AI to help UK industries cut carbon emissions on path to net zero

New artificial intelligence (AI) solutions will accelerate industrial decarbonisation across the country, with nearly £4 million in government funding for green innovations

  • New artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to accelerate industrial decarbonisation across the country
  • nearly £4 million in government funding for green AI innovations
  • government-backed research centre to champion UK’s advancement of AI for decarbonisation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform the way industries cut their carbon emissions thanks to a multi-million-pound government investment announced today (Tuesday 15 August). 

Twelve green AI initiatives will receive a share of £1 million to decarbonise and boost generation of renewable energy, contributing to reaching the country’s ambitious net zero goal by 2050.

The schemes range from solar energy improvements, that use AI to improve the forecasting of when it will best produce energy for the grid, to the decarbonisation of dairy farming through the use of AI robots monitoring crop and soil health.

Even AI itself could reduce its carbon footprint, with one project developing hardware that will mimic the human brain so that a computer can reduce power consumption when performing AI tasks.

On top of this, government will provide a further £2.25 million to support further AI innovations, with the aim of cutting emissions specifically in energy sectors.

This forms part of the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and cements the UK’s position firmly at the forefront of AI and decarbonisation.

Minister for Energy Efficiency and Green Finance Lord Callanan said:

"We are unquestionably world-leading when it comes to advanced AI and our track record for decarbonisation.

"This unique position means we must now push the boundaries in how this technology can enhance our rapidly-growing clean energy sector.

"It’s projects like those announced today that will take us to the next step on our ambitious journey to becoming net zero, while boosting our energy security and creating a new wave of skilled jobs for the future."

Minister for AI and Intellectual Property, Viscount Camrose, said:

"AI is delivering transformative change in the UK. These winning projects are yet another example of how we are tapping into our world-class research base and home-grown expertise to tackle one of the most pressing global challenges of our time.

"Whether backing projects to help us slash emissions or supporting research to revolutionise healthcare for patients, we’re harnessing the enormous potential of AI technologies to improve people’s lives."

The government’s Digital Catapult agency, which is part of Innovate UK and supports businesses in progressing their ideas, has also today received up to £500,000 to launch the UK’s first Centre for Excellence on AI innovation for decarbonisation (ADViCE).

This will provide a virtual hub that will bring together businesses, academics and experts to advance research into AI solutions that will help industries cut emissions.

CEO of Digital Catapult, Dr Jeremy Silver, said:

"The ADViCE programme will drive forward AI’s integral role in solving critical decarbonisation challenges. The programme partners sit at the heart of the UK’s dynamic AI ecosystem and are perfectly placed to forge collaborations between the technology community and some of our most carbon intensive sectors.

"Smart use of AI and data will be fundamental to meeting the UK’s net zero commitment. ADViCE will support those building the algorithms and those investing in AI solutions in the most impactful way possible."

The AI projects to receive a total of £1 million to develop new decarbonisation solutions include:

  • Secqai Ltd. in London will receive £100,000 to support the development of new ultra-low-power AI technology, which mirrors the neural structure of the human brain. This new system will consume a fraction of the power of traditional AI hardware, helping to cut its carbon footprint
  • £121,500 for London-based Open Climate Fix Ltd. to develop AI that will support the connection of solar electricity to the energy grid. The technology will use satellite and weather data to forecast the amount to solar energy being transferred to the grid, to reduce network congestion and maximise the amount of renewable energy transmitted
  • £133,932 will also support a solar energy project run by the University of Nottingham. In this project, AI will improve the forecasting of solar energy production, using sky images and weather data
  • £132,147 will help Ltd. to create a new agriculture robotics that will provide an automated soil and crop health monitoring system, to support decarbonisation in crop management and dairy farms

The government has today announced a further £2.25 million under its AI for Decarbonisation Programme, taking the total funding provided to £3.75 million. Energy firms, software developers and innovators have until 10 October 2023 to apply.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
Department for Science, Innovation and Technology
Lord Callanan
Viscount Camrose