How AI is transforming, decarbonising and ‘cleaning up’ the grid

Excerpt from weforum.org/agenda

  • AI will transform the grid from an aging supplier of commodity electricity to an intelligent “system of systems” that produces optimised outcomes.
  • Steep increases in renewables will cut electric sector emissions, but the grid must undergo major changes for this to occur.

The world’s energy systems are changing. Driven by strong demand for clean energy and mounting impacts from climate-driven extreme weather, entities around the world are setting ambitious goals to reduce emissions from the fossil fuels that have powered economic growth for over a century.

The majority of emissions come from three sectors: electricity generation, transportation and buildings. Steep increases in renewables will reduce electric sector emissions and power new loads from transportation and buildings. But the grid must undergo profound changes for this to occur.

How will the grid decarbonise?

Electricity will drive global decarbonisation. The future grid must first be clean. No feasible, affordable path exists to replace gasoline with a carbon-free liquid fuel for vehicles, nor natural gas with a carbon-free alternative for cooking and heating. No path, that is, apart from electrifying vehicles and buildings, which is recognised as the lowest-cost, lowest-risk decarbonisation strategy.