Some of the UK’s largest business groups, universities and tech companies wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to establish an International Centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Energy and Climate.
The Centre is proposed in order to accelerate digital solutions to climate change as part of the UK’s green recovery, and the PM was asked to provide £100m to fund the proposal.
Business groups such as techUK and Energy UK signed the letter, along with leading energy and technology firms such as IBM, Arup and Ovo Energy. Universities including Imperial and Oxford, and green groups such as Green Alliance and E3G also showed their intent.
Leaders in AI
The letter emphasises the ability of technology to facilitate net zero in the UK. As well as the opportunity for the country to become a world leader in AI.
It also highlights that the UK is at risk of falling behind in applied AI if the government is too slow in developing the needed support for the UK to become a leader.
The proposed Centre would aim to accelerate the adoption of data science and AI technologies for energy and climate-related challenges which are becoming increasingly essential to the transition to a zero-emission economy.
“All countries across the world are now undergoing two economic revolutions: the transition to zero emissions and the increasing application of data science and AI,” said Peter Clutton-Brock, CEO, Radiance.”
There are enormous opportunities in connecting these two revolutions together both to help accelerate the transition to net zero emissions, and for the UK unlock the huge economic potential in this space,” he added.
The Centre would look to address barriers in adopting data science and AI for energy and climate-related challenges. These include policy barriers, data barriers, structural market barriers, and finance barriers.
The letter highlights the need to ensure COVID-related fiscal support packages are in place, which support both the transition to a net-zero emission economy, and by accelerating digitisation and adoption of data science.
Recent analysis from PwC and Microsoft is explored in the letter, which suggests AI can help reduce global emissions by up to 4% against business as usual by 2030, whilst also supporting an increase to global GDP of 4.4%.
Eric Brown, CTO, Energy Systems Catapult, said: “Our work in the Energy Data Taskforce showed clearly that decarbonisation will require us to innovate and embrace emerging technology such as AI.
Therefore, we are pleased to support this initiative, as we are committed to the importance of good data and its use in successfully addressing climate challenges and opportunities.”
Paul Massara, Ex CEO nPower RWE & Electron, said: “Over time energy systems will need to fully embrace digital technologies such as data science and AI to be able to manage the increasing number and complexity of assets coming onto the grid, including variable and distributed generation, electric cars, batteries and demand side response assets.
The Government needs to support a locus of expertise, such as the International Centre for AI, Energy & Climate, that can accelerate and advise on this transition, and which can support the creation of hundreds of start-ups and thousands of high-tech jobs.”
The letter also calls for the UK to prioritise improvements to energy system data collection, data standards and data sharing. As well as showcasing UK expertise in emerging tech, such as data science and AI, which are a core part of the UK’s plans for COP26.
More detail on the International Centre for AI, Energy & Climate can be found in the proposal’s Rationale document.