shift from a stable, reliable, and regulation-shaped environment to a tech-driven, volatile one. Firms have to adapt to a new landscape of renewable energy and falling wholesale electricity prices in Europe. And with the emergence of wind and solar – which have intermittent supply – and new carbon emissions targets, firms need to be better able to balance volatile supply and demand. A recent study from Roland Berger remarks that analysing and responding quickly to real time data on energy supply and demand will be crucial to the survival of utility firms – and AI will be doing the heavy lifting.
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