Using artificial intelligence to combat climate change

July 27, 2021

Actionable solutions for critical problems.

Beyond Limits' AJ Abdallat

Climate change is real. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already playing a major role in helping to turn this tide.

On April 22, President Biden announced target for the United States to achieve a 50-52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030, building on progress to-date and by positioning American workers and industry to tackle the climate crisis.

Additional benchmarks within the plan included the US creating a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and reaching a net-zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. This announcement is a big deal for both combating the climate crisis and making strides toward recovering from an economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Actionable solutions addressing critical issues

Major industries that are critical to national infrastructure operations are implementing advanced AI solutions to address climate challenges; a few significant examples include:

AI is being utilized in smart grids for intermittent resources such as wind and solar. AI can enhance demand and generation forecasts to improve planning, minimize standby generation and utilize available renewable generation to its fullest extent, reducing waste while safeguarding a consistent supply of power to consumers.

Current forecasting approaches are often inaccurate and unreliable because renewable resources are, by nature, intermittent with variable demand. AI is adept at helping with operate-to-plan objectives, scheduling optimal combinations of renewable and conventional power supplies as necessary. This is because AI can take numerous variables into account, then provide timely recommendations that support changing consumer needs while simultaneously managing opt-in demand-response programs that cut demand during high-load periods using alert systems and/or shutdowns.

AI for field planning is making operations more efficient, helping the energy industry move closer toward accomplishing their net-zero ambitions, increasing productivity, and reducing waste. AI applications such as reinforcement learning frameworks can support initiatives including carbon capture and sequestration, reducing drilling of new wells and transitioning to low-carbon energy sources.

Examples include identifying the best CO2 injection candidates across depleted fields, providing optimal planning for existing fields, minimizing drilling length, and even maximizing sequential planning for novel energy use cases. AI’s diagnostic and prognostic capabilities can also provide 24/7, expert-like oversight into all wells within a portfolio, which mitigates product risk, minimizes downtime, and improves efficiency.

AI for finance and environmental/social/corporate governance (ESG) investments is being implemented by investment companies as expectations for clearly formulated ESG policies grow. AI can support ESG investments as pseudo stock-picking “advisors” by ingesting ESG knowledge, historical data, and best practices to augment traditional stock-trading recommendations while emphasizing ESG-centric companies and products.

On top of the efficiency implications of such advanced solutions, AI software is also being utilized to support industry professionals in more effectively assessing and realizing investment opportunities with improved risk-mitigation. Cognitive, “human-like” reasoning models can provide financial professionals support by improving monitoring of quality in credit portfolios, increasing visibility into credit and loan-candidate information, as well as enhancing risk-calculation and underwriting.

Innovation driving our future forward

“The years 2016 and 2020 are tied for the warmest year on record,” according to a NASA fact sheet citing a Global Climate Change Indicators report by the National Centers for Environmental Impact (NOAA). NASA stated, “The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon-dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and other human activities.”

Technological innovation that encourages digital transformation for major industries holds great promise. Adopting, implementing, and leveraging applications from AI-software companies that are combatting climate change will forge our path toward a more sustainable, renewable future.

AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond Limits