The United Kingdom’s National Grid, which connects households to their energy supply, is assessing the use of Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence (AI) technology to better predict electricity demand.
In an interview with the Financial Times published on Sunday, DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis confirmed that the grid is in talks with his company and other AI specialists.
“We’re early stages talking to National Grid and other big providers about how we could look at the sorts of problems they have. It would be amazing if you could save 10 percent of the country’s energy usage without any new infrastructure, just from optimization. That’s pretty exciting,” Hassabis told the FT.
AI to help creaking National Grid?
As Internet of Business has previously reported, the National Grid has faced pressure to keep up with energy demand in recent years, due to its ageing infrastructure. It is also being stretched by ongoing difficulties in rolling out a smart meter program across the country. Much will depend on the government’s ongoing commitment to reducing carbon emissions and promoting better use of energy, and how it incorporates newer, renewable sources of energy.
The hope is that AI algorithms could better predict when consumers will demand energy and therefore assist with balancing the national energy system more effectively.
Hassabis told the FT: “There’s huge potential for predictive machine learning technology to help energy systems reduce their environmental impact. One really interesting possibility is whether we could help the National Grid maximize the use of renewables through using machine learning to predict peaks in demand and supply.”
The National Grid has also confirmed the claims, with a spokesperson saying “We are in the very early stages of looking at the potential of working with DeepMind and exploring what opportunities they could offer for us.
“We are always excited to look at how the latest advances in technology can bring improvements in our performance, ensure we are making the best use of renewable energy, and help save money for bill payers.”
DeepMind’s co-founder, Mustafa Suleyman, has previously claimed that its algorithms helped to reduce cooling power and electricity usage in Google’s own data centers by 40 percent and 15 percent, respectively. No surprise, then, that the company is now seeking an even greater challenge.