Were you surprised when you first heard that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a key focus topic for the innogy Innovation Hub? Why would a utility be interested in AI, given that utilities often have a reputation of being everything but innovative. Well, as Bill Gates explained in his blog recently, if he would start out new today and looking for an opportunity to make an impact in the world, there are three fields he would consider: Artificial Intelligence, Energy and Bioscience. We couldn't agree more and at innogy, we see that AI is now beginning to deliver real-life business benefits.
Today, Thomas Birr, SVP Innovation and Business Transformation of innogy SE and leading the innogy Innovation Hub, gave a keynote speech at the BootstrapLabs Applied AI Conference in San Francisco. His central message: "The grid, previously built as a one-way-street, is becoming a multi-dimensional "grid of things" where smart algorithms will be needed to analyse data points from millions of smart devices in real-time to keep the grid stable."
AI will revolutionize every industry, especially energy
In his speech, Thomas shared his views how AI will revolutionise the energy industry as all ingredients for a breakthrough are in place. Like in many industries, computing power is now more widely available and cheaper than ever before. The availability of data is increasing - take the electricity distribution grid as an example: Homes and customers become more connected, devices like solar panels, EVs and batteries are increasingly connected to the grid. As they are all generating data - the grid is becoming more complex and there is an increasing need for automation.
Thomas explained that electricity from renewable sources has pretty much quadrupled during the last 10 years and there are now 3m solar panels installed on residential buildings. And with renewables being much harder to predict and being much decentral, grid, previously built as a one-way-street, is becoming a multi-dimensional "grid of things".
To be able to integrate all these new devices, which are all feeding or drawing energy from the grid, it will not be enough anymore to simply put up more electricity lines - what we need to is to actively use the data that is generated by these devices. On top of that, these devices need to behave more intelligent too.